Leave it to the creative minds at DrinkBox Studios to not only meld the world of Luchador with Metroidvania-style gameplay, but do so in style. The result, Guacamelee, was a hit when it first released back in 2013, eventually spawning a direct sequel that launched earlier this year to similar critical acclaim. The series just made its debut on Switch, however, with the first game out now and the second on the way, and the video above gives you a taste of what you can expect when you jump into the new version of the first game.
Spoiler: It’s just as good as its always been. DrinkBox’s familiar visual hallmarks are as strong as ever, with expressive characters and vibrant colors bringing the unusual world to life. It’s fair to say that there’s a bit too much emphasis on referencing memes and other games as a source of humor, but the occasional eye roll doesn’t hurt when the overall atmosphere is so infectiously jovial.
When it comes to gameplay, Guacamelee’s three pillars–combat, platforming, and exploration–easily stand the test of time. Combat ramps up steadily, and before you know it your simple punch combos will blossom into strings of attacks and dodges that allow you to confidently face off against a dozen enemies at a time. It sounds potentially overwhelming, but the controls are designed in such a way to make your most important maneuvers easy to execute at a moment’s notice.
Platforming skills can also play a role in combat, as you will sometimes face enemies that exist in parallel dimensions, requiring you to hop through nearby portals all the while dodging attacks and fighting back. There are no shortage of difficult platforming setups as well, but graciously, the game simply warps you right back to your jumping off point without any real penalty should you fall into a pit or onto spikes. This doesn’t make the platforming any easier, as the challenges are often multi-step arrangements that require lots of forethought to overcome; the game’s forgiving rules simply afford you the freedom to experiment with various approaches without being punished.
Because it’s a Metroidvania at heart, exploration is part-and-parcel of the overall Guacamelee experience. In keeping with its offbeat tone, the abilities you use to unlock new paths are often the same ones you use in combat. A headbutt can demolish a progress-halting boulder, and an uppercut can help you reach platforms that, earlier, were too high to reach. There are lots of hidden items and opportunities to discover, and Guacamelee’s kinetic action makes the process of uncovering everything the game has to offer a consistent joy.
Guacamelee has made it to almost every platform under the sun since its debut, but having it on Switch is a great way to enjoy it at home or on the go–kind of like it was via PlayStation 4/Vita crossplay, but on a single device. It’s a good sign, because if you wind up enjoying Guacamelee as much as we do, there’s only a couple of months to go before Guacamelee 2 for Switch lands on the eShop.