One of my most anticipated games this year is Guacamelee, developed by Drinkbox Studios the team behind the amazing Tales From Space: Mutant Blobs Attack for the PlayStation Vita. Guacamelee is their latest 2D metro-vania styled platformer will be coming to PlayStation 3 and Vita, in just two weeks time. Launching April 9 in North America and April 10 for European and Australian audiences.
With the games launch just around the corner I was lucky enough to speak DrinkBox Studios Game Designer, Chris Mcquinn. In this interview we get some more information on the plot of Guacamelee, what it’s like to develop for the PSVita, the companies future and the best way to describe Guacamelee.
AA: What was the inspiration behind ‘Guacamelee’s’ premise? Were you always looking to create a Mexican themed game, or was it an interesting idea you decided to run with?
Chris McQuinn: Our studio has a fairly horizontal pitch policy, so anyone can throw an idea forward during game concept meetings. In relation to the Mexican theme, that really came from our animator Augusto who basically was a bit homesick, and put forward the idea. At first we all weren’t sure but quickly realized how well a Mexican theme worked with our platform/brawler.
AA: The games protagonist, Juan Aguacate, what is his story? How is he able to use such abilities, like my personal favourite, turning into a chicken?
Chris McQuinn: Ha. Well, Juan is pretty much an outstanding guy, quiet, hard working agave farmer, who is built like a brick house. Through a bit of fate he gains an ancient mask that allows him to save the world. No big whoop. As for the chicken, well, that is explained in the story – but let’s just say you get help from an unexpected ally.
AA: Your team has promoted ‘Guacamelee’ as a Metro-Vania style action-platformer, were these classic games a big influence when deciding how exploration would work?
Chris McQuinn: I wouldn’t say those games exclusively – although they do define the genre Metro-vania, but there are other games that influenced us. Many of the core members of the team love exploration games, including the mentioned classics, but also including newer titles like Cave Story and Shadow Complex.
AA: Combat seems to be another main focus of ‘ ‘Guacamelee’, how would you describe combat? Are there any comparisons to other titles?
Chris McQuinn: The combat system in Guacamelee! is something that took a long time for us to refine until we were happy. The objective was to make a system that was fairly deep if the player wanted to explore that, but also easy enough that we weren’t going to require everyone to become a fighting expert. If you want to string together a 20 hit combo in mid air, then you can, but if you want to keep it simple, that works too. Although, not as well
AA: ‘Guacamelee’ also offers cooperative multiplayer, does this work across both platforms? So PS Vita players can play with PS3 players?
Chris McQuinn: The co-op is only local for the PS3 – although you can use your PSVita as a controller with your PS3. Of course the game also runs independently on the PSVita when you need to be on the move.
AA: Would your team ever consider making a retail based title? Or are you dedicated to providing online based products?
Chris McQuinn: Retail titles are serious endeavours usually reserved for large companies, so, that’s probably not in the cards for us. We love being a fairly small studio so growing to those numbers probably won’t happen. In addition, it seems that the retail-box-games are moving to online, so – we’re already where we need to be.
AA: Drinkbox seems to be one of the major developers for PlayStation Vita, what do you love about the console?
Chris McQuinn: The PSVita is really a great piece of hardware, first off. The PSVita allows us to run Guacamelee! at 60fps , has a screen that allows for every colour to pop out, and just looks amazing.
AA: Is the Vita an easy system to develop games for? Are you confident the handheld can continue to grow?
Chris McQuinn: Developing on the PSVita has been refreshingly more convenient in a lot of aspects than previous consoles. I think Sony took a lot of positive criticism into account when planning on how developers would work with the Vita. The PSVita growth will depend on the titles available – so it is always a good sign when games like Limbo and Spelunky are announced for the Vita.
AA: We have confirmation that ‘Guacamelee’ has a coveted Platinum Trophy, how long would you consider this Trophy taking? And as a