The Summer of 2018 is packed with Metroidvanias. Dead Cells and Hollow Knight are two popular examples, and it isn’t a bad thing. However, if you are trying to stand out from the pack, a sequel to a beloved indie gem is a start. I first fell in love with DrinkBox Studios’ Guacamelee! back on the PlayStation 3 when it released in 2013. The gameplay and presentation instantly grabbed me and my adventure with luchador Juan became one of my favorites of all time. Now, we have DrinkBox’s sequel, Guacamelee 2!
Guacamelee! 2 takes place seven years after the first game… and it involves time travel. In a different timeline a luchador named Salvador, admirer of the legendary Juan, has become obsessed with becoming the most powerful luchador of all time. He has begun to hunt down the three ancient relics which will allow Salvador to unlock the portal to consume the Sacred Guacamole. A food of ultimate power that will make Salvador the most powerful luchador of all time an. During his hunt he is wreaking havoc on the timelines and combining the living and dead worlds. It is up to Juan once again to jump into action to save not just his timeline but all of them.
Throughout the story you get fun call backs to the first game, cameos from familiar friends and foes, and best of all, memes. Guacamelee! 2 does not shy away from Easter eggs, memes, and even tributes to old games. There is even a moment where the game pokes fun at itself for using so many memes.
Most interesting is the side story of the Golden Egg. The Pollo’s have entrusted you with the Pollo Powers which will allow you to use those powers to gather keys so you can travel through an ancient door.
Body Slams and Elbow Drops
One of the reasons Guacamelee 2 hooks me in is the combat. The only weapons Juan is equipped with are his sweet wrestling moves like the Rooster Uppercut, Dash-Punch, and Frog Slam, all versatile and satisfying to pull off. As you progress through the game you can upgrade these skills to cause more damage, reward you with more gold (used for purchasing upgrades) and traverse some challenging areas of the Mexiverse.These attacks are tied to an arcade-style combo system. Racking up multiple hits grants bonus damage and gold the higher it gets.
One of the changes to Guacamelee! 2, is the skill trees. You have five different trainers that provide upgrades, once you pay them some gold and complete some challenges. Some of the skills upgrade your stamina, health and gold making ability. Others upgrade the amount of damage your Special Moves can dish out.
Also, the Pollo Mode has received an upgrade. In the first game, Juan could transform into a chicken, allowing him to take paths that were made specifically for Pollo Mode. In this sequel, that modehas been expanded to include combat and its own side story. The platforming sections that utilize the Pollo Powers were fun and challenging. In fact, they were so satisfying I kept using Pollo Powers even when the situation didn’t call for it.
Even though Guacamelee! 2 has the word melee in the name, the best parts are the platforming challenges. The way DrinkBox has the Special Moves and Pollo Powers work not just as attacks but ways to jump, slide, and dash through amazingly designed areas is incredible. Even in spots on the map I attempted over fifty times, I found myself enjoying every attempt. There are times where you have to plan out your course of action. “Dash-punch here, then Rooster Uppercut to get up there, then Frog Slam to land.” These were literal things I had to rehearse and use to guide myself through some of the most challenging areas.
Guacamelee! 2 contains everything I loved from the first iteration and builds upon the foundation. DrinkBox Studios kept the elements that worked so well in the game: platforming, combat, visuals, and great music. They also added enough to separate it from its predecessor, giving fans some new challenges to body slam their way through. Guacamelee! 2 allows for up to four players to play at the same time although with just two players I found it difficult to focus on platforming. This game is definitely better as a single player game.
I do have some problems, but they’re mostly nitpicks. I felt like momentum and flow of the platforming would sometimes be ruined by combat sections. Some needing to be attempted several times in order to continue the platforming I was enjoying prior to that section. There were definitely some jokes that didn’t hit, but there were definitely more than enough to kept me laughing.
From the moment Guacamelee! 2 was announced, I knew it was a game that I couldn’t ignore, even with the ocean of Metroidvanias releasing around the same time. I would highly recommend this game to anyone that enjoys a great platformer and is prepared to laugh while at the same time be challenged.