Ah side scrolling platform games. Back in the Megadrive and Super Nintendo days, side scrolling platform games were in abundance and many were of high quality. So, games like Guacamelee! 2, which is the follow up to the first game from Drinkbox Studios, always bring back fond memories for me. Does this one delight like the first?
For those who didn’t play or finish the first game, getting into Guacamelee! 2 is no problem as the game starts off with a reminder of how the first Guacamelee! ended, which was great for me as I didn’t get to enjoy the first game, although I will be playing it as I now have it on my Xbox One.
The guts of the story in this game is simple, the hero of the first game, Juan, while enjoying a peaceful life with his wife and kids after defeating the enemies in the first game, is disturbed by a new evil enemy, Salvador, which obviously now he must defeat.
Guacamelee! 2 is a joy to play with its clever and funny humour scattered throughout the Mexiverse. During all the challenging and very satisfying platforming and combat with its difficult puzzles and jumps that require perfect timing, you are often found laughing from the referential humour. In the first game, there was meme overload, but Drinkbox rectified this by adding depth to the gags. Pop culture posters populate Juan’s Mexico, but they’re not as over the top as in the first game. The referential humour in Guacamelee! 2 rears itself in the gameplay, where interludes in play reference classic and indie gaming hits ranging from The Unfinished Swan to even Guacamelee! itself. These prove very clever and provide chuckles.
Combat in Guacamelee! 2 feels great and is a lot of fun. As Juan lost a lot of his physical prowess in between the “virtual” timeline of the first game and this game, it takes a little while to reacquire all his returning powers. These powers include supped-up headbutts, ground pounds, a reality-shifting ability, and more. One of the coolest new things that Juan can do is latch onto and launch from any number of hooks floating throughout the world. They really add a new dimension to platforming, which, especially as the adventure goes on, can require some extremely difficult timing. Jumping, punching, hook jumping, and dimension shifting all must be done well to progress.
Thankfully, the added complexity does not deter from the game feeling fair and thus from you being able to get through the game and having a sense of achievement when doing so. The frequent save points help with this.
Up to three friends can lend you a helping hand in Guacamelee! 2 if needed. I unfortunately didn’t have the controllers or the friends (poor me) to play proper 4 player co-op, so I can’t comment on exactly how it would play out, but from playing the game alone and previous multiplayer platforming experiences, I can only guess that it would help in certain situations but would be a hindrance in others, especially in difficult parts that demand perfect unity which is hard to achieve with others.
As in games like Knack 2 where you can do co-op my most likely scenario for “Tag teaming” it in Guacamelee! 2 would most likely be letting my friend die as I coasted through a difficult corridor rather than spending time getting the timing right on a relatively easy obstacle.
The first thing you will notice when you start playing Guacamelee! 2 is the vibrant colours, which is an absolute delight to see, especially on a console like the PS4 Pro which is where I played this game.
Guacamelee! 2’s art style has you going back and forth into areas just to sit back and look at its beauty. Juan’s world just pops out of the screen with its gorgeous earthy browns and forested greens and bright blues and shocking streaks of pink. It really is a joy to look at that you sometimes forget to play lol.
As for the audio, this game features Mexican-inspired brass, strings and guitars blended with driving electronic beats for its soundtrack. This fits the game perfectly and adds to the visual splendour and Mexican environment of the game.
Guacamelee! 2 is a great follow up to the original and Drinkbox should be commended. There is no glass half empty in their approach to this game. It is funny, challenging, and rewarding and more than worthy of 4 red thumbs!
Craig Cirillo is an avid gamer and has been gaming for many years, from back in the Atari 2600 and Commodore 64 days until now with his Xbox One S and PS4 Pro. Craig had ownership stakes in 2 previous websites, Gaming Obsession Australia and All Age Gaming. He enjoys all types of games with his particular favorites being the Gears of War series and the Street Fighter series.