The premise for this platforming beat’em up hybrid won’t be forgotten soon, starring foul-mouthed Spanish drunkard Benito and his dim-witted pet chicken Pepito. After accidentally mistaking a dojo for a Chinese restaurant while severely intoxicated, Benito dons a fetching blue ninja-yoroi and vows to become a martial arts master. This doesn’t change his way of life, however – he still drinks, swears, and isn’t particularly kind to others. A literal chicken choker.
Indeed, it isn’t much of a surprise to discover an 18+ age rating, especially considering Benito’s penchant for using human shields(!) That’s before we even consider the decapitations, casual drug references, and dialogue that’s borderline culturally insensitive. To clarify further what you’re getting into; Donald Trump appears as a boss. Or at least, a parody thereof. The orange man.
Lasting around 3 hours, it’s a globe-trotting adventure that features platforming and arena-style battles against Mexican bandits, tribal warriors, mummies, abominable snowmen, and top-heavy robots. The end of each stage also features a boss battle, all of which require numerous attempts to beat – as every boss has more than their fair share of health-bar obliterating attacks.
For its visual style it utilises 8-bit style pixel art within low poly 3D environments. Had this game existed in the ‘90s, it would almost certainly be a mid-life cycle SEGA Saturn title. But not a good one; the kind that would receive a critical mauling from the likes of CVG and Saturn Power before being branded a stinker.
Problems emerge almost straight away. One of the core mechanics is wall jumping, with the second stage featuring a tall waterfall to climb, and most stages thereon also featuring obstacles that require this mechanic. Jumping simply doesn’t feel intuitive, with double jumps sometimes locking Benito in a vertical position. Becoming snagged on the background is a common occurrence too. This can even cause the game to glitch, with one instance requiring a soft reset. Benito’s air dash is even more unpredictable – in one instance, we somehow bounced off an obstacle and catapulted across the screen.
Just to further highlight the troubles we experienced, during the token elevator stage Benito somehow fell through the elevator. And then the game crashed.
The combat system isn’t much fun either. Nor is it satisfying. I can’t vouch for every version, but on Xbox Series, there’s a slight delay when performing a basic punch. I think this may be because one of the melee animations (which play out in a sequence) has a short build-up, but even so, it leaves you vulnerable for a few seconds. Health packs are mercifully common, but again, using one commences a short animation – meaning it can’t be used instantly when in a pinch. Using Benito’s chicken as a melee weapon is novel…until realising combos deal more damage.
Later, a few new attacks are introduced, and while the first (a homing attack) is useful, the second (a shuriken throw) has a ridiculous amount of kickback, prone to sending our antihero flying off ledges.
Then there are the aforementioned boss battles. These are challenging, with some calling for around 20 mins worth of attempts to beat, but the stiff difficulty is entirely due to the wrong reasons. I’d even say the majority require a degree of luck. Various beginner’s traps are present, such as rising lava and hazards that fall from above without warning, and just simply standing in the wrong place at the wrong time – such as before a projectile wave – can diminish an entire health bar.
Upon reaching the final stage, a snow-covered mountain, I decided to simply run ‘n dash past enemies – a tactic that worked flawlessly, taking me to the final boss almost completely unscathed.
It’s worth mentioning the two-player mode. If the second player is too far away, they’ll instantly teleport to your location, but not before the camera irregularly pans out, making it hard to follow the action. Once P2 dies, they can’t respawn until the next checkpoint. And if P1 dies, P2 can’t carry on – you’re both thrown back to the last checkpoint. The bosses are however a touch easier with a friend by your side, as there is no health/damage rebalancing for an additional player.
When I first caught wind of Albacete Warrior, I definitely believed it was in my wheelhouse. The daft storyline, swears ‘n gore, pixel art visuals, and the fact that it’s a side-scrolling platforming brawler all appealed. That appeal vanished the moment the awkward controls, glitches, and unfair difficulty level started to surface, with some of these issues coming to light almost immediately. I can only assume the quirky premise came first, and the core gameplay mechanics were a mere afterthought.
Developed by FAS3 and published by eastasiasoft, Albacete Warrior is out Feb 1st on consoles. It first launched on PC in 2021.