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Guacamelee: Super Turbo Championship Edition Review

by Clay Johnson - July 1, 2014, 6:18 am EDT
Total comments: 6


Dip your chip into this tasty treat.

With Guacamelee: Super Turbo Championship Edition, Toronto-based indie developer DrinkBox Studios mashes up 2D Metroid-inspired exploration and platforming with brawler-style combat, then seasons it all with heavy doses of Mexican culture, video game nostalgia, and lively humor. The 2013 original skipped Nintendo hardware, but luckily Wii U owners get to experience this expanded, definitive take on the game with new areas, abilities, and enemies.

Guacamelee: STCE stars Juan, a lowly agave farmer bestowed with a super-powered luchador mask after a brave--but failed--attempt to rescue El Presidente’s daughter. Juan’s ensuing journey is presented in a cartoony manner that rarely wavers from a peppy, humorous bent, though I found the narrative’s handful of serious notes surprisingly compelling, as well. That being said, the story is never really intrusive. It doesn’t overpower the gameplay, but flavors it well, combining with a Mexican setting and vibe rarely explored in video games to form a vivid, refreshing personality that’s a tremendous asset to the experience.

Juan’s adventure takes him across a series of gorgeously rendered locales, and the Metroid-inspired progression in regards to new abilities yielding newly accessible areas is pervasive throughout. The game does a good enough job with this structure, and its world is fun to explore. There’s always another hidden health or stamina upgrade to be found or perhaps an amusing easter egg referencing video games or pop culture lurking somewhere around. The ability progression makes it so that things really open up over time in terms of combat and navigating the game world.

However, Guacamelee is admittedly a bit lacking when it comes to the pacing and environmental intricacy that are so key to the best titles in the “Metroidvania” genre. For instance, the map is segmented in such a way that environments feel set apart from each other, and there are loading screens separating the individual areas. The maps can be quite well interwoven within these discrete zones, but they don’t overlap with each other in significant ways. Also, the color-coded barriers that gate off areas until the acquisition of the proper abilities seem a bit paint-by-numbers and inorganic. All these elements dissolve a much-desired sense of seamlessness.

Fortunately, other aspects make up for these small deficiencies. Combat in particular improves significantly once more moves are unlocked. In the beginning, battles feel stilted, samey, and very chore-like. In the late game, when enemy types are more varied and the player has a wider array of super-powered moves available, combos become far more creative and stylish. The design structure still tends to rely too much on kill rooms, but the surprisingly deep and fun combat system that emerges over the course of the game mostly mitigates this flaw.

The way new attack moves also increase mobility (e.g., a Dragon Punch-style uppercut allows one to make it to previously out-of-reach platforms) is a nice touch that makes gaining new abilities feel more meaningful and adds extra texture to the game’s solidly-designed gauntlet of platforming challenges.

The only issues with Guacamelee are simply minor quibbles that keep it from true masterpiece status. It’s hard to worry too much about these slight imperfections when the game hits so many right notes, ranging from the lavish presentation to the deep combat and platforming. On the whole, it’s a brisk and refreshing joy to play, with a lively personality that's eminently endearing. Guacamelee is a fantastic Metroid-inspired platformer that shouldn’t be missed.


  • Exploration is a joy
  • Fun presentation and personality
  • Nice ability progression
  • Outstanding art style and graphics
  • Surprisingly deep combat
  • Imperfect implementation of Metroidvania structure
  • Overreliance on kill rooms


Evan_BJuly 01, 2014

I don't understand how you can ridicule color-coded doors when the best Metroidvania titles are subject to this very thing.

In any case, nice review, but I'll probably still pass on this. Too many 2D titles and the art style doesn't make this more interesting.

peacefulwarJuly 01, 2014

Kill Rooms are a perfect description.  Zelda titles have Kill Rooms too, but not as many.  Another game that was basically ALL kill rooms was Kid Icarus Uprising - which basically turned the game into shit.

ejamerJuly 01, 2014

Very interested... but I already own the Gold Edition on Steam and am not sure if I want to double-dip or not.  Buying on Wii U would mean I'd actually play the game much sooner, but maybe my dollars would be better spent elsewhere. The fact that the Steam version was part of a full package of games via Humble Bundle means that Wii U pricing isn't even close to competitive versus what I've already paid.

That's the problem with releasing games years late at higher price points. Might be a deserving game (almost certainly is in this case) but the audience is still diminished.

MythtendoJuly 06, 2014

ejamer, you can't compare a one time sales price vs. normal price.

ejamerJuly 07, 2014

Maybe you can't compare the game that way... but I certainly can.

I own the game already and paid $X for it, so do I want to play an additional $Y to own it on a different platform. The exact numbers for X and Y certainly do matter, although X might vary for different people... but the fact remains that Guacamelee has been out for a long time on many other platforms, and many people who are interested in the game very well could be faced with the same decision. 

Is having a slightly expanded version on Wii U worth $Y?  For some people yes, for others no. I haven't made up my mind yet...

smallsharkbigbiteJuly 07, 2014

I'd expand and say rarely are steam sales or other system sales (PSN, Xbox Live) sales one time sales.  They often come around many times with increasingly steeper discounts.  Nintendo has at least started having digital sales.  But they pale compared to the big steam sales where games can reach 90% off.  And everyone has access to PC gaming whether they've opted to install steam or not.

If I need a game day 1 and the current Nintendo price is as good as other systems I'll consider the Nintendo version.  If I'm waiting for a sale I'll almost always wait for Steam to come through with a great price.  A dollar is a dollar.  Seems the comparison is pretty straightforward to me. 

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Guacamelee: Super Turbo Championship Edition Box Art

Genre Action
Developer DrinkBox Studios
Players1 - 2
Controllers & Accessories Wii U GamePad
Wii U Pro Controller

Worldwide Releases

na: Guacamelee: Super Turbo Championship Edition
Release Jul 02, 2014
PublisherDrinkBox Studios
RatingEveryone 10+
eu: Guacamelee: Super Turbo Championship Edition
Release Jul 02, 2014
PublisherDrinkBox Studios
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