Review: Guacamelee! 2 – A Fun-Packed And Often Relentlessness Metroidvania

It’s a ballsy developer that starts a game with a boss fight, but that’s precisely what developer Drinkbox Games has done in Guacamelee! 2. The opening scrap is used as a clever device for recapping the climax of the original game, as well as serving as a catch-up for those of us who either didn’t play or finish 2013’s Guacamelee (or the comprehensive Switch remix, Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition). It also sets the tone for a colourful Metroidvania platformer that’s deeply beholden to, yet also a steady progression from, its predecessor.

Seven years on from the events of the original, Guacamelee! 2 finds our hero Juan in a state of retired bliss, living with his family in peaceful Pueblucho. On an errand to purchase more avocados (which he seems to have been overindulging in), Juan discovers the need to re-don his mystical luchador mask and face a fresh inter-dimensional threat.

It’s that dimensional element that proves to be Guacamelee! 2’s key twist on the formula. You’ll soon be exposed to the concept of the Mexiverse, a daft spin on the multiverse theory of parallel realities. Here each and every one of those universes just happens to conform to Guacamelee’s cartoony Mexican folklore aesthetic, which means that even the key ‘Dark’ timeline is full of colour and humour.

Drinkbox mines this unapologetically silly premise for ample gameplay ideas, which occasionally call to mind the dual light/dark world mechanics of A Link to the Past and Metroid Prime 2, but with a major emphasis on laser-sharp platforming skills. It’s also the driver for a constant barrage of puns and intertextual references. Together with snappy dialogue that’s always played for laughs, Guacamelee! 2 proves to be a relentlessly joyous and inventive experience, despite its ‘more of the same’ nature.

For those who skipped the original, Guacamelee! 2 feels rather like a mash-up of Super Metroid and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, with the deceptively lithe and technical combat of the latter folded into the branching exploration and tool-gathering structure of the former. It’s predominantly a single-player adventure, though up to three friends can jump in at any time to help with the game’s plentiful scraps. It’s arguably a little too cluttered and chaotic to play the entire game in this way, but the option is welcome.

Guacamelee! 2’s beat-’em-up combat really is a key distinguishing factor. Alongside the game’s gorgeous aesthetic – which has really ramped up in detail this time around – it’s what sets it apart from other Metroidvania games. There are a dizzying number of punches, throws and special moves to steadily learn and perfect, and the game is brilliant at giving you incentives to apply them.

This relentlessly expansive combat system rewards chaining multiple attack types together, and you’ll often be locked into compact arena brawls with combinations of enemies that are particularly vulnerable to certain colour-coded openers. You’ll also encounter a hot-headed combat coach, who pops up periodically to give you a practical lesson in specific disciplines.

It’s a brawler as much as a platformer, then, though the latter component certainly isn’t neglected. Indeed, some of the jumping challenges you’ll encounter in Guacamelee! 2 require every bit as much dexterity and fine-tuned muscle memory as pulling off a flawless extended combo. Smartly, many of the most demanding of these challenges have been positioned as optional challenges, either branching off from the main hub world or within the game’s handful of dense dungeons.

Some of these challenges cater to Juan’s alternate chicken form, the moves of which can occasionally outshine our hero’s for pure mechanical fun. We’re thinking predominantly about the diagonal dash move, which can be ricocheted of certain surfaces to deliciously tactile effect.

The developer’s thoughtful structuring can’t fully shield you from various instances of frustration, however. Some of the platforming challenges will have you failing repeatedly, to the point where we suspect many casual players drawn in by the colourful visuals and cheeky humour will bounce off the game quite hard. Thankfully, Drinkbox has been very generous with the checkpointing and the speed of the restart process, to the point where a little perseverance will typically see you through.

