PAX: Guacamelee! makes me hungry for some good dip



4:34 PM on 04.07.2012

I've got a tasty concoction for you.

Take a sprawling Metroidvania, make it co-op, incorporate brawler mechanics, toss in some Mighty Switch Force platform switching, and wrap it all in a Mexican luchador shell with copious amounts of Spanglish sprinkled throughout the dialog. You've got Guacamelee! from DrinkBox, and it's every bit as delicious as I've hopefully made it sound.

When a game tries to mix all these different styles and game types, it runs the risk of falling apart from too much ambition. Guacamelee! avoids that by stirring together all these ingredients into one tasty party bowl to be enjoyed with chips and some tequila.

Most striking about Guacamelee! is its simple presentation. Its flat, angular style is very familiar yet fresh, drawing inspiration Dexter's Laboratory and other such cartoons. When I saw it, I was immediately reminded of El Tigre: The Adventures of Manny Rivera, a short-lived show on Nickelodeon about a superpowered Mexican teen deciding whether to be a hero or a villain.

As a Metroidvania, you gain abilities as you progress (in the form of wrestling moves) in order to open new areas. The twist here is that you can be joined be a second player. Player one commands the chief protagonist Juan while player two commands the female luchador Tostada. Together, you beat down skeleton warriors and polish them off with throws and body slams.

In yet another twist, there is a duality mechanic similar to the one in Ikaruga or Mighty Switch Force. By tapping a shoulder button, you can immediately switch between the world of the living or the dead. Certain platforms or walls will only exist in one world, indicated in the other by a white outline. Even some enemies can only be harmed in a certain world, though they can still deal damage to you regardless.

With a second player in tow, you have to carefully coordinate jumps and world-switching, which I can see being frustrating to teams who aren't completely simpatico. Graciously, only one person needs to reach the door to the next room, so players who tend to lag behind can allow those more skilled to run ahead.

Then there is the chicken transformation. Yeah... you can turn into a chicken at will. I have no idea what purpose this serves, but for the demo, it was just something fun for kicks and giggles.

DrinkBox tells me that Guacamelee! is roughly 30% done and is aiming for a late-year release. No platforms have been announced, but XBLA seems to be the most likely candidate. I'm sold on it, and I hope you all will give it some eyeballs as well.



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