PS Vita games you need to play #4

Welcome to the fourth entry in PSU.com’s ongoing feature, where every week a different PlayStation Vita game is recommended for owners for Sony’s beautiful, if slightly undersold, system. Last week Velocity Ultra got its time to shine, so this time around it’s something a bit more… Mexican. Guacamelee!


What is Guacamelee!?

Well, it isn’t actually Mexican for a start–that was a lie. Guacamelee! was made in Toronto, Canada by a company called Drinkbox Studios. No moose or maple syrup is in the game, though. Wrestlers, or luchadors, ARE in–and one is the protagonist. His name is Juan Aguacate. He was a simple farmer when the villian, a Mexican horseman named Carlos Calaca, comes along and kidknapps El Presidente’s daughter and Juan finds a magic mask that gives him wrestling powers. Another thing the game does is put Spanish words into English sentences–it’s so easy, anyone can do it! Parts of Guacamelee! can be an absolute cabrón.

Gucamelee! is a non-linear action platform game, which is sometimes known as a ‘Metroidvania’ (a blend of Metroid and Castlevania tropes). This type of game is known for having a lot of back-tracking, non-linear traversal, and combat. Guacamelee! has no shortage of all three. What sets this apart, though, is the combat system which is, of course, based on wrestling moves. As you progress through the game, more moves are unlocked, which aren’t just used to defeat enemies, but also for getting through any given area. There are special moves and each is a distinctive colour; these can be used to destroy huge blocks halting your progress or open access to hidden areas. Early in the game, you’ll see blocks that can’t be passed until later abilities are acquired.

Juan can also switch dimensions between the living world and the dead world, which is key to navigating the game’s areas. Platforming is like a puzzle in and of itself, thanks to this interesting mechanic. Of course, that’s without mentioning the ability to turn into a chicken. Guacamelee’s equivalent to Metroid’s morphball, the chicken is small and allows you to squeeze through narrow gaps and reach hidden areas.


Why should you play it on PS Vita?

Guacamelee! is a beautiful game, and the 2D graphics and vivid colours look amazing on PS Vita’s OLED screen. The gameplay and controls also feel great on PS Vita’s condensed control profile. One thing that can be tricky is the dimension switching, which is done with the R button. The mechanic can take some getting used to, especially since there’s little margin for error, but Guacamelee! is scarcely punishing: there are many checkpoints in the game where you can buy health and upgrades.

For another PS Vita game that deserves more love and attention, check back next week. In the meantime, sound off in the comments and tell us what you think of Drinkbox’s stellar PS Vita platformer, or share some of your personal favorite PS Vita games!