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Drinkbox saw an opening, capitalized on it, and sent Guacamelee frog splashing its way into my heart. I'll be cursed by chicken magic if this isn't one of the greatest games on PSN--and certainly the Vita. Viva Drinkbox Studios. Viva Guacamelee!
- Spot-on platforming and combat mechanics
- Superbly charming characters, world, and presentation
- Impressive PS3/Vita interconnectivity
- Enemy encounters get a tad stale by the end
- Camera restrictions can get a little quirky in co-op
- It's too good to have ended as soon as it did (or at all)
(continued from previous page) ...know, Mexico and stuff) that you come across. This quickly eliminates the headache of having to remember what you saw and where it was, should you decide to backtrack.
It’s these subtle details in the game's layout that make the experience such a blast, without all the frustrating bits that would usually otherwise come with a game in this genre. For example, should you miss a jump and fall to your death, the game instantly teleports you to the last spot where you had solid footing on a platform. No deaths, no backtracking, not even a loss to your health meter—Guacamelee tosses that punishing mierda del toro out the window without compromising challenge. Delicious.
For a game with such solid platforming mechanics, it’s almost surprising to say that the melee combat is just as polished. The Square button is used for your regular punches and kicks, your special abilities are mapped to the Circle button, and after a little wear and tear enemies can be grappled by pressing Triangle. The game does a great job with easing players into its mechanics slowly, but noticeably ramping up the difficulty curve toward the end. I never felt stuck or cheated once. If I messed up or died in a fight, I knew it was my fault and felt no pain in retrying. It was always fun. You can’t say that for many games.
Guacamelee’s presentation is another fiesta of fun. The 2D art is absolutely gorgeous in motion and is always a pleasure to look at. Everything from the meme-ridden billboards, buildings, backgrounds and characters absolutely pop on-screen, especially on the Vita. Eventually, Juan gets the ability to switch between the living and dead worlds at will, which ends up playing a big role in both platforming and combat. Impressively enough, the world around you changes quite a bit when you switch over to the other side; almost completely new, stylized art, NPCs, and areas can discovered when comparing both worlds. What’s more is that each area’s music--usually catchy Mexican-themed folksongs with a groovy twist--also change when switching between both worlds. On their own, these small details don’t make the game what it is, but when taken as a whole, they're a testament to how much love and detail went into Guacamelee’s audio/visual design. There isn’t any voice acting, per se, but I didn’t feel that the game was harmed in any way by this; however, there are so many interesting and absurd enemies and NPCs that this could have been a great venue to add even more hilarity to the already-amusing atmosphere.
Guacamelee doesn’t overstay its welcome. Quite the opposite, in fact. I was sad to have beaten the game when I did, only because I could have used a few more hours of content. It’s by no means too short, since a regular playthrough will last between 6-9 hours, but I only really started to feel challenged towards the end. My wanting more challenge is evidence that the game did such a great job at teaching me its mechanics, that when I started stringing them together in fights and in platforming, I felt so rewarded, which in turn, made me always want more.
There aren’t any areas of the game that scream the need for improvement, and that’s because the package is so tight, polished, fun and worth your money (remember, this is PS3/Vita cross-buy), that I can only do my worst by being nitpicky. Sure, the camera in co-op mode could’ve used some work, and some enemy types and variations got a tad stale by the end, but by no means does that overshadow everything else the game brings forth. In an age where we don’t see these kinds of games crafted with such passion anymore, or even barely at all, Drinkbox Studios saw an opening, capitalized on it, and sent Guacamelee frog splashing its way into my heart. It’s not perfect but it's damn close to it, and I’ll be cursed by chicken magic if this isn’t one of the greatest games on PSN—and certainly the Vita. Viva Drinkbox Studios. Viva Guacamelee!
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