Guacamelee! is a heavily-stylized MetroidvaniaLucha LibreBeat 'em Up for the PlayStation 3, PC and PlayStation Vita developed by Drinkbox Studios. The game draws its inspiration from traditional Mexican culture and folklore. Guacamelee! builds upon the classic open-world Metroidvania style of games, by adding a strong melee combat component, a new dimension switching mechanic, and cooperative same-screen multiplayer for the entire story. The game also blurs the boundaries between combat and platforming by making many of the moves useful and necessary for both of these. The game was released on April 9, 2013 in North American territories, just five days after the release date was announced. The Super Turbo Championship Edition version was announced, and has been released for Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 4, Wii U, and Steam.Despite being an indie game, it was pushed fairly heavily on the PlayStation Network due to being one of few games to fully support the Cross Play feature. Transferring saves from the Vita to/from the PS3 is relatively simple, and buying the game for one system also buys it for the other.Think ¡Mucha Lucha! meets Metroidvania with some of Grim Fandango's design sensibilities and the dual world aspect of Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver, and you've got some idea of the game.
Affectionate Parody: Despite parodying Mexican culture by including pretty much every stereotype ever conceived by the United States, Guacamelee! is careful about getting each reference just right, and the game is as much about celebrating the culture as anything else.
A God Am I: At first, Calaca only wanted to get back at the Devil and reclaim his glory. By the time he has completed the ritual, though, he has shifted objectives to becoming god of the living and the dead.
Anti-Frustration Features: When playing 2-player mode, one of the players can transform into a bubble at the touch of a button (to change back, the other player needs to punch the bubble.) This can eliminate the telepathy-level synchronization needed for two players to get past some of the more challenging platforming puzzles, as one player can hang back and let the other one do it at their own pace.
In the Tree Tops segment there are several barrels containing healing orbs as there are also many spikes and saws along the way to the top. You WILL need them.
In general, falling into Grimy Water or bottomless pits will just quickly put you back on a nearby safe platform without dying or even losing health. Similarly, getting stuck in a wall when you shift dimensions pops you out without harm. These features make many (but not all) platforming challenges less frustrating and makes it more reasonable for you to stumble upon the various hidden areas as you don't really have to fear dying from exploring.
Affably Evil: El Diablo, or Purple Pollo. He's always helpful and polite, mostly because he wants you to foil Calaca's plans that badly, and if you reach El Infierno he asks for your help once again. After aiding him with the trouble Calaca raised in El Infierno he makes joyful remarks about his job and offers his Diablo Suit.
The Alcoholic: If Flame Face doesn't have his guns drawn, he's usually got a bottle of tequila in one hand and a glass in the other. Oddly, he usually finishes off a drink by swallowing the glass itself.
The Final Boss doesn't even fit on the screen until it zooms all the way out for a cutscene.
Awesome, but Impractical: Combo Chicken can teach you about fairly impressive combo attacks, but you're unlikely to ever use them outside of their one instance of training. For one thing, it can be hard enough to get the timing and button sequence down on a punching bag enemy that is stationary and doesn't fight back. Weaker enemies don't have enough health to make the combos really worth it, while harder enemies generally have shields, dimension phasing, or dodge moves that wouldn't really allow you to make use of extended combos anyway. And if that wasn't enough, the environment itself may work against you by making certain moves a bad idea (e.g. a frog slam when all you have are a few floating platforms). Basic attacks, throws, and short combos will probably carry you through most or all of the game.
In the Tree Tops bonus area, after a series of grueling platforming sequences, you meet a chicken who tells you you're halfway up. On the next screen, you see the easily-accessible exit from the area, with another chicken nearby who says "Ha ha! Psych!"
Ballistic Bone: The red-serape'd skeletons throw these at you. Sometimes they throw one, sometimes three, but the little buggers are ALWAYS tough to avoid. And getting hit by one knocks you on your butt, or out of the air.
