Reflection is good. It’s nice to look back on was has been and, remember the great achievements of times gone past. I’d like to think that’s why Game of the Year awards ares popular, not just so we can screech at each other about supposedly wrong opinions – something that’s sadly all to common in the world of video games. We’ve admittedly left our Top Ten Games of 2013 list a little later than most but, we did so that we might better experience all of last years big titles, in the hopes we don’t leave any great experiences unrepresented. 2013 was a fantastic year that saw some truly staggering games hit as the last generation systems gave way to the next. We start our top ten with Drinkbox Studio’s Metroidvania Mexican romp – Guacamelee.
Guacamelee – PC, Playstation 3, Playstation Vita
If recent years have proven anything it’s this: never underestimate the indies. Some of today’s biggest games are brainchildren of incredibly talented independent developers – doesn’t Minecraft says it all, really? We’re finally standing in a position where gamers don’t look at smaller indie games as lesser experiences no, they’re finally allowed to stand shoulder to shoulder with their AAA brethren and, that’s exactly what Drinkbox Studios Guacamelee does. Following the charming adventures of a brave Luchador Juan’s quest to save his kidnapped love from the malicious skeleton warrior Carlos Calaca Guacamelee is steeped in meme inspired humor; features a gorgeous art style, challenging rewarding platforming and engaging combat.
The Mexican inspired adventure might just be one of the best side scrolling metroidvania games in recent memory. At it’s start hero Juan is capable of naught more than simple movement abilities but, thanks to a steady stream of new abilities by it’s climax the Luchador supreme is capable of uppercuts, evasion, wall jumping, flying and, turning into a clucking chicken – that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Each technique is multi-disciplinary not only heightening Juans legendary fighting skills but, also expanding his impressive capabilities in environmental traversal. Can’t quite jump far enough to reach that ledge? A well timed uppercut with throw the player just a little farther. Exploration is rewarded as each new skill opens up new areas in old locations – some of which pit players against truly formidable challenges like, fiendish platforming segments or, exceptionally tough battles.
Besides platforming Guacamelee additionally houses an impressive combat system that, in true Luchador wrestling style, has players grapple with a varied cast of skeletal combatants using heavy handed throws, powerful jabs, kicks, headbutts and, for the truly skilled, entrapping unlucky rivals in deadly juggles. Combat isn’t an after thought, it’s a well considered and, entertaining part of the experience. Make no mistake about it though, Guacamelee is not an easy game, some platforming and, combat segments can really stump players – though with a bit of exploration to gather power-ups anyone should be able to complete the challenging normal mode. If that’s not tough enough anyone up for a real fight will fall in love with the skill testing hard mode that really ups the ante – I know I did.
Generously dispersed amongst Guacamelee’s delightful Mexican setting are hordes of gags for the internet generation, references to meme’s are stuffed into every nook, there’s always a new visual joke waiting around every corner. Gamers have plenty to oggle at too, as the Luchador will bear witness to many cheeky jabs at the expense of some well known titles or, video games at large. If you’ve never played Guacamelee, you absolutely should it’s a sweet eight hour Mexican romp that never fails to entertain, challenge and, make players feel absolutely awesome. It says a lot that Guacamelee is easily one of last years best metroidvania adventures – if you were let down by Arkham Origins, you’d be a fool to not give this a try for it’s awesome budget price.