Indeed, perseverance is key if you’re to see the game through. Guacamelee! 2’s eye-blitzing aesthetic, phenomenal pace, relentless quipping and sheer bombardment of fresh moves and mechanics can make it quite exhausting to play for extended periods. It’s like a heavily-seasoned, highly-spiced dish that tastes phenomenal for the first dozen or so bites, but leaves you a little queasy by the end. The very best Metroidvanias, like Hollow Knight and Super Metroid, revel in their long-form nature, expertly interspersing moments of intensity with periods of quiet reflection and exploration. Guacamelee! 2 can feel tiresomely one-note by comparison.

Played in bite-sized chunks, however, Guacamelee is like a burst of fiery flavour that rarely fails to brighten up your day. Its combination of kinetic combat and platforming gymnastics feel fresh and inventive, even second time around.

Conclusion

A dazzling, thrilling action-platformer with a potent cocktail of combat and platforming components, all set in one of the most appealing game worlds around. It’s not a massive progression from the original, and its sheer relentlessness can prove tiresome, but Guacamelee! 2 is a real celebration of a sequel.

NIS America Brings Lapis x Labyrinth To The West In 2019

The ‘Kinda Funny Video Game Showcase’ was able to include a Nippon Ichi Software announcement with the assistance of NIS America. If you’re one who embraces the grind in role-playing games, the dungeon-diving action title Lapis x Labyrinth is now officially arriving here locally on the Nintendo Switch at some point in 2019. The news isn’t all that surprising, consider there is less than a month left of 2018 and we haven’t heard about the international release of this title since September.

During the showcase, NIS America shared the western announcement trailer for the game, which you can view above. If you missed the previous announcement, the game places players in the center of a high-octane treasure-hunting quest. Here, danger leads to bigger and better rewards. All you have to do is slay hoards of monsters and overcome many traps to gain riches beyond your wildest imagination. Below is the full rundown:

When a struggling village falls on hard times and is desperate need of wealth, there’s only one solution: gather your comrades, venture into the Labyrinth below the Golden Forest, and claim the piles of gold and treasures hidden within! You will need all your courage and wits to survive the dangers ahead, but the treasures that await you are well worth it!

Customize your team with over 4,000 unique combinations, then use the creative stacking mechanic to perform synchronized attacks. When you’ve racked up enough destruction, unleash the explosive power of Fever Mode to really make the cash flow! With 8 different character classes, engaging monster encounters, and stylish, over-the-top visuals, this adventure has everything you need to make it rain!

As we previously noted, each of the eight playable character classes have different traits, usable weapons, and fighting styles. You can choose from a Hunter, Necromancer, Shielder, Maid, Gunner, Wizard, Destroyer, and Bishop.

The game will also receive a limited edition physical release which includes the game, a photo album, soundtrack, poster, mini-art prints and collector’s box for $59.99. Pre-orders are now live on the official NIS America store. Take a look below:

Take in the trailer above and tell us if you’re interested in playing this when it does arrive here in the west.

Skybound Releasing Episode Three Of The Walking Dead: The Final Season On 15th January 2019

After Skybound Games CEO Ian Howe mentioned how disappointed he would be if episode three of The Walking Dead: The Final Season wasn’t released this year, the company behind the former Telltale project has now revealed the next chapter will launch on 15th January.

This announcement was made during the ‘Kinda Funny Video Game Showcase’ on Twitch. Here’s the official Twitter confirmation along with a new video for the upcoming episode, which is also a bit of a recap of the series so far.

Will you be playing and supporting the release of this game? Have you been anticipating the arrival of this episode? Tell us below.

Limited Run Games Releasing Physical Editions Of Celeste And Windjammers

During the ‘Kinda Funny Video Game Showcase‘ on Twitch, Limited Run announced physical editions for the indie game of the year Celeste and the retro hit Windjammers.

Windjammers, developed by DotEmu, will be available to pre-order from LRG website on 21st December and Celeste by Matt Makes Games can be secured from 1st January onward. Below is a look at both of the box arts:

Right now, there’s no word on when exactly either of these games will ship or how much each one will cost.

