Gucamelee released on the PlayStation Network on Apr 9 2013 as a cross-buy title. The game is playable on both PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita and both versions download when purchased. Guacamelee uses cloud saves to allow players the option to pick up where they left off when switching between handheld and home console. Upon its release, the game was part of Sony’s Spring Fever, which featured cool indie titles that receives special promotion on the PSN and a discounted price to PS Plus subscribers during its first week of release. Drinkbox Studios developed the title and it made plenty of rounds at gaming festivals before its release. It contains a large world connected between several areas full of obstacles where progress is gained through a mixture of exploration, platforming and action in the Metroidvania tradition.
Recently, Drinkbox released a new Costume Pack DLC for the game, which added three costumes with specific benefits and rewards to the game. These costumes come with new trophies that unlock for performing designated feats using the costumes. The patch for the DLC will give players on the Vita and PS3 the ability to switch between Juan and Tostada at the game’s checkpoints freely.
When we ran an interview with Drinkbox Studios’ Chris McQuinn prior to the game coming out (read the full interview here), he said that the motivation for drawing upon traditional Mexican folklore and culture came from Augusto Quijano, lead animator for Guacamelee, feeling homesick. This prompted Quijano to suggest doing their new game with a Mexican theme. After that the Drinkbox team started researching Mexican folklore and found there to be plenty fascinating stories to use as inspiration. The huge amount of research that went into the game is what makes the game look and feel so different from most games being produced today. Due to Drinkbox representing a hugely under represented culture and drawing upon that culture makes this game more than simply being a fun action-adventure platformer. Even though it was not their intention to make a statement to many Mexicans who find themselves or their culture not represented (or represented stereotypically) in video games, Guacamelee ends up making a huge statement.
What makes Guacamelee one of the best games in 2013 is that it executes on all the elements that make up a game superbly. The action in the game is frenetic and challenging with responsive controls. Juan receives new moves and power ups at a solid clip that allows the player to experiment with moves and combos before adding extra depth to the combat experience. In platforming games, unresponsive controls or dull mechanics tend to make the experience a slog. However, here there is a smart layout to each platforming section that makes excellent use of the dimension switching mechanics. There is one portion that will test sanity, reflexes and timing all in order to give the player a sense of accomplishment.
This game features a sumptuous and stunning art style resulting in visuals that radiate with life and color. Guacamelee has a color palette instead of muddled browns and greys! It is a good thing that the game forces players to backtrack when they get new powers because that gives them more opportunities to take in all that this lovely world has to offer. Then there is the soundtrack, which is outstanding. Blending traditional Mexican sounds with an electronic bent adds another layer to the game and makes for an addicting soundtrack. The story is beautiful in many respects (to read a full review on the game check it out here). Plus, Juan can turn into a pollo as his version of a morph ball.
Guacamelee is one of 2013’s finest games without a doubt. At $14.99, it is a steal (and $1.99 for the DLC is not too bad either). Check it out now on the PSN and do not feel like an orphan cabbage come the best of the year lists.