Bilingual Bonus: Plenty of speech is peppered with Spanish, and there are posters advertising "Gato Gruñón" ("Grumpy Cat") cat food with a stylized picture of Tardar Sauce.
Bottomless Magazines: Subverted twice in your encounters with Flame Face. He'll stand there laughing and firing his guns at the ground until you advance the dialogue, but as soon as he turns his guns on Juan they both turn out to be empty. When you finally fight him as a boss the trope is played fully straight.
The Bro Code: The goat hermit promises that once you become bros, he won't hit on your mother. Maybe.
Brutal Bonus Level: Three of the five/six optional Chac Mool altars test your skill at different aspects of the game:
First, say hello to Tree Tops, a lengthy gauntlet of platforming accessed through a blue block at the root of the Tule Tree. Every single special power you get from a Choozo Statue is needed, a load of stamina is needed, and a load of patience is needed.
Then, stay for dinner at la Caverna del Pollo (the Chicken Cavern) beneath Santa Luchita. A mine with three downwards shafts, each of them filled with enemy arenas of increasing difficulty. The third and final shaft, leading to the Chac Mool, throws the absolute toughest enemies of the game all at once at you.
And finally, say goodbye to your sanity at the Cueva de la Locura (the Cave of Madness), at the easternmost corner of the Sierra mountains. It consists of a gauntlet of Bottomless Pits with evil disappearing blocks that require split-second timing, memorization, pixel-perfect precision, and far more patience than the average goat hermit. And whether you fail at the beginning or the end (and you will) you must clear each room in one go.
El Infierno, choke full of trials that pushes the player's abilities to the limit from platforming to combat. Earning the Gold Medal in each room is a rage-inducing challenge, though you fortunately only need to collect ten of them to reach Chac Mool.
Bullfight Boss: Calaca himself. He attacks brutally and constantly, and can only be injured by avoiding his attack and countering with the correct special move.
Celestial Bureaucracy: More like Infernal Bureaucracy. What we see of El Infierno is a huge law firm ("Devil's Advocates") full of skeletal accountants and clueless undead clerks. It even comes with broken elevators, vending machines and parody motivational posters with hangmen and skeletons!
Childhood Friend Romance: It's hinted that El Presidente's Daughter has been in love with Juan ever since they were kids.
Chupacabra: They take the form of large-headed flying lizards. Essentially, tiny dragons.
Clucking Funny: Chickens are abundant, Juan can turn into a chicken to further exploration, and learn new moves from giant fighting chickens. The Devil is even reduced to a black and purple chicken who even lends you a helping hand at one point.
Dark World: The Land of the Dead is a relatively cheery version.
Dead Is Not Evil: The regular denizens of the World of the Dead are friendly and helpful, and would rather, uh, live out their existence in peace, and are NOT happy with Carlos Calaca trying to merge both worlds.
Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: When you run out of health, you just respawn at the nearest checkpoint with full health. In co-op, you just have to wait a small amount of time before you can respawn on the spot.
Calaca as the final boss becomes a monstrous creature and refers himself as a god of both worlds. Nevertheless, Juan/Tostada beats the crap out of him.
Difficult but Awesome: The Skeleton Luchador outfit negates any means of recovery aside from checkpoints, however you'll have infinite stamina, which gives you freedom to spam your techniques all over the place. Thanks to this perk, it becomes very useful in boss battles, especially so against Carlos Calaca.
The Alebrije costume turns the wearer into a Glass Cannon being able to kill anything very fast; however, the wearer will also take a lot of damage if he/she gets hit by anything. That makes it especially useful to complete the challenge in El Infierno where Juan/Tostada is a One-Hit-Point Wonder.
Disc One Nuke: In the STCE version of the game, all costumes are bought with a new, separate currency: silver. The amount you can get is limited, but even so if you hoard it and seek it out as much as possible in the early stages of the game, you can unlock some powerful costumes like the Skeleton Luchador or Diablo Suit before entering the Tule Tree. The latter is especially notable, as it could be considered a late-game Infinity+1 Sword in previous versions of the game.
