Guacamelee 2 review: Mexiversal champion

Juan Aguacate has donned the mask again, but is his quest to save the Mexiverse as fun as his first adventure? Our review.

15

Anyone who has followed Lucha Libre or professional wrestling in any form knows that retirement is not a permanent thing. Top stars from around the world over the last few decades have been going in and out of retirement, but really, it's not unusual for wrestlers to return to their vocation.

Guacamelee 2 sees Juan Aguacate return to his calling. He's a super luchador, with the ability to slam skeletons, demons, and other bad guys with the power of his enchanted mask. This sequel plays out similarly to the original 2013 game, meaning that even with a few flaws, it still feels like brawling and platforming brilliance.

¡Crisis en Méjicos Infinitos!

Guacamelee 2 begins five years after the events of the original game. It doesn't take very long to recount what happened in the first game, for those discovering Guacamelee for the first time. Newcomers will catch up fast, while returning players will get a laugh at the abbreviated recap. A new threat has emerged and is looking to threaten the entire Mexiverse, requiring Juan Aguacate (the last living Juan across all the timelines) to don the mask once more and stop the evil Salvador from acquiring three powerful ancient relics and aquiring the Sacred Guacamole that can end the universe.

Yes, the plot is insatiably goofy and it sets the tone for the rest of the game. Like the first game, there are no cutscenes, as Guacamelee 2 relies on full text. Dialogue is delightfully campy, utilizing puns, word play, and one-liners to great effect. None of the game's characters veer into ultra-serious territory, from returning mentor Tostada to the Council of Uay Chivos. Even Salvador himself squeezes in quips in-between threatening reality itself. It's a light-hearted story from start to finish and one filled with unrelenting humor, especially from certain easter egg references.

Chicken Nuggets

Guacamelee's deep, fluid combat returns fully intact for the sequel. Juan can re-learn many of his best moves from the original game, like the Rooster Uppercut, Frog Slam, and KO Headbutt, and will have plenty of opportunity to use them. The fun is in finding ways to chain together these moves to create massive combos, while still knowing when to dodge incoming projectiles or enemy counters. Some enemies are protected by a colored aura that can only be broken by a certain move, giving players more of a chance to mix up their offense.

Guacamelee 2 also takes the idea of Juan as a chicken and expands on the idea. Players can polymorph between forms, just like in the first game, but there are now more chicken-specific dungeons and scenarios for Juan to fight his way through. Juan's chicken form is also just as capable of fighting as his human form, as he's still able to grapple and perform long strings of combos.

One noticeable improvement from the first game is that the Store that was accessed from save points in the first game is gone. Players can now upgrade various aspects of Juan's arsenal, like his lucha moves, directly from the pause menu. Improved versions of his moves open up for purchase after the lesser versions are utilized more in battle, giving players even more reason to mix up their offense. Costumes are also scattered throughout the world, offering more incentive to explore and go off the beaten path.

Walking the Ropes

One of the most memorable aspects of the first Guacamelee was the Metroidvania layout filled with rooms that tested out the limits of Juan's platforming abilities. Guacamelee 2 retains all of this, bringing back those obstacle course-style rooms that require precise timing and a good eye. A good number of the tougher rooms are optional, but often hold heart or stamina pieces, which make the reward worth the struggle.

On that note, Drinkbox Studios hasn't let up on the crushing difficulty. There are stretches of Guacamelee 2 that are brutally tough. The combat side of that can be remedied easily enough by bringing a friend along, with up to three more players able to drop in and out at any time. One side room, in particular, was filled with countdown bombs and practically required more than one player to cover each side.

The tough platforming rooms are still hard, regardless of how many players are around. These are the rooms that test out all of Juan's abilities, along with mechanics like the returning dimension swaps. In fact, having more bodies for these areas proved to be more fun, as we were able to laugh over our failures together. But Guacamelee 2 works in the sense that none of the challenges feel impossible and are entirely do-able. (At least for now. I have yet to try out the unlockable Hard difficulty.)

G2 Climax

Drinkbox Studios didn't set out to reinvent the wheel with Guacamelee 2, but rather built further on the original's formula and crafted a new story around it. Fortunately, that original formula is still wildly fun, with fluid combat, a vast world to explore (with numerous fast travel points), and secrets hidden all around. All of it is wrapped around a hilarious story that never takes itself too seriously, but does offer up some sincere heartfelt moments to balance itself out.

