If you’ve ever descended into the deep well of professional wrestling, you’ll know Mexico has produced a scene unlike any other. South of the border, lucha libre is more than an oily entertainment form – it’s a mystical fiction full of real-life superheroes and villains who do battle every week in the ‘squared circle’. From the unforgettable names to the iconic masks, luchadors – the name given to Mexican masked wrestlers – have become a symbol of ‘rasslin at its most quintessentially theatric.
But what happens when you take one of those muscled heroes and fling them into a magical platforming adventure where your signature moves and finishers are all that stand between you and an army of the undead? Yes, it’s as ridiculous as it sounds, but that’s what makes Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition such a bizarre yet brilliant experience. One that fully embraces the many strands of Mexican culture – the cheesy melodrama of its soap operas, the reverence for death found in Día de Muertos (‘Day of the Dead’ if you were wondering) and, of course, the theatre of wrestling – and weaves them into one colourful adventure.
Boiled down to its simplest ingredients, Guacamelee! is part Metroidvania platformer, part brawler. You’ll explore all manner of locations from quaint villages to the depths of the underworld – and, as you might expect, there are plenty of secrets to uncover should you wish to backtrack at a later date with new skills and abilities you didn’t have before – but it’s the combat that really makes it stand apart from its contemporaries. Juan Aguacate, the masked hero of our story, will be relying on his fists and his knowledge of Wrestling 101 to pummel, slam and suplex his foes into a one-two-three finish.
Even after five years, it’s still a slick and rewarding combat model that looks great – that colourful, cartoonish 2D look really pops in both handheld and docked modes – and there’s so much room for you to mix up how you apply these abilities. For instance, a rising punch is a great way to knock an enemy clear, but it’s also a nifty way to extend the extent of your jump. You soon begin to appreciate how hard developer Drinkbox worked to create a synergy between platforming and combat mechanics.
If you played the original version of the game released in 2013 and didn’t try out this enhanced version, then there’s plenty of reasons to revisit it. Rather than just chucking on a new title and slapping on a higher price tag, this updated edition benefits from brand new areas to explore, as well as all the DLC content the game received post-launch. But it’s more than just extra stuff to do – you’re getting the most optimised iteration yet, with all the small yet significant changes that make Guacamelee! that bit more exciting to play. Something as insignificant as adding health bars for every enemy gives you just enough extra data to inform how you apply every flying slam or lariat.
The support for local co-op multiplayer – where up to four players can take on the story mode together – makes this a perfect fit for some split Joy-Con action, but it’s still just as slick and rewarding when played solo. It runs smooth as silk on Nintendo Switch, with nary a drop in frames or a loading screen that overstays its welcome. The HD Rumble support really makes a difference to all that brawling action and makes it instantly superior to the previous iterations on Wii U and PS Vita.
Over four years on and Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition is still a ‘rasslin riot that’s well worth a play. Despite the passage of time, this colourful indie effort doesn’t show its age and fits the portability of Switch down to the ground. If you’ve played it already on Wii U there’s very little here to convince you to double dip (unless, of course, you’ve only played the 2013 version) – bar the ability to play in handheld mode – but if you’ve somehow missed this lovely luchador adventure, you’ll struggle to find a better platform to play it on.