Will you be adding these titles to your physical Switch library? Let us know in the comments.

Thomas Was Alone Dev Has Just Launched Sci-Fi Text-Based Adventure Quarantine Circular On Switch

The May 2018 PC release Quarantine Circular has just been made available on the Switch eShop following an announcement by the game’s creator Mike Bithell during the ‘Kinda Funny Video Game Showcase’ on Twitch.

Bithell Games was previously responsible for Thomas Was Alone and Subsurface Circular. Quarantine Circular is a mature sci-fi text-based adventure set in the middle of a world-ending pandemic, as a group of scientists discover the galaxy has been watching them. The title is described as a “one-sitting game” for adults in search of a new world to discover. Here’s a bit more about it from the game’s Steam page:

Quarantine Circular is about on a par with the average network TV science fiction episode in its depiction of mature themes and gore. We like to think of it as ‘adult’ in the sense that it focuses on themes of humanity and philosophy, not because of any grossness or sexiness.

It’s also worth noting the title is its own self-contained story and does not require players to experience Subsurface Circular beforehand – a game released earlier this year on the Switch eShop.

Take a look at the trailer above and tell us if you’re in the mood for a text-based adventure on the Switch.

[via youtu.be, twitter.com]

The Messenger Is Embarking On A Sunny Holiday In 2019

During the ‘Kinda Funny Video Game Showcase’ the developer Sabotage Games and publisher Devolver Digital lifted the lid on the next outing for The Messenger.

The 2D side-scroller inspired by the original Ninja Gaiden game will receive an entirely free DLC pack titled ‘Picnic Panic’ in 2019 that takes players on a trip to tropical paradise to defeat three bosses. Right now, there’s no other information about this upcoming content pack other than the above trailer. Below is the confirmation tweet:

Not long ago, a quality of life patch was released for The Messenger. This added New Game Plus, a jukebox mode and the ability to remap controls. You can see it all in action in this video.

Are you excited about free DLC arriving for The Messenger at some point in 2019? Have you downloaded this game yet? Leave a comment below.

[via twitter.com, youtube.com]

Warframe Now Has One Million Players On Nintendo Switch

The free-to-play third-person shooter Warframe has already reached the one million player mark on Nintendo Switch in less than a month. Digital Extremes – the Canadian publisher behind the title – celebrated this epic milestone by sharing the following tweet:

If you haven’t tried out Warframe yet, it’s a game that’s been ported across to the Switch with the help of the specialist team at Panic Button. The title was originally released on PC in 2013 and has steadily improved over time.

Games Industry notes how the sci-fi experience saw its best concurrent user peak on Steam last month, with 132,000 Tenno logged in at once. Prior to the Switch release, the game had 38 million registered players across all platforms. Considering 22.86 million Switch have now been sold worldwide as of September this year, there’s still a sizeable audience to attract.

Are you one of the players who has downloaded Warframe on the Switch? Tell us below.

Masahiro Sakurai Rules Out A Modern Port Of Kid Icarus: Uprising

Earlier this week when Nintendo was counting down the days until the release of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate on the Switch, it revealed a previously unpublished augmented reality card for the 2012 3DS release, Kid Icarus: Uprising.

If it got you wondering about a potential comeback, think again. During an interview with Edge Magazine (as transcribed by Nintendo Everything), the game’s creator Masahiro Sakurai touched on the revival of this classic Nintendo series and said a modern port of the 3DS entry would likely not be possible:

“As a game in general, it’s rich in content and enjoyable, and people have even asked for a modern port. However I don’t think this will be possible.”

Sakurai reflected on the development cycle of the 3DS title, explaining how difficult he found the entire experience to be:

“I could say that this was close to becoming the most difficult project in my entire career, both in terms of the team and the hardware. The team I had gathered differed greatly in culture and ways of thinking, so there was always confrontation. In addition, back when we were developing the game, we still couldn’t make full use of the power of Nintendo 3DS. Some improvements in aspects such as the middleware were made later on, but since the game was being made in the initial stages of Nintendo 3DS development, we had a really hard time doing what we wanted to.”

