After showing us the epic adventure of the Agave Boy, Drinkbox wants to step up everything on its sequel. Was it worth the wait? Find out in our Guacamelee! 2 review.
Okay, first things first: I love the original Guacamelee! game. I played both Gold and Super Turbo Championship Edition versions so much that I can play it with my eyes closed. Its use of a charming visual style with some really clever level design that teaches (as well as tests players’ endurance, YES I’m talking about you Tree Tops) like every single Metroidvania should do nowadays made me go crazy for this awesome yet underrated game.
I don’t think I’ll surprise anyone when I say that I screamed like a fangirl when they announced a sequel. However, it was also odd to have a sequel, considering that the true ending of the game was quite conclusive. But hey, the more Juan I get, the happier I’ll be. But is this sequel as good, if not better, than the first adventure of the mighty Luchador? Let’s find out in this Guacamelee! 2 review.
You are our only hope Obi-Juan Kenobi
The start of Guacamelee! 2 is literally the final battle from the first game against Calaca. Spoiler alert: Juan obliterates him. After that, we see that he and Lupita (El Presidente’s Daughter) get married and live happy for the rest of their lives. Or that’s what we thought.
Juan is now a father who left its luchador life and spends its days playing with his kids and eating avocados. But when he goes to the market in Pueblucho to buy some avocados, destiny calls at his door (or better yet at his universe) once again in order to save the entire Mexiverse.
I don’t want to say more about Guacamelee! 2 plot as I believe it’s best enjoyed with no prior knowledge about it. But trust me: this one is as fun, if not funnier, than the first one. And speaking about the first Guacamelee! title…
If it ain’t broke, add more things
Drinkbox seems to stick quite firm to the motto “why fix something that was never broken?“. In Guacamelee! 2 you can find all your old moves and skills: the Rooster Uppercut, the Frog Slam, the Goat Climb,… Every single one is here once again to show that Juan can use its Luchador techniques both for fighting and platforming. But then we have the new addition: Chicken Abilities.
In the first game, turning into a Chicken was fun yet it didn’t offer much more to the gameplay section. While it is true that we could drop explosive eggs on STCE, now the Pollo Power is more versatile than ever. We can do the 3-hit combo, grabbing moves (yes, even Das Boot and the Suplex) and some new abilities that we will unlock throughout the length of our experience with the game. I won’t lie: I was on Chicken form more than in regular form and it was quite an awesome experience. But nothing is more awesome than the next two things: the music and the graphics.
A Juantastic soundtrack and visuals
Mariachi Entertainment System was the special guest that managed to offer alongside Peter Chapman and Rom di Prisco an amazing musical experience. Trumpets, guitars, and many other Mariachi sounds will be present in plenty of different styles, offering that constant sense of epicness as well as some catchy tunes that will morph slightly regarding if we are on the Death World or the Human World. They may feel a little bit dull at first, but the moment you are backtracking to old places you’ll crank that Music option all the way up all the time.
Another thing that has been upgraded quite a lot are the visuals. If the first title had a lovely personality attached to its art, now Drinkbox is stepping things up in this area. Lightning, water effects, and reflections will make you do so many screenshots you’ll end up with more than 50, trust me. And don’t be afraid: upgraded graphics doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have that old charm anymore.
I don’t Juan to talk about this, but…
I think it’s time to address the Alebrije in the room: Guacamelee! 2 feels more like a “Guacamelee 1 Expansion Pack” rather than a full sequel. Don’t get me wrong, this is not a bad thing at all, as the sequel adds plenty of fun and tense challenges as well as some great jokes. But the problem is that it plays too safe and doesn’t offer anything groundbreaking.
It’s true that you can earn new Chicken Skills, but they are not something that will make you say “okay NOW this is better than the first game”. And I have to say that after beating the game 100% the final reward was not that worth it. I won’t spoil it, but it’s just a little bit dull as you will not be able to use it that much for a reason that I can’t talk right now because of spoilers.
In terms of regular abilities for Juan, there’s only one that can be considered new: the Eagle Boost. Is it fun to use? Absolutely. Does it offer great challenges? You bet it does. However, one thing for Juan and 5 new ones for the Chicken form is a little bit unbalanced if you ask me. But this is not the worse part in my opinion about the game, far from it. That place goes to the final section of the review.
6 steps forward, 2 steps back
Costumes. What have you done to the costumes Drinkbox?! Okay don’t panic, there ARE costumes on Guacamelee! 2, but the way we unlock them is… different.
You see, in Guacamelee! STCE we unlocked new costumes (that always gave us something good and something bad in exchange) by finding Silver Coins. These coins were hidden in small platforming challenges, and the costumes were worth the purchase. We also had versions of the same costume for both Juan and Tostada. But not in Guac 2.
In order to unlock the pretty small amount of costumes in the game, we have to beat some challenges as well. That’s great! No coins, just the costume as a reward. However, the costumes are… Just purely cosmetic. Yup, no abilities whatsoever. And the worst thing of all? Costumes are only for the character that has the costume.
Do you want to play as El Pollo Luchador with Tostada? Too bad, you can’t. Want to become a Piñata Juan? Try in STCE, because here you can’t do that. Why this decision Drinkbox? It doesn’t make sense! At least offer abilities for the costumes, otherwise, they are just average skins for our characters while playing with friends. Not really a huge fan of this to be honest, but at least I hope they will add Steam Workshop in order to make people go crazy with their creations.
There can only be Juan of us
Is Guacamelee! 2 a great game with awesome platforming, rewarding combat and filled to the brim with charm and jokes? Of course it is! Is it better than the first title? No, but only because it’s just as good as the first title.
The new Chicken Skills are a blast to use, the plot will make you cry both of joy and sorrow and the overall experience is fantastic. But it doesn’t try to go beyond the original game, and making a great sequel means breaking out of the comfort zone and offer something new and original. One new skill for Juan and four new moves for the Chicken (there are five but one is just there for two things only) don’t offer enough to make me say “this is the perfect sequel, they made it”. And the costumes things sorry, but I just don’t like what you did to them.
But again, are fewer skins and more of the same enough to say “you don’t have to play this game“?
Are you stupid or something? Of course not! Guacamelee! 2 may be playing safe with its elements, but ONLY because Drinkbox know that those elements work. You have to play this game if you are a newcomer and a big fan like me. It may be the same thing as the first game, but it’s still a fantastic Metroidvania and an awesome title to add to anyone’s collection.
Also, Drinkbox… come on, I’m still waiting for an STCE port on Vita.
- Fantastic visuals
- Awesome challenges that will put your skills to test
- Brilliant soundtrack
- Chicken action is the best action
- Costumes are now just skins
- It plays too safe with its elements
- If you beat it 100%, you'll be empty for the rest of your life as no game will manage to be as fun as Guacamelee!