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Guacamelee! 2 Review

DrinkBox Studios’ Guacamelee! first came out in 2013, making the 2018 release of Guacamelee! 2 something of a unicorn we never thought we’d actually get to see in person, much less take for a spin. Guacamelee! 2 features our beloved luchador, Juan Aguacate, embarking on a new adventure to save the Mexiverse from peril a handful of years after the events of Guacamelee!. It’s a wholly satisfying sequel to a wholly satisfying first entry, and we would happily wait five more years for a third, should DrinkBox Studios decide that’s the route they want to travel.

Luchador in Dad Mode

Our hero, many years after his transformation from agave farmer to the mighty luchador that defeated the evil Carlos Calaca, is a little… different… now. He’s married to his love interest from the first entry, El Presidente’s daughter, and he has a pair of mini luchadors of his own running around the house. We meet Juan again as an overweight, middle-aged, and strikingly… normal… family man — but never fear. He’s quickly swept up into hero mode again, as a plot to unravel the Mexiverse is revealed and you’re recruited to help stop the end of the world.

Immediately, it’s apparent that DrinkBox Studios had zero intention of slowing down the riotous humor that was such a boon to the first entry. Without admitting spoilers, Guacamelee! 2 makes several nods to well-respected and well-known titles within the first hour of gameplay, and provides main- and side-character dialogue that will have you laughing out loud, whether or not you played the first entry.

A… Skill Tree?

New to Guacamelee! 2 is a system with trainers and skill trees that you unlock as you play and complete challenges. Buy upgrades to your existing skills with coins that you gather in-game, and enjoy the freedom to do some minor customization with how you want Juan to go about smashing his enemies into tiny bits. Otherwise, Guacamelee! players will be pleasantly surprised at just how familiar the controls are. You have the standard skills that not only bash through enemy shields, but also unlock new areas, such as Rooster Uppercut. New skills have been added to this entry to keep things fresh, and these are equally enjoyable to discover and utilize in combat.

Guacamelee! 2 has you platforming through a world full of danger. As with the original, you’ll have sections of major combat where you’re locked into an arena, and you must beat waves of enemies to proceed. When you win these, you advance through the map, and you get to break open a piñata that will rain goodies down on you (thankfully not edible goodies, for Juan’s sake). Boss battles take these to the next level, forcing you to use your arsenal of skills and your luchador ingenuity to stay alive and conquer your ill-intentioned foe.

Leap Your Way to Victory

The platforming in Guacamelee! 2 is no joke. Players of the first entry will remember the mechanic that allowed you to switch between worlds, a mechanic which you needed to utilize to attack enemies and land on surfaces that were on another plane. Guacamelee! 2 sees an expansion of this in its level design, and doing some of the more rigorous sections will give even platforming enthusiasts pause. The balance between the platforming and the brawling, however, always feels good, even when one or the other causes you to become stuck for longer than you’d care to admit.

Fortunately, some of the most backbreaking timing platforming is optional. Throughout the map you have semi-hidden areas where, if you traverse them correctly, you could open a chest that has a part of a collectible that either improves your health or your stamina once completed. Be warned: Guacamelee! 2 isn’t about to give you a freebie. If you want a leg up in combat, you’ll need to leg up on your platforming.

Chickens and Friends

We knew playing as Juan’s chicken form in Guacamelee! was a fun gimmick, but Guacamelee! 2 makes it more than just fun. It’s often a necessity, and often you’ll be scratching your head while in an area, wondering if playing as the tiny, albeit deadly, chicken would actually be more effective. The chicken mode gets its own skill tree in this entry, and it isn’t just a loose-ended punchline. It’s a genuinely lethal mode that is very nearly more satisfying than playing Juan in his luchador form.

The multiplayer in Guacamelee! 2 is superb. Play with up to three pals and watch the difficulty go from challenging to absolutely insane in the arena fights. Respawns are instantaneous, and the fast pace of this metroidvania brawler makes it an addictive party title that will have everyone laughing, smacking each other on the back, and button-mashing like there’s no tomorrow.

Gorgeously Animated, Musically Unstable

Guacamelee! was an astoundingly artistic title that brought traditional Mexican culture and lore to the forefront with talent and respect. Guacamelee! 2 delivers in the same vein with wonderfully detailed backgrounds and character designs that are memorable to the utmost. The music starts as strong as the accompanying art, but unfortunately loses speed in later areas, falling to the side as the gameplay and the visually splendid world takes center stage.

8

The Verdict: Excellent

Guacamelee! 2 takes the superb formula of Guacamelee!, kicks it into high gear, and multiplies the general number of chickens by ten. It stays amorously true to the first entry by proffering more opportunities for satisfying Rooster Uppercuts than ever before, and ratchets up the difficulty of its platforming sections to keep pace. Guacamelee! 2 is the truly worthy and hysterical follow-up to the (rightfully) much-loved original Guacamelee!

Taryn Ziegler
Written by
August 22, 2018
Published in Action

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Taryn is a digital content strategist with an avid appetite for literature and gaming. She graduated from the University of Washington Bothell with a degree in Culture, Literature, and the Arts, and since then has been engaged in copywriting for businesses from AutoNation to DirtFish Rally School. While she'll happily play most games set in front of her, Taryn heartily prefers a good ol' turn-based strategy RPG, such as Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia and Divinity: Original Sin.

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