Guacamelee!, the little Drinkbox Productions game that came out of nowhere and suplexed my soul, is a whimsical platformer drenched in Mexican imagery. It also reminded me a little of Outland (which was one of my favorite games) due to a polarity system utilized in the game, and apparently reminded everyone else of Super Metroid. I played Guacamelee! at GDC, where they were nominated for an Excellence in Visual Art award at the IGF awards (they ultimately lost out to Kentucky Route Zero).
Check out the trailer after the jump:
“Carlos Calaca has kidnapped El Presidente’s daughter, and he plans to sacrifice her in order to merge the World of the Living with the World of the Dead.
Juan, a normal guy who stumbles upon a Legendary Luchador mask, must find the strength and courage to become the Hero he’s always dreamed of being, and put a stop to this. Not for you, not for Calaca, but for El Presidente’s daughter, the most beautiful girl in all the world.”
I’m not in love with the plot, as it features the stereotypical tale of a man trying to get his princess, but hey, the gameplay is almost good enough to ignore the fact that we are only going through all of this because the president’s daughter is beautiful, not because, oh, I dunno, she created a new recipe in her lab that cures cancer and she’s the only one who has access to the cure… *continues to rant for a few moments*
The gameplay is where this game really shines, showing off its signature “Metroidvania Brawler” action-adventure influenced platforming. Guacamelee! takes standard Super Metroid-like platforming and adds wrestling moves, the power to turn into a chicken, and portals into other dimensions.
Like Outland, the world opens up to you more as you learn additional moves, meaning you will often backtrack or revisit levels to access new locations.
The fighting moves are also used as part of the platforming, something that took a few tries for me to get used to, but this is the kind of game that has a level design that leads you to the answers, so I never felt too lost while playing.
Did I mention you can turn into a chicken? And that doing so makes you want to yell with joy as you zip across the screen? Well, you can.
There is also a co-op mode. Co-op players share the same screen, with Player Two controlling Tostada, a female luchadore. I immediately traded controllers with the friend I was playing with so I could be the badass luchadora.
Playing co-op was fast, fun and hectic. Interestingly, only one player needs to make it to the door to the next stage for both players to progress. I like this mechanic, because it will allow a more unskilled player to tag along with you, and also creates a small element of chaos, since the players need not necessarily work with each other. Look, what I’m trying to say is that I may have done some horrible things to my co-op partner in my desperation to reach the end of the level. Sorry, bro.
Art and Sound
The game takes place in a Mexican-inspired world, and the art and music reflect that. I loved the music, and it created a wonderful sense of urgency in the demo. As for the art of the game, well, it was nominated for an award in that area! The colors pop brilliantly, and I’m reminded of old school cartoons while looking at the stunning, almost paper mache-style characters and levels. Guacamelee! is certified eye candy.
When, Where, How Can I Get This Game?
Guacamelee! comes out April 9 for $14.00 on the PS3 and PS Vita, with a cross-buy feature, no less! Buy one and you get the other copy for free. Also, there’s a cross-save function, meaning you can start on your PS3 then head out into the world on your Vita with no time lost. You can also use the Vita as a controller while playing on the PS3, with the screen showing off the map.
I’m so excited about this game, especially with the under-representation of Latino characters in games. Now we have two new superheroes to add to the list of diverse game characters. Viva la Guacamelee!
What do you think? Are you planning to pick up Guacamelee?