Way back in 2012, a few months after the release of Uprising on the 3DS, Sakurai ruled out a sequel to this game. When IGN asked if the now disbanded Project Sora had created a “lasting universe” the team could return to, the creator of the Super Smash Bros. series replied with the following comment:

“If by ‘lasting universe’ you mean to ask if there’s a sequel, the answer is no.”

The reason behind this was because Sakurai felt the novelty of the experience would likely “grow thin” in future entries. This was his final thought:

“For now, my thought is that perhaps we’ll see someone else besides me make another Kid Icarus in another 25 years.”

Are you disappointed to hear Uprising likely won’t be revived for the modern hardware generation? Would you like to see a future entry in the Kid Icarus series? Did you enjoy Sakurai’s 3DS revival? Tell us below.

Talking Point: What Are You Playing This Weekend? (December 8th)

As regular readers will know, every weekend we post a write-up of the games Team Nintendo Life will be playing in our spare time. As you’ll also likely know, this week saw the release of a pretty major Nintendo game, and you can probably guess where this week’s entries are headed. So, please accept our apologies for the incredibly obvious games we’ve picked this time around, and feel free to join in with our poll and comment sections below. Enjoy!

Jon Cousins, Japan correspondent

All gathered ’round the TV, a brisk winter evening. Tournaments. brackets. You all know the setup. Choose your character, strength and weakness. No do-overs, second chances and definitely no Johns. Snatching victory from the jaws of defeat, last-second heroics or one silly mistake. The victor, the spoils, the should have, could have, or would have been. On the outside its all for fun but deep down we yearn, crave and long for glory. There’s no use hiding it. This weekend I will be playing… Wii Sports Tennis.

Ryan Craddock, staff writer

This weekend – as I’m sure we’ll all agree – is an utterly glorious one, and one that I’ll be using to finally scratch an itch I’ve had for the last few months. As gaming fans, most of us will be familiar with that excited feeling of waiting for the post to arrive, or that moment when cash exchanges hands at the store checkout, and you can finally hold that precious game you’ve been waiting for.

From its incredible collection of characters to its gorgeous design, and from its multiplayer perfection to its amazing amiibo implementation, this game really has it all and I can’t wait to get stuck in. That’s right folks, the game I’ll be playing all weekend – and for weeks to come, I’m sure – is Animal Crossing: Amiibo Festival.

Gavin Lane, contributing writer

With so many fantastic options, picking what to play should be a toughie, but this weekend there’s really no competition. The mere whisper of the title is sure to evoke strong emotions and unforgettable memories in any loyal Nintendo fan. The multiplayer fun it’s given gamers over the years is incalculable; it’s one of those rare games that absolutely anyone can pick up and play, and it’s been an internet favourite ever since that E3 reveal set tongues wagging. Yep, apologies to be ‘Captain Obvious’ but this weekend I’ll be firing up an absolute doozy – you guessed it! – Wii Music. Whaddagame!

Austin Voigt, contributing writer

This weekend, I’ll be getting my Nintendo Versus gaming ON with one of the Switch’s biggest crossovers! The only other version of this game that I’ve experienced was on 3DS, so I am pumped to get back into this series with HD graphics & new stages to battle it out on. The most exciting thing I’m looking forward to is the competitive multiplayer action, so I can knock all of my friends around a bit as well. The improved graphics and technical performance are just icing on the cake. I honestly don’t think I’ll need any other games on the Switch, ever. This one completes me. Well, see ya on the Aqua Moto Racing Utopia leaderboards, suckers!

Liam Doolan, news reporter

My main for many years now has been Link. Out of all the Nintendo characters, in my opinion, he’s always been the most all-round fighter there is. That trademark spin-attack, the unlimited bombs he has at his disposal and his trusty bow and arrows always deliver the final blow – not to mention the fact he’s saved the land of Hyrule on multiple occasions over the past few decades. How could you not be impressed? That’s why this weekend, I’ll be defeating evil in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild – Link’s grandest adventure yet. He’s my hero of all-time and always will be.

Steve Bowling, US editor

What am I playing? Same thing as everyone else, obviously! I’ll be grabbing some friends, gathering around the screen for the same intense, pulse-pounding experience as the rest of you. My heart races just thinking of the crazy, chaotic rounds I’ll be running this weekend. I’ve been waiting so long for this moment. I just hope nobody snags my main since I’m a little possessive. I can’t wait to take it to the competition with Bishnu in Astro Bears Party!

…What?

Gonçalo Lopes, contributing writer

Since there are no major Switch game releases this week (ahem) I have decided to put mine away and hook up my trusty Nintendo 64 instead. I’ve had this craving for some smashing action for a while now so I dug up one of my all-time favourite fighting games on the system. That’s right, you probably have already guessed which game I’m talking about since there weren’t that many to begin with: Flying Dragon!

Developed by Culture Brain and part of the Hiryū no Ken series, this little gem was rightfully described by N64 Magazine as “our very own Tekken”. It was no easy feat to keep the charming nature of the super-deformed 2D sprites but they pulled it off. And if someone is giving you lip because the SD characters look too immature, just switch to ‘Virtual’ mode and the roster turns into realistically proportioned humans. It has aged rather well and this is how I will blissfully be spending this weekend.

Alan Lopez, contributing writer

When I originally read that they were adding even more models to an already robust lineup, I had to stop and ask myself how any one video game could ever get this big. Honestly, how do they fit it all inside that cartridge?

I mean, sure, the Pasaat line is a given, and the Jettas were a strong likelihood, but the attention to detail to surprise announce both the Scirocco and Golf Mk lines of Volkswagens displays such a love for fan sentiment, there’s no doubt in my mind Beetle Adventure Racing! is the greatest franchise-based video game ever made. Finding all the branching paths and crashing into each crate will definitely be taking up my entire weekend. There’s no guarantees the weekend after that is safe either.

And did I mention my friend let me borrow his rumble pack? I’m stoked. “Das Auto” is now DAS game.

Which games are you playing this weekend? (110 votes)

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

43%

Ultimate Smashing of the Super Brothers

10%

Brothers Having A Super-Ultimate Smashing Time

14%

Something else (comment below)

34%

Please login to vote in this poll.

As always, thanks for reading! Normal Talking Point service will resume next weekend – we hope you enjoyed our silly ramblings for this one-off special!

Make sure to leave a vote in the poll above and a comment below with your gaming choices over the next few days…

Fire Emblem Heroes Experiences Decline In Player Spending During The Month Of November

Nintendo’s free-to-play mobile release Fire Emblem Heroes has experienced a significant slump in player spending last month. According to Sensor Tower Store Intelligence data, the game only reached around 66 percent of its average monthly earnings in November. Since arriving on mobile platforms in February 2017, Heroes has raked in $21 million per month, whereas this November was down to $13.8 million worldwide. That’s a decrease of roughly 19 percent year-over-year.

Sensor Tower links this decline in player spending to the release of Dragalia Lost, which was launched in September. Nintendo’s new free-to-play mobile release, developed by Cygames, has manged to outperform Fire Emblem in both October and November. Just recently it surpassed $50 million in player spending after 70 days. It’s quite an impressive feat for a game that is currently only available in five select territories compared to one that has been released in 43 locations.

The revenue for Fire Emblem Heroes in November predominantly came from Japan – which accounted for close to 60 percent in terms of player spending. 28 percent of this spending came from the US. To date, the game is estimated to have grossed $465 million worldwide across the App Store and Google Play.

Did you spend any money on Fire Emblem Heroes in the month of November? Have you played or downloaded Dragalia Lost? Tell us below.