Oh, do I love me some Metroidvanias, and not known to many people outside my close friends, I also love me some pro wrestling. When DrinkBox Studios announced Guacamelee! way back in 2013, I immediately fell in love. This gorgeous title that offered a Metroidvania feel, beautiful Mexican-inspired graphics, and the lucha libre style of pro wrestling that I was drawn to in the early 1990s, I knew this was the game for me. I mean, who wouldn’t want to suplex and piledrive skeletons while platforming between two different dimensions?
My name is Jason, and this is your Nindie Spotlight for the week: Guacamelee!
The Uniqueness of Guacamelee!
Guacamelee!, also known as Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition on the Nintendo Switch, is a hybrid 2D Metroidvania and brawler, and the combination of the two genres works flawlessly. You play as Juan, a man who lost the love of his life during Dia De Los Muertos, and in an attempt to win her back, he challenges the evil charro skeleton named Carlos Calaca. Sadly, Juan is no match, and he is killed in the process.
Now Juan is in the land of the dead, a parallel world to that of the living, and it is here that Juan meets a mysterious luchadora named Tostada, and she eventually gives Juan a mystical luchador mask that transforms him into a powerful luchador and brings him back to the land of the living.
This is such an awesome and unique setting for the game, because Juan can eventually travel between both dimensions freely for some intense and satisfying puzzle platforming. His position as a luchador also gives him some traditional pro wrestling maneuvers, as well as some mythological ones that garner super abilities, such as the Frog Slam, the Dashing Derp Derp, and Pollo Power. What is Pollo Power, you may ask? Well, it is exactly what it sounds like: Juan can turn into a ruthless (and small) chicken.
A Rich and Cultural Art Style
One of the first things many people notice about Guacamelee! is the seemingly authentic art style that is clearly influenced by its Mexican roots. From the designs to the colors to the Day of the Dead-inspired skeletons and monsters, this is a game where the developers and artists worked long and hard to make sure they communicated a whole country’s rich culture in a game setting that did said culture justice.
The overly saturated colors make both the land of the living and dead pop with distinction in such different ways despite being so similar. It is a beautiful take on Mexican culture and style, and you can tell the team wanted to show off the best things about art without doing any disservice.
Some of my favorite moments in the game are the puns and homages displayed throughout. Famous video games, both AAA and indie, are portrayed on posters spread throughout the game with a fun cultural spin, so you will see things like Los Super Hermanos (Super Mario Bros), El Nino de Carne vs El Ninja (Super Meat Boy vs N++ Ninja), and Fuerte Malo (Strong Bad). The game is simply brimming with references, jokes, and homages, and they are all wonderfully designed to fit perfectly in the world of Guacamelee!.
Something that is often overshadowed in Guacamelee! that deserves way more praise are the fun variety of bosses and the narratives they add to the story. Each and every one of them are insanely fun to fight against, which is a testament in and of itself, but the lead up and the dialogs are the icing on the cake.
Characters like Flame Face (Pictured above) and Jaguar Javier are such complicated characters, and it is so refreshing to see a team that gives enemies like these moments to shine before accepting their fall. Flame Face’s humanity seeps out at times, and it does make you feel for him, despite his face literally being on fire and wanting to kill Juan.
Bosses are usually fought in stages as well, which makes the events feel so much bigger than a simple “deplete their life bar” scenario. Applying all of the moves and combos you have learned over the course of the game are vital in these fights, and it is a blast catching a boss by surprise and giving them a much needed suplex to make them humble.
The series has given so much to the gaming world, and each new iteration has made the franchise even stronger. Since the original, not only have we been blessed with a Super Turbo Championship Edition on the Nintendo Switch, but Guacamelee! 2 is also on the console and brings even more wrestling, inter-dimensional combat, and pollo action to the table.
As is the case normally with these Nindie Spotlights, there are so many more things that I could have highlighted from the game, such as its incredible soundtrack, fantastic powerups, and gut-wrenching comedy, but know this: Guacamelee! is truly the full package, and the fact that you can play drop-in/out couch co-op with three of your friends only makes it better.
The evil Calaca once said, “The LIVING WORLD may have chosen to forget me once… But I won’t give them a choice this time!”, and I won’t let our gaming audience forget Guacamelee! One of the coolest Metroidvanias of all time.
There is your Nindie Spotlight on Guacamelee!. Join us next time for another brief look into the Nintendo Switch’s best Nindie titles. What are some of your favorite indie games? Let us know in the comments below! Thank you for visiting Nintendo Link. Happy gaming, everyone!
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My name is Jason Capp. I am a husband, father, son, and brother, and I am a gamer, a writer, and a wannabe pro wrestler. It is hard to erase the smile on this simple man.