There's a lot more to wish from indy hit Guacamelee
but one thing the game does right, one thing from which all other game companies should learn, one thing so important that it got me to start writing video game reviews on a hopefully weekly basis, and that's GAME DIFFICULTY.
Game Difficulty is not an excuse to make players redo the whole stage over and over again because you missed a jump. "Difficult" is not adding HP or extra damage to monsters. I swear there are still too many punishing mechanics masked as challenge curves such as forcing the player to wait or rushing to reclaim everything that you've earned in a previous playthrough. "Difficult" makes the player think and plan. "Difficult" should challenge the game developer as much as it challenges the player.Guacamelee
is difficult, especially if you want the true ending, but it's not punishing. I miss a jump, I go back to the last platform, I try again. THIS IS HOW IT SHOULD BE. THIS IS WHAT EARNS THIS GAME THE THUMBS UP FROM THIS REVIEWER. I never felt like I was wasting any time playing Guacamelee. There's variety in the platforming challenges, introduced by incorporating the special moves that you discover as tools to broaden movement. The Rooster Uppercut introduces double, then triple jumps. The Dashing Derpderp (bad name, I know), brings a horizontal dash and so forth... There's no resource management to worry about (and that's including health management), you just have the platform challenge in its purest form.
I'm old. Thirty-five years old. I've played the old NES platformers. There is absolutely nothing good to remember from any of these games.
None. I'm gushing because I remember ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥ Castlevania, ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥ Ninja Turtles and ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥ Megaman and Guacamalee
ISN'T LIKE THAT. Thank goodness. By the way, that's why every review of Shovel Knight has made me wary of it. Briefly considered it, considered the hype, remembered the old days and went NUH-UH.
Ironically, the hard mode of this game is a complete wash. Just more damage from the monsters and more hits required to kill 'em. Kinda breaks the whole point of my review but I really wanted to laud everything else about this game.
It really does seem like a fun challenging platformer with monsters thrown in because of course you need monsters to smash. A whole combo tutorial camp and none of its lessons are ever necessary. A game built around luchadors and then you have this weak ♥♥♥ combat system. It's kind of a bait-and-switch in that regard: the moves you unlock seem to have a platforming purpose first and an enemy bashing purpose second... Artificial purpose at that, what with the introduction of colored shields to force you to use the appropriately colored attack. That's a juvenile way to handle combat. Boss fights centered on pattern recognition? Yes, that is a hallmark from the platformers of old but that doesn't mean you couldn't add some innovation on it.
I ain't mad, and this is coming from a huge wrestling fan who bought the game because he wanted to play a luchador protagonist. The rest of the game made it worth it.