Guacamelee Super Turbo Championship Edition is a 2D action platformer developed by DrinkBox Studios. You take on the mantle of a Luchador and find yourself fighting to free your true love from the clutched of an evil skeleton named Carlos Calaca. He has a devious plot to rule not only the realm of the dead but also the mortal world. That’s a brief backdrop of Guacamelee’s story, it’s not a new tale or even particularly well told but it isn’t really that important in the grand scheme of things.

I have mixed feeling about Guacamelee Super Turbo Championship Edition. The game started off with me being acutely aware of the tongue and cheek style of storytelling. Characters in the world are dramatized Mexican stereotypes. I don’t for a second believe that any harm or offense is intended by DrinkBox in this regard but I can see how some people may find this game slightly “on the nose” when it comes to the humour. Once I had come to this conclusion I was able to look past it and did find that some of the characters told touching stories about their backstory and the humour in the game had the opportunity to come to the fore. The art style and music are fantastic. The simplistic way that Drinkbox have worked in elements of the Mexican Day of the Dead added a layer of depth that a lot of side scrollers lack and as for the music, well I have a soft spot for Spanish guitar and Guacamelee is full to the brim with it.

In total I cleared the game in a little over 6 hours and I really enjoyed the first four hours of that, the last two… not so much. Let me explain.

At the beginning of the game you are introduced to your abilities at a fairly regular rate, you are given the ability and then given plenty of opportunity to use it and get used to when and how it should be used before you are given another one. The pacing at this stage of the game was excellent with puzzle elements thrown in to the gameplay to breakup longer sections of combat. If you want you can even take on side quests like herding chickens into a pen or helping an old lady in a village get ingredients for dinner. Combat is fairly easy in the world but every now and then you will encounter arena style matches where you get boxed in an area and will have to fight waves on enemies until you are rewarded with a piñatas full of coins. You can use these coins to upgrade your abilities, increase the power of your special moves or reduce the recharge delay for health and stamina. You can also buy different outfits for your Luchador. You can simply change the colour of your mask or have him fight in a massive chicken outfit, the choice is yours.

None of these elements are unique to Guacamelee but they are executed well at this stage making the game feel different from similar titles. As you progress and gain new powers enemies will grow in number and difficulty. This is when a second player can come in handy. At any time someone can join the came (local only) and give you a hand. I liked the addition of multiplayer and felt that in the later section of the game it was almost essential to have another person to help fight through the hordes of enemies. About halfway through the game you will gain the power to turn yourself into a chicken. Yes, a chicken. It is silliness in the extreme but I laughed my ass off as I ran about trying to peck skeletons to death. There is a point to it though, as a chicken you will be able to reach areas that you can’t as a human by going through small tunnels. It opens the gameplay up another level and lets you tackle even more puzzles. It was at about this point that the magic started to wear off.

By the time I was around four hours into the game I had almost all of the abilities, I could turn myself into a chicken, teleport between the worlds of the dead and the living and carry out four special moves that all used the left thumbstick and the B button. By themselves these mechanics were fun and engaging but as you progress Guacamelee will expect you to use all of these skills at once when solving some of the later puzzles. This grew incredibly frustrating as one mistake would send your character back to the beginning of the puzzle. The pacing also fell apart for this, instead of having combat broken up with puzzles you have long periods of time without any combat at all. At certain points there was no real indication of what or where you have to go so trial and error play a massive part. I think that’s a real shame because up to this point Guacamelee had me as a fan, I just think that if DrinkBox had decided that they didn’t have to use all of the gameplay mechanics on every puzzle then it would have been a great indie game. Unfortunately with frustrating boss battles thrown into the mix and the dropped ball in the last third of the game it put me off the entire affair.

The good news is that once the main story is finished you can go back and play through areas of the game that your new abilities will open up to you. I do think I would go back and play this again, probably with a friend but I enter into it knowing what will come.