Super Turbo Championship Edition! A super name for a super game, Drinkbox Studio’s Mexican-themed Metroidvania about a guy called Juan, his quest to become a luchodor and save the Princess, a captive of the antagonist Calaca who plans to use her as a sacrifice as part of his evil plan. The game is both bright and dark, deep and full of well executed mechanics that show this off to be a labour of love for Drinkbox, not a simple game by any means and one I found to give a reasonable challenge which is finely tuned and incredibly polished in every aspect. As I proceeded through the game I was surprised at just how much my progression changed my traversal of the places I was familiar with from the beginning of the game. On your quest to find Calaca and save the princess you gain many new abilities; special attacks like an upwards/sidewards swipe, a heavy drop attack, double jump and more that I won’t spoil which add a lot to the game and how you move around. At every stage through Guacamelee each new ability something extra to how you play; opening more combat choice when tackling enemies, routes to go through levels, the ability to get treasure which was inaccessible and complete side-missions. There is a lot of treasure to find around the villages of Mexico, my final completion level (when I had finished the story was at 57% in almost 11 hours) but luckily you can go back and get the stuff you missed after completing the game which is a task for a rainy day. As I said when I called Guacamelee “bright and dark”, the art style on the living world is bright and lively with a wonderful direction to it and lots of detail. When you go into the “dead world” it becomes similarly (and deliberately) lifeless to show the contrasts between the two realms which Calaca is trying to combine to become one. The gameplay focuses very much on the platforming and combat, as you progress the platforming becomes more about problem solving with your newly gained abilities to complete the puzzles in your path which need thought along with trial and error. Once you get certain abilities it’s incredibly satisfying to complete sections even if there might be a hint of frustration at times that comes with the trial and error of seeing what works and what doesn’t, a lot of the later platforming and puzzles need quick thinking and reflexes in your movement which is fun. As an example a few areas rely on Juan to get quite far across with seemingly no platforms in site but by using your abilities they make it possible, there are also some nice sections with things like razor gears which need incredibly precise jumping and sliding around to manoeuvre around and get to the next stage, trust me its more fun than it sounds. The combat is your standard beat-em-up affair with mashing of X or using combos with a handy moves list provided, heavy hits gained from the abilities mentioned above, throwing enemies and using the environment to advantage at times, it becomes deeper as you progress which will help with different enemies. At other times you have to do combos to enemy destroy shields so you can take health off of enemies and there is a decent variety of enemy types to keep you on your toes. There is a lot to do as I said in Guacamelee with collecting treasure giving you stamina and health upgrades, the INTENSO combat mode can be upgraded too so you can kick more dead Mexican themed baddies in the ass, not to mention the side missions – usually fetch-quests and killing enemies and grabbing treasure can give you money or silver coins used to buy upgrades and costumes in the store, some of the alternate costumes are very cool as well although I liked to play as vanilla Juan in my first play through. There is also a challenge room with 17 challenges to complete for medals which is tough but satisfying, I spent a long time on some getting gold medals and again the new abilities helped cut my times and make some of the levels a bit easier. With a game that offers a big package even outside of the story, aforementioned side-quests and treasure (luckily there is a quick travel between areas) map is useful in showing layout of the villages so if you want to go treasure hunting then its possible to do so without getting yourself lost, it seems like a basic thing but it’s implemented well and I appreciated it the annotations showing what was where. Once you have completed it on normal a hard more unlocks for those looking for an extra challenge (or more gamerscore!) too. Little bits in the game show off the humour of the game as well in the some of the posters around the villages “Super Lucho Force” and many others which are fun to see and some of the talking is quite funny as well which just fit in well with the rest of the game and its light-hearted approach to the peril that the villages of Mexico face. Super Turbo Championship Edition builds on the original PSVita/Playstation 3 release with a lot of new content to make it worthwhile for double dippers or people new to the game – the DLC released is included, two new areas – Canal of Flowers and Volcano, I thought the Volcano had some cool areas in it so that was certainly a welcome addition, new abilities, enemies, multiple save slots and a dual currency system to support permanent unlocks, it’s obviously a “definitive” edition of the game but with so much content packed in it completely justifies the price of $14.99/£11.99 although rather nicely it was available on Games With Gold for Xbox One and PS4 users in Europe could upgrade if they had previously purchased the game on PSVita or Playstation 3. It is a bit of a shame that the content hasn’t been made available to users on other platforms too but an upgrade for a new console at a low price is a nice gesture from Drinkbox. Like the original release too it has a local co-op mode which lets you plough through the game with a friend however its a shame it isn’t available online as I haven’t been able to check it out with only one controller however I think the game would be a lot of fun to go through with a friend. Guacamelee Super Turbo Championship Edition is a great, humorous metroidvania which is fine tuned to perfection and filled with a ton of content. The game has clever puzzles, fun combat and platforming soaked in a vibrant art style and great setting, I had a lot of fun playing it and I became a big Drinkbox fan they’re obviously a very talented studio and I’m looking forward to seeing what else they make in the future – I’m definitely in if it has the same charisma and great execution of Guacamelee.
Thanks to Tom at Plan of Attack for providing me with a review code
Price: £11.19/$14.99 (Free in July for Xbox One Games with Gold)
Formats: Xbox One (played), Xbox 360, Playstation 4, WiiU (Playstation 3, Playstation Vita, PC – original release and DLC)
Developer: Drinkbox Studios
Publisher: Self-published (Activision on Xbox 360)