Downloadable Content: A costume pack, and El Diablo's Domain (Also known as El Infierno), a series of extra-tough challenge rooms that put your combat and platforming skills to the test. Both are included right off the bat in the Updated Re-release
Dual-World Gameplay: The game shifts between the realms of the living and the dead, and there are platforms and enemies that only exist in one world.
Freudian Excuse: Carlos Calaca's turn to villainy came when, on the eve of the Charreada, he broke his arm and thus made a Deal with the Devil to mend it. But before he could claim his prize, the Devil dragged him down to hell. A vengeful Carlos plotted to overthrow the Devil, and then merge the worlds of the living and the dead just so he could get the praise that was owed to him.
Guide Dang It: The timed skull switch in the forest. It leads to one of the Chac Mool gateways, but to reach it in time you first have to figure out where the entrance to the path is (marked by a statue and a "not yet explored" smudge on the map), try and fail to open it, connect it to the skull switch, and finally realize that you can only get there fast enough by using Goat Fly on the hill the switch is under.
Heart Container: This is how health and stamina upgrades work in this game. For every three chunks you collect, the respective meter will increase.
He Is All Grown Up: Apparently, El Presidente's Daughter hasn't seen Juan in a while and is... impressed by what she sees.
Heroic Mime: Juan is never shown talking, but the dialog of other characters seem to indicate that he is indeed communicating with them.
Heel-Face Turn: The endings show that Jaguar Javier became one of Juan's friends after the events of the game.
I Have Your Wife: Jaguar Javier is only doing Calaca's bidding because the latter threatened to kill Javier's former master, the goat hermit.
Infinity+1 Sword: Two of them. The first is Diablo's Suit, which regenerates health when attacking enemies. Sure, it has less maximum health, but with health upgrades it's still a decent amount, and the regenerating health can more than make up for that restriction anyway. If you're reasonably good, you should have no trouble beating the entirety of the Caverna del Pollo Bonus Dungeon with it. The second is the infinite chicken flight ability from collecting the five/six special mask pieces that you can get before finishing the game. Both are likely to only be unlocked late in the game though, as Diablo's Suit is the reward from beating at least 10 of the 17 challenges in El Infierno with gold medals, which can be quite challenging and requires you to have unlocked most or all of the progression powers anyway. The Updated Re-release allows you to actually buy the costume, but unless you go out of your way to find silver coins or start a New Game+, you're not likely to get it early either. It is not surprising that infinite chicken flight is unlocked by the five/six mask pieces, as just getting to the beginning of their areas can be Guide Dang It obscure, let alone actually completing them as they are among the hardest challenges in the game. There's also a third that counts in certain contexts. The Skeleton Luchador can't heal from enemies but has infinite stamina for spamming special abilities. Since special abilities are also necessary for various platforming challenges, this costume can be very useful for them, especially the timed ones in El Infierno where you might otherwise have to spend a little time regenerating stamina.
Kick Chick: La Tostada's Stamina Attacks use kicks instead of punches like Juan.
Ledge Bats: The role is usually filled by Chupacabras or red skeletons, as their projectile attacks become trickier to dodge when the player is navigating a jumping puzzle.
Life Drain: All attacks do this while wearing Diablo's Suit.
Louis Cypher: The chicken that teaches Juan how to switch between chicken and human form is none other than The Devil himself, who wants to help you take down Calaca. He also shows up in El Infierno, where he asks you to help him get back to his office.
Magic Feather: As the Golden Ending implies when the Mask falls to bits, Juan always had the heroic luchador potential within him, he only needed to reawaken to it.
Masked Luchador: Juan doesn't begin the game as one, but quickly comes across a mystical mask and becomes one.
Mask of Power: After Juan is killed by Calaca at the beginning of the game, he comes back to life and gains power from the Mask on the heroic luchador statue in the World of the Dead.