Those looking for a lengthier Guacamelee story than the original will be disappointed to hear that this story clocks in at well under 10 hours. That's perfectly fine, as it prevents the game's premise from wearing thin. There's also a big challenge ahead in finding everything, which should keep those hailing from the Perfectionist Timeline busy for while.

Look at Guacamelee 2 as gaming's equivalent of NXT Takeovers or New Japan Pro Wrestling's annual G1 Climax tournaments. They may not feel overly different from each another, but there's no questioning their high quality and they'll leave you anxiously awaiting the next main event.


This review is based on a PlayStation 4 digital code provided by the developer. Guacamelee 2 is available today on PlayStation Store and Steam for $19.99. The game is rated E10+.

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

Review for
Guacamelee 2

9

Pros

  • Hilarious writing
  • Fluid, diverse combat
  • Challenging platforming sequences
  • Giant world, ripe for exploration
  • Memorable characters
  • Brilliant hidden homages to other games and genres
  • Drop-in, drop-out co-op
  • Streamlined skill tree
  • Briskly paced story that doesn't run too long

Cons

  • Difficulty can get intense, especially for newcomers
  • Aura barriers for Headbutt and Pollo Slide look frustratingly similar

From The Chatty

  • reply
    August 21, 2018 7:00 AM

    Ozzie Mejia posted a new article, Guacamelee 2 review: Mexiversal champion

    • reply
      August 21, 2018 7:16 AM

      I loved the first one but tapped out when I got to the final boss. I didn't have the patience to die over and over and dude was stupid hard.

      • reply
        August 21, 2018 7:46 AM

        The final final boss or the final boss? The last one was definitely a bit overly difficult but for a regular play through that boss wasn't too hard. Felt about right IMO.

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          August 21, 2018 7:56 AM

          The super main bad guy that you chase through the game. If there's another one related to the hell levels then I didn't get that far in those challenges.

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            August 21, 2018 8:49 AM

            Ah, so the "final" boss. Yeah he's not that bad, he just makes you use every trick in the book.

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              August 21, 2018 8:53 AM

              In fact the mantis elders battle in Hollow Knight reminded me a lot of how he plays out.

      • reply
        August 21, 2018 7:47 AM

        Git gudded

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        August 21, 2018 8:44 AM

        Glad to see I'm not the only one.

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        August 21, 2018 9:21 AM

        It took me more than a few tries but it was doable and felt good to finally beat. Old school pattern memorization.

        The shit part was having to sit through his unskippable cutscene again before every try. Gahhh.

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        August 21, 2018 10:05 AM

        It's actually a pretty easy fight once you figure out the pattern.

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        August 21, 2018 10:41 AM

        Without spoiling anything, the last boss in this game is NOT stupid hard.

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        August 21, 2018 1:25 PM

        Good, he’s easier in the sequel

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      August 21, 2018 7:20 AM

      Did the first game have 4 player action?

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        August 21, 2018 7:47 AM

        No, two

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          August 21, 2018 8:41 AM

          Glad they increased the number.

      • reply
        August 21, 2018 10:07 AM

        The original release only supported 2 player but the Super Turbo Championship Edition upped it to 4.

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      August 21, 2018 9:22 AM

      Sounds good!

      Should be live on Steam in about 40 minutes: https://store.steampowered.com/app/534550/Guacamelee_2/

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      August 21, 2018 10:03 AM

      Purchased!

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        August 21, 2018 10:06 AM

        Same! The Steam store page doesn't show it, but when I bought it they gave me a 10% discount.

        Not sure if that's a launch deal or bonus for owning the previous game, however.

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          August 21, 2018 10:11 AM

          Ah, 10% discount is now appearing on the store page. Says it's on sale through the 28th.

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            August 21, 2018 10:22 AM

            Some are saying Steam owners of the original game are supposed to be getting an additional -10% off coupon that will stack. I own both versions of the original game and did not receive it yet.

            Maybe wait a bit if you care about an extra buck or two off!

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              August 21, 2018 11:14 AM

              Restarting Steam should make this extra 10% off coupon appear. (confirmed it worked for me)

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          August 21, 2018 10:23 AM

          Yeah my price was 17 with the discount

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      August 21, 2018 10:14 AM

      Is there a switch version in the mix?

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        August 21, 2018 10:36 AM

        This is my question too

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        August 21, 2018 11:20 AM

        IIRC it's launching as a PS console exclusive, not sure when it's going to hit the Switch/Xbone.

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      August 21, 2018 10:40 AM

      Switch? Switch. Switch!?

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      August 21, 2018 2:22 PM

      There's a code to unlock hard mode from the start if you're into that sort of thing.

      Konami style.