There are few games more immediately visually appealing than Guacamelee! 2. The sequel to DrinkBox Studio’s original game, Guacamelee! 2 is everything that made the first game great. It’s bright, cheerful and continues to capitalize on the great gameplay mix of a Metroidvania meets a beat-em-up. It’s been a long time for Guacamelee! 2 to not only release but hit other consoles but that wait has been well worth it.
Guacamelee! 2 originally released in mid-2018 on PC and PlayStation 4 and this month releases on Nintendo Switch (with an Xbox One version to follow early 2019). The Switch version might be the definitive iteration of Guacamelee! 2 for how well the game’s simple to pick up but hard to master controls mold to handheld play. There's something about a challenging 2D platformer that feels at home on Nintendo's console. Regardless of platform though, Guacamelee! 2 is a very solid sequel even if it does contain a couple shortcomings.
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In basic structure and setup Guacamelee! 2 isn’t all that different from the original. Once again the player is put control of Juan Aguacate, a simple man from a simple village, until he puts on his luchador mask and gains unbelievable powers. The plot of Guacamelee! 2 takes place seven years after the events of the original and will take players about 10 hours to complete . A domesticated Juan is called back into the hero game when a new villain arrives to threaten the entire Mexiverse - the multiverse with a Mexican flair. The concept of the Mexiverse sounds far more entertaining than it is in reality both in terms of story and gameplay. The world(s) that Juan explores aren’t too differently designed from the original game map and the story keeps things relatively sane where it could've gone terrifically wacky.
In truth though the Mexiverse is just an excuse to have a new Guacamelee! as Juan did already save the day in the original game. This ends up doing far more good than harm. Guacamelee! 2 is more of the same but that’s not really a complaint since the same was so good the original game. Just like the original fans will be completing pulse-pounding platform puzzles, learning to master the deceptively deep combat system and exploring a world that’s as colorful as it is challenging.
It is slightly frustrating that Guacamelee! 2 doesn’t begin with all of Juan’s original powers already unlocked. In fact it takes a couple hours for Juan to get back to normal. The creativity of Juan’s powers and the way they opened up exciting new avenues of travel and exploration was most of the charm of the original Guacamelee so not having that initial excitement is a bit of a bummer. Once all the powers are regained though Guacamelee! 2 does get back to the same gratifying evolution for Juan as the original, especially when it comes to his chicken powers.
In Guacamelee! Juan gained the ability to transform into a chicken to reach certain areas. These sections were more headache than anything else. As a chicken Juan was weak, difficult to control and generally uninteresting. In Guacamelee! 2, Juan’s chicken form gets its own special moves and powers making chicken mode not only vital to progression but a delight to play.
Not every Guacamelee! 2 change is as praise worthy as the revamp to Chicken Juan. While the original game had straight co-op Guacamelee! 2 adds two more players into the mix for a total of four overall. It’s a total mess. Guacamelee! 2 requires precise platforming movements in several parts and combat can already be hectic with the large number of enemies on-screen. Adding three other human players is a New Super Mario Bros. level of destruction and frustration. Guacamelee! 2 doesn't have a life system thankfully and checkpoints are plentiful but the only way progress will be made is if one player does the work and everyone else stops.
Co-op isn’t the only area that Guacamelee! 2 feels more frustrating than fun. The sequel is much harder than the original, especially when comes to platforming. While it’s true that the most difficult challenges are optional and have significant rewards for finishing them, Guacamelee! 2 can sometimes lean more to aggravation that satisfaction. The game often demands split-second reaction time so unbelievably fast that it feels more like dumb luck rather than skill when a move is correctly pulled off. There’s nothing quite as teeth grinding as the final level of the original Guacamelee! which required several difficult wall dashes over a huge area with no checkpoints but the sequel comes close at times.
Even if the prologue recaps the original game Guacamelee! 2 is best for returning fans of the franchise. Playing Guacamelee! first is the best way to immediately understand the world and game mechanics of the sequel. Guacamelee! 2 improves on the original in a few key ways but it isn't the revolutionary next step that every gamer must play.
Guacamelee! 2 will be available on December 10 on Nintendo Switch for $19.99. It's available now on PlayStation 4 and PC. Screen Rant was provided a Nintendo Switch copy for review.