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Guacamelee Preview - Luchadorvania On Your Vita

One of our favourite PS Vita games demoed at PAX Prime last year, Canadian developer DrinkBox Studios' Guacamelee sets to bring a unique Lucha Libre-style, dimension-switching, metroidvania type game that supports cross-play functionality with the PS3. If you're not sure who DrinkBox Studios are, they're the same guys who developed the critically acclaimed Tales from Space: Mutant Blobs Attack on the PS3 and PS Vita.

Guacamelee is a Mexican-themed brawler/platformer that caught our eyes at the PAX Indie Megabooth last year with its multiplayer gameplay set in a magical Luchador (wrestler) world. It was colourful, over-the-top, and exuded a hand-drwan art style that stayed true to it's lucha-libre inspiration. It casts players as heroic, yet down-and-out Juan Aguacate who goes on a quest to save the president's daughter after she is kidnapped by the evil Charro Skeleton.

Side note: An interesting  game world for sure. And one that's rarely (if ever) represented in videogame form. I think the last uniquely Mexican-themed game I remember was Total Overdose for the PS2, Xbox, and PSP back in the early 2000's.

Anyway, In true metroidvania style, players will be able to unlock new moves that will allow them to go back and access areas that they couldn't get to before. Guacamelee has players collecting and upgrading their skills to not only traverse the diverse game world, but to defeat their enemies in Lucha-libre style combat in two dimensions. And when I say two dimensions, I mean that literally. Juan can travel through two alternate dimensions called "The World of the Dead" and "The World of Nightmares" in order to successfully move around the game world. These two dimensions also become a key component during combat as some enemies can only be attacked in one dimension and not the other.

Guacamelee Gameplay

Speaking of combat, Juan's got a cadre of attacks like the standard punch, kick combos; but since it's a lucha-libre inspired game, players can look forward to upgrading his wrestling power moves. You'll see the huracanrana (based on legendary Mexican wrestler Huracan Ramirez), piledrivers, powerbombs and such. If you're a wrestling fan, especially of high-flying lucha libre style (think Rey Mysterio, La Parka, and Super Crazy) then you'll love the combat in Guacamelee.

During my hands-on with Guacamelee, I found that not only did the game have a unique style, it was quite funny and lighthearted as well. I couldn't hold in my laughter as Juan, this big, brawny, powerful wrestler transformed into a chicken to access places that I couldn't get to normally. And then I realized that it was a funny take on Metroid's Morph Ball. Also, I ran into colourful and funny characters that taught me new abilities. For example, I learned the wall jump skill from a man-disguissed-as-a-goat. Funny stuff!

In multiplayer, one player takes control of Juan Aguacate and the other player takes control of Tostada, a female fighter who's got a vendetta against Charro Skeleton. You see, Charro burned off Tostada's once beautiful face, and now she has to wear Luchador mask to hide her disfigured face. She's got her own moves like Juan, and is as fearsome and able during the platforming sections.

Also during my hands-on, I was able to test cross-play functionality with a player playing on the PS3. I was surprised to find that there was no noticable lag with the gameplay. The PS Vita version ran at the same framerate as the PS3 version with no loss in detail. During the singleplayer campaign, Cross-play transformed the PlayStation Vita into an interactive map that shows where the players are in the game world.

If you haven't had a chance to try Guacamelee, head on over to your nearest PS Vita demo stand as the game is part of the trial titles on them. Seriously, Guacamelee is one PS Vita game that you should look forward to playing later this year.