'Guacamelee! 2' blends a Mexican fairytale with wild, flashy action

Juan Agacuate is back with new fighting moves and a chicken with stronger powers.

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    Good sequels are hard to make, especially if your first product was considered a hit by gamers and critics alike. That's a predicament that developer DrinkBox Studios is about to face with Guacamelee! 2, the follow-up to its beat-em-up, Mexican wrestler-themed game from 2014. But, I'm happy to report that the sequel may be even better than the original, thanks to an improved graphics engine and characters who are more robust (and powerful) than before. I played it at GDC 2018 and it didn't leave anything to be desired, at least based on the 30 minutes or so I spent with all the new features.

    The story of Guacamelee! 2 takes place seven years after the events of the first title: The main character, Juan Aguacate, is now living a happy life with children and a wife. That happy life, however, has to be put on pause after an evil menace threatens to destroy not just his beloved Mexico, but also the entirety of time and space in his universe. Naturally, given his luchador roots, Mr. Aguacate isn't about to let that happen and decides to come out of retirement in hopes of getting the world back to normal.

    This time out, Aguacate's back with some fresh fighting moves and player skills, like an "eagle hook" that lets you move around the air to get around enemies and get to higher-ground platforms. Your buddy blue-colored chicken, another character you can control in the game, is also much stronger when you're in combat mode. So, after you turn Juan Agacuate into a cute farm fowl, you won't have much trouble killing rivals and smashing objects with a new "chicken shot" that slings you into anything that may be crossing your path.

    I found Guacamelee! 2 to be more challenging than the original game, though that may have just been me needing to get used to the new abilities of Juan Aguacate and the chicken. Or maybe I'm just terrible at it. Either way, there's definitely nothing wrong with the game being harder to play, that just makes it much more fun to get through this uniquely styled story. You can expect to come across new bosses and more playable characters, as well. After all, you can play with up to four players at a time.

    Guacamelee! 2 is set to arrive this summer for the PlayStation 4. DrinkBox Studios told Engadget that it wanted to focus on perfecting the game for Sony's console, since that's where Guacamelee! was first launched. That said, the developer isn't closing the doors to the sequel coming to other platforms like PC, Xbox One or the Switch in the future. Let's hope so, because I'd play this regularly on my Switch.

    Click here to catch up on the latest news from GDC 2018!

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