May Inca Tec: No Incas in sight, but the environments smoothly and accurately blend Mayan and Aztec traits in the temples and enemies, with a small cameo from Olmec art via the Olmec Heads that teleport you to and fro. The Temple of Rain in particular bears heavy Mayan influence, with Kukulkan motifs everywhere, while the Temple of War is lousy with Toltec engravings and Atlantean columns.
Mentor Occupational Hazard: It doesn't happens in the game, but is used as a threat by Carlos Calaca to turn Jaguar Javier to his side.
Mix-and-Match Critters: Alebrijes are quasi-mythological creatures, mostly seen in traditional Mexican folk art, that consist of very colorful mashups of many different animals (which themselves might be mythical or not). Carlos' giant pet is described by X'tabay as "a fish crossed with a cat-snake," and even then she falls short of what it really looks like.
Bittersweet Ending: The normal ending of the game. Even after you defeat Calaca, you were too late to stop the ritual, and El Presidente's Daugher dies. Juan moves on with his life, and can even be happy again, but he never takes off the Mask of the Luchador and never finds love again. In the end, he takes off the Mask, allowing himself to die and rejoin his beloved in the land of the dead.
Golden Ending: By collecting all five/six Mask pieces at the altars of Chac Mool (the final one is always given to you at the end,) thereby proving your mastery of the game, the Mask of the Luchador is destroyed, resuscitating El Presidente's Daughter... and letting Juan remain among the living. She marries Juan, and they move on to an incredibly happy marriage together... with Babies Ever After.
This might be referencing the legend that, upon seeing conquistadors astride horses (unknown in the New World), Aztecs mistook beast and rider for one creature with two heads.
Necessary Drawback: All of the DLC costumes give you an advantage in one area, and a disadvantage in another area as a trade-off. For example, one costume gives you regenerating health, but gimps your stamina in return.
New Game+: Sort of. Once you start one file, you lose your previous one, but you carry any outfit you had unlocked previously. It's a good way to take on Hard Mode.
Nintendo Hard: Hard difficulty is far more ruthless than Normal: enemies deal much more damage, you earn less than half healing from defeated enemies, and bosses have at least one nasty additional gimmick to screw you up good.
No Celebrities Were Harmed: Of a non-human sort. The enormous Tule Tree is a direct reference to the real-life, world-famous Árbol del Tule in southern Mexico, which itself has been called "the Tree of Life" and is a millenarian tree with the stoutest trunk in existence.
No Name Given: El Presidente's Daughter. Until the Golden Ending: a banner during her and Juan's wedding names her "Lupita," an affectionate form of "Guadalupe."
Numerical Hard: The hard mode you unlock after beating the game mostly just increases the damage enemies do to you. It emphasizes dodging, of course, but if you're already good at that, this shouldn't be too much trouble. The bosses are a bit better, either getting a new gimmick to attack with or getting faster.
One-Winged Angel: Carlos becomes a titanic red demon after absorbing the energy of the world-merging ritual.
Pun-Based Title: On several levels! "Guacamole" is what you get when you make puree out of avocados. The main character is named Juan Aguacate —aguacate is Spanish for "avocado." A "melee" is an all-out disorganized brawl. "Moles!" is a Mexican interjection for seeing someone get the tar beat out of him.
Rapunzel Hair: X'tabay's flowing locks. It's a terrifying sight when her fury makes them stand on end.
Real Men Wear Pink: There's a fair number of attires Juan can wear that are either pink or pretty tacky.
Retcon: Minor ones show up here and there in the Updated Re-release to accomodate for the new levels. For example, after encountering Flame Face in Hernando's bar, he blocks the way to the desert, forcing you to make a detour through one of the new levels of the game, the Canal de las Flores. The Frog Slam is also found in this new level instead of Hernando's bar.
The pin-up calendars in El Infierno are set on the month of Smarch.
Shown Their Work: The depictions of Day of the Dead celebrations, Mexican folk art, Mexican slang, Pre-Hispanic artifacts and civilizations, Mesoamerican mythology, as well as the myriad video game Shout Outs, are incredibly accurate, and very respectful of the source material once you get past the humor. It helps that Drinkbox Studios has Mexican artists on staff.
Jaguar Javier plays a traditional Aztec jaguar warrior, wearing the garb and wielding the macana and shield. But more than that, he's an actual jaguar. So he IS a jaguar who is a warrior.
The Final Battle is advertised as "Máscara contra Calavera" (Mask vs. Skull.) Some of Mexican lucha libre's biggest, most celebrated fights have been "Máscara contra Cabellera" (Mask vs. Mullet.)
During the credits for the Golden Ending, a sharp-eyed player will spot El Presidente's Daughter's name: Lupita. Meaning, they're Juan and Guadalupe. St. Juan Diego and the Virgin Mary of Guadalupe are the most iconic religious figures in Mexico.
Take Your Time: Twice, the goat hermit outright tells you to go and prepare yourself before the challenge ahead: when you first open the way to the Floating Temple, and right at the Point of No Return (immediately before the Final Boss.) That's your cue to finish up the sidequests, bonus levels, round up chickens, reunite dead girls with their dolls, capture thieves, find missing mariachis... Don't worry, the ritual won't happen until you're actually at the altar itself.
Took a Level in Badass: Before taking up the Mask of the Luchador, Juan was a meek agave farmer with broken lucha libre dreams and a severe slouch. Becoming a hero turned him into a strong, confident luchador, and straightened his posture.
The Unreveal: Despite her status as the Mask's Guardian, first showing up in the World of the Dead, and wearing a mystical mask herself, La Tostada's identity, origin, or even motivations (beyond simply helping Juan out of the goodness of her heart) are never explained. The Super Turbo Championship Edition seems to give her some backstory though; Tostada was once a hero who helped save her fellow villagers from being killed by an erupting volcano, performing a Heroic Sacrifice. They live in Canal de Flores now and have memorialized her. There are wooden carvings of Tostada scattered around the area as well.
Variable Mix: The background music will segue between two different versions depending on whether you're in the living or dead world. The living world's version tends to be a bit jauntier and energetic, and the dead world's version is a bit eerie.
If you finish Combo Chicken's challenges, wherein you use the good-natured skeleton luchador Poncho as your punching bag, the last combo proves too much for him and he dies for real. Turns out he was Combo Chicken's only friend.
The method you obtain power-ups is this. It's made clear that the Goat Hermit's statues are priceless, important artifacts...and you have to destroy them in order to force the Hermit to teach you new moves. He is not happy about this arrangement.
Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: And without him, Juan wouldn't have gotten back his confidence, nor he would have become the heroic luchador he always dreamed of being. He might have even remained Oblivious to Love towards El Presidente's Daughter's affection.
Virgin Sacrifice: The other reason Calaca wants El Presidente's Daughter. "Haha... yaa... about that..."
Wakeup Call Boss: Flame Face, especially on Hard Mode. He uses guns and is rather fast, he also sics enemies on you, Demonic Spiders in Hard, periodically while shooting and charging at you and unlike X'tabay his fight has no checkpoints. He also uses a few flame attacks, which cover the entire floor but are easy to dodge if you switch dimensions or cling to the wall.
"Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: Both endings have a montage of what became of the characters afterwards. Whether Juan's beloved is with him or not is up to you.
Woman Scorned: X'tabay is not entirely pleased with the way Calaca obsesses over El Presidente's Daughter. After beating her, she decides Calaca isn't worth her time and gives up on the whole thing.
Wrestler in All of Us: Naturally. You start out with the ability to kick and punch, and after stunning an enemy, grab it and toss it. You can also buy further wrestling techniques like piledrivers and backdrops.
You Can't Thwart Stage One: No matter what you do, how fast you get there, or how many Mask pieces you've collected, you can never stop Carlos' ritual, nor you can prevent El Presidente's Daughter's death.