To tell you the truth, I didn't have that much hope for Lucha Fury going in. If there are two genres that can easily underperform, they might very well be beat-'em-ups and wrestling games. However, when done right, they are also two genres I love and on which I've spent hundreds of enjoyable hours. I was also a little wary that this would be another Xbox Live Arcade game that overdoes the humor and tries too hard to get by substituting easy laughs for solid gameplay.
Luckily, it all worked out. Lucha Fury is a sleeper hit; something you owe it to yourself to have in your collection for those days when you have a group over and just want to escape into a game world for a couple of hours. The action never gets too repetitive, the humor only occasionally gets too corny, and there is a good sense of progression and discovery. The game handily vaults over the most obvious pitfalls and delivers a good time.
Lucha Fury handily vaults over the most obvious pitfalls and delivers a good time.
The story centers around four luchadores, masked Mexican wrestlers, who find themselves in the middle of a mass mind control scheme. The only thing that helps them keep control is a drink named "Pollojo," which is most readily obtained by kicking chickens. It seems a very powerful force has ordered Pollojo yanked off the market, and without their special drink our wrestlers are in a scrape.
There are eleven stages with very diverse backgrounds and enough change-ups in the enemy rosters to keep you from zoning out. Additionally, you start out with only some of your moves available, unlocking a new move of your choice after each stage. Many of the moves are just stronger versions of previously unlocked moves, however, so saying you have over thirty techniques at your disposal is slightly misleading. The game's built-in instruction manual is woefully short on information, but you can pick up everything afer some experimentation.
Four players can play at once, choosing from among four luchadores and another character that becomes available after you beat the game. The characters vary in power and speed, in addition to the look and range of their moves, though everyone shares the same button/stick commands for the most part. Varying your offense will build up your super meter more quickly, allowing you to unleash a signature attack by pressing both bumpers. These attacks range in effect from a small radius of damage to a limited period of increased resistance. A separate meter fills on its own with time and allows for a character-specific special move, which I actually found to get in the way with one character, given how easy it was to pull it off inadvertantly.
Teaming up has its advantages, of course. Players can activate team specials that go a long way in clearing the screen, and playing alone can sometimes get you cornered and pummeled with little chance of breaking out. The first time I played, I went solo, which took about three hours on the game clock but more than five hours of real time. To the game's great detriment, there is no online multiplayer.
Lucha Fury's art style and music are bright, energetic, and fun. A lot of effort went into both, but the verbal elements could have used a little polish. Besides the visual instructions (which worked all right for Portal but feel lacking here), the backstory is explained in a very cursory manner with tiny subtitles and no voice-overs, and there is an annoying lack of creativity when it comes to billboards. Given how rich the backgrounds are otherwise, it is a little disappointing to see "Lucha Burgers," "Lucha Sushi," "Lucha Gas," etc. all over the place.
For 800 points, Lucha Fury is a good value. It's got a decent amount of replay value, since you can't unlock even one character's complete move list in a single game, and it does have a lot of heart. (It's also the second game in a row I've played where the last boss is inspired by the common chicken.) I look forward to seeing what else developer Punchers Impact has to offer.