This Guacamelee! review is late. Like really, really late.
There's a couple of reasons for that. I got a new job, moved to a new city, and I'm adjusting to all of that new life stuff. This means getting used to a new schedule and finding ways to fit in games. But these are just excuses. Bad ones, because I did play games. I've played dozens more hours of Civilization V, finished Borderlands 2, started up Hatoful Boyfriend, Nidhogg, and Bayonetta, even worked on another game to review. I've explored the new city I'm in. I've socialized with people. I've had time to play games even then.
I just haven't really cared to come back to Guacamelee!
When I started, though, I was way into it. Sure, it took the easiest parts to grab about Mexico (Tequila! Day of the dead! Luchadors!), but it also had some heart and took some deeper references of the culture that I was pretty surprised with. Plus, it showed promise - finding new attacks, opening up the world, new ways to fight, and how the switching between dimensions brought interesting platforming and fighting challenges!
Then it just didn't evolve further. Which isn't a bad thing; I mentioned Borderlands, a game I love that never stops being "go here and shoot these things until this happens" for 20 hours. For Guacamelee! it just revealed the flaws in the system. The fighting isn't really as deep as it wants to be; a game like Bayonetta rewards you for fighting in new ways with more powerful attacks and crazier animations, but Guacamelee! doesn't have that. You have punches, throws, and special punches that you eventually have to string together to break colored shields.
But then they start introducing characters that break that. It's not like you can figure out great ways around them with your attacks because they never really change, and then you just wind up having to dodge and do the same attacks to every enemy. It's hard to even keep a combo going because there are enemies that can escape combos for no real reason, especially when they start teleporting away, and they're gone so long you start to wonder if they're even coming back. Combo Chicken can try to teach you awesome combos, but when an enemy just stands there, that's one thing. When they teleport away and you can't do anything about it, that's another.
The other portion of the game is exploring and traversing the map, but at some point you almost get the feeling they realized "this is kinda lame" because they give you two moves: one that lets you fly left and right across the screen, another that lets you run up almost any wall. Exploring just isn't very fun since platforming isn't, and there isn't that feeling of "Wow, I discovered something!" and more like "Oh, they want me to do this now?"
Seeing as the game wants to be a combination of beat-em-up brawler and action platformer, it just left me lukewarm on both aspects.
But this isn't JUST Guacamalee!. This isn't even Guacamelee! Gold. This is Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition, and with it comes a whole slew of changes! New enemies! New areas! Some new moves and abilities! Given how lukewarm I was about it anyways, having more of a game that makes me go "ehhhhhh?" isn't exactly something I was clamoring for.
So there's a new areas and a new boss, which aren't really anything to say more about. The boss is a mariachi, because Mexico. I'm not even sure which level was added because really, they don't do anything to set themselves apart, so even though I read "Canal de las flores," I don't remember having gone there one bit.
You've got three new moves added in. First is one I can't believe wasn't in there already, given that this game does so much to reference Metroid: a bomb you lay when you're a chicken. It's the morph ball bomb! This game has Chozo statues AND Metroids, the chicken is basically the morph ball, and yet they hadn't added this ability in? I'm actually shocked!
The next is Intenso, which is just a bar that fills up and then you activate it and then you get stronger and recover health, since this is a video game and all. And then I never used the first move, only used the second one twice. They're not what I'd call 'game changers' because the game was designed in the first place without them- so why would their introduction change anything?
On the other hand, I did play through the whole game as Zangeif, so that's OK. Although these custom skins were in Gold, too.
So basically, if you already have Guacamelee!, I don't see any reason to buy it again. If you don't have it, I don't see any reason to buy it in the first place.
Plus then the game... man, people have talked about the memes, but I don't think they consider it past "Internet humor is a dumb thing." What rankles me about it is that this game gives lip service to Mexican culture, and then just completely does away with it for flash-in-the-pan jokes and references that were dated even at the time.
Thousands of years of history. Creation myths that deal with people being made of corn, gods of death who vomit bees and decapitate themselves, a plethora of famous Mesoamerican cultures, but instead you have a move called the Dashing Derpderp. Just think about that. They could have at least made it Spanish like "Golpeo Dash" or something, but they throw all of that away for a joke at the expense of the mentally handicapped.
And it goes on. I can pull so many screenshots from the game that have references to grumpy cat, foul bachelor frog, Mario and Link, that owl with the 'o rly' caption. I know it's easy to go "well I would have made a game this way!" but it comes down to that they had a choice between awesome historical references or lame internet jokes, and they chose the latter. Mexico's culture gets ignored and marginalized enough. At least there weren't any cartels, I guess.
Overly referential with gameplay that doesn't go anywhere. You're probably not going to be surprised by this score.