I love Metroidvania, it’s up there among my favourite video game genres and the original Guacamelee! holds a special place in my heart, not just because of how amazing it is in gameplay and how genuinely funny it is, but being Latin American and a native Spanish Speaker, I always found another layer to the game that made the humour even cleverer.
How does Guacamelee! 2 stack up to its predecessor? It German Suplexes and then choke-holds it into submission. It’s not just a sequel, it’s a full upgrade on all fronts, from gameplay to that wonderfully layered humour, combining jokes, word play, careful pop-culture references and that bit just for the Spanish speakers that makes it all more worthwhile. Hats off to Drinkbox Studios!
Guacamelee! 2 picks up years after the end of the first game and in a wonderful throwback to Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, the game opens with the Guacamelee!’s final battle, just instead of Richter Belmont defeating Dracula, we see Juan, the Luchador, defeat the evil Calaca and rescue his soon to be wife Lupita.
As peace returns to their life, they marry and years later have two rambunctious children. Juan’s retired now, content with his family but often remembering his past glories. Things heat up when an alternate timeline’s Tostada, the spirit guardian of the sacred Luchador mask, appears before Juan and begs him to come to the Darkest Timeline, one where he died fighting Calaca and someone else took his place, a luchador simply known as Salvador, the saviour. This man has now turned to evil, possessed and desperate to claim the Gods’ sacred Guacamole—in a storyline that reminded me so much of Diablo 2—and if he succeeds, it may spell the end of the Mexiverse!
So of course, without a doubt, Juan leaps through the portal, dons his mask once more and does battle against the forces of evil with the power of Lucha!
- Funniest Timeline: Guacamelee! 2 is funny as hell, and it had me constantly chuckling at every little bit of humour they drop on you in character interactions and the environment. From adverts to upcoming lucha matches—the one with He-Man and Skeletor killed me—to the names of businesses, Guacamelee! 2 refuses to take itself seriously and invites you to join in on the fun. This is a silly game that plays its plot straight as a serious adventure only for as long as it takes to set up the next joke. It’s pure comedic genius!
- Dance-off to Save the World: Guacamelee! 2 is all about Mexican traditional music, with Mariachi being at the forefront, though often altering their tempo to match the situation or having just single-instrument sections, so you may hear just light bass strumming while running through hallways before the other instruments join again during a fight sequence. I really enjoyed the different pieces, though I know for a fact my mother would hate them (she’s not a fan of Mariachis).
- Suplex City: Combat is fast and you have a multitude of options available, such as simple combos, throws—of which I chose the German Suplex first, of course—and super moves to beat the ever-loving crap out of the denizens of the darkest timeline. And the combo counter is an ever-present source of personal challenge and great humour.
- Jump Up, Superstar: The multitude of options doesn’t just apply to the combat in Guacamelee! 2 but also the platforming, where your super moves combine with the usual Metroidvania staples of double jumps and wall jumps, and the weirder/funnier options unique to the Mexiverse such as the switch between the world of the living and the dead. The result is a some truly spectacular and highly challenging platforming sections that test your timing and coordination. And that’s without mentioning the challenge rooms you must face to get health or stamina fragments. Those are hardcore and I love them!
- The Nitpick Timeline: THIS IS A NITPICK in what’s really a massive metroidvania masterpiece by Drinkbox Studios. Guacamelee! 2 plays with the Mexiverse idea for laughs and though you travel to a few one-off timelines like the ever-dangerous Dankest Timeline and the Turn-based Grindiest timeline, I would have liked the adventure to span multiple universes for real or at least between Juan’s world and the Darkest Timeline, perhaps allowing you to not only switch between the land of the dead and the living world but also between realities. But hell, if we can’t I’ll hold out for Gaucamelee! 3 for it!