Welcome to the Day of the Dead
All Juan Aguacate wants to do is pursue two passions, one is to become a Mexican wrestler and the other is to win the heart of the El Presidente's daughter. Neither seem a likely event until that is, we get to the Day of the Dead.
Then by some unknown means, an evil skeletal villain appears and kidnaps the president's daughter! Then the village is set on fire by a bunch of marauding skeleton warriors. There is no sign of any help coming, so Juan takes it upon himself to rescue the girl and face the evil Carlos Calaca! But how can he do that? He has no special powers, no wonderful gifts to give him an edge.
But things soon change and our hero gets the chance to be a champion fighting the forces of evil, when a mythical being tells him that there's a lucha libre mask in the village that can grant him special abilities.
Juan gets the mask, gets the powers, but can he save the day and get the girl? Only time can tell and only you can guide him through the trials that lie ahead.
Following the main plot is an easy thing to do and you'll discover optional side missions. Each mission though grants awards so you may want to do as many of these as possible.
You also get money that can be used to purchase upgrades to Juan's move set, his health and other abilities he has, so the game has a sort of an RPG feel to it. Replay value would come from buying a different mix of abilities than used in a previous run through.
Are you the Juan for the job?
Juan is a pretty agile guy, and can jump and run as well as any other athlete, but with the aid of the magical mask he now has, Juan is practically a superhero! And he'll need those powers to aid him in many tasks from rounding up stray chickens to battling marauding skeletons who intend to mess up the day to say the least.
You will soon be throwing Skeletons around with abandon, slamming them into walls and ceilings and power bombing them back to the hell they came from! Viva La Rasa and all that!
You will also be smashing blocks, leaping gaps and rolling out of trouble and through some obstacles all for the sake of our hero's future happiness.
Time to play the game!
OK let's get to the game itself. First of all the controls are for the most part responsive but there are some combo moves that can be more than a little finicky to pull off. Jumping off a ledge and at the same time, performing an uppercut to break a block before he lands with a meaty smack on the ground below, is just one of the more trickier moves you have to do.
This however is far from easy and frustration can set in as you try and get the move off again and again and again ...
Once you have mastered moves like the above one described, you do feel a sense of accomplishment but you might find yourself facing the prospect of doing it again with some trepidation. On the flip side, combat combos are nice and satisfying in the bone crunching department and upgrades add extra spice to the proceedings.
It's bright and colorful with a very nice comic book feel to it, and animation is smooth and effective. Juan as said, moves very nicely indeed, but the control response can mar the experience which is a shame to say the least.
The music score though is bright, breezy and has that Mariarchi tempo to it as you would expect. It suits the mood of the game superbly and for the kind of game we have here, it's one of the best soundtracks I have heard for a little while.
There are no voice overs here, all dialogue is done comic book style in word balloons. But the dialogue is humorous and made me chuckle a few times. There are some nice puns here which I'll ket you find for yourself as you seek those power ups and upgrades!
These are located via the little altars that pop up in the game. Just visiting them will heal you completely and at the same time, will save your progress and this is a blessing as if you have trouble getting through obstacles and end up dying, you will respawn at the recently discovered altar. Most enemies seem easy to beat, but the boss fights will present some challenge to say the least, but if there's no challenge then you would get the complaints that this game is too easy!
It's family friendly but younger players may find the control issues an issue. But even mature gamers like myself may be swearing under their breath as they try not to die breaking through an obstacle or dodging poisonous vines.
There are no screen swipe interactions here, it's all traditional button presses and control stick combos that guide Juan through the adventure. An in game tutorial will explain all as you go through, just get that timing nailed right and you should be fine, providing the control response doesn't let you down.
So this is not an WWE style epic platformer but a decent little platform game that brings back memories of retro style games. The action does come thick and fast but, and this is quite a big but, it's short.
Sure you can replay through it with different skills, etc, but the whole thing can be done and dusted in 6-8 hours. It's sometimes slightly unresponsive controls also let it down, but this is still a fun game. It can be grouped with bigger games like Dark Void, Alpha Protocol, and Velvet Assassin as being a gem but a flawed one at that.
It's a shame that the control problems were not addressed before release, because we have a good game here, but it could have been a great game. Don't get me wrong, I liked it, I enjoyed it but it's not the experience it could or should have been. Perhaps some DLC to expand the game experience would be a welcome bonus but I don't see anything like that looming on the horizon any time soon sorry to say.
The score I feel is a fair one but I do feel that it could have been higher had certain problems been addressed before release. There have been no issues that mean the game has to be patched however. No frame rate problems, no pop in or drop out issues.
There is no online play here either by the way, and no cooperative game modes either, not that this title needs it.
The referee's decision?
The game is fun, and challenging, a little bit frustrating at times and that does mar the experience somewhat. But it's colourful visuals and soundtrack soon have you immersed in the game world and that's what we expect from a game isn't it?
Will it lure you into replaying it again and again? Maybe, maybe not. I intend to play through it again at some time in the future but I am in no great hurry to do so just yet.
A gem, but could have been a little more polished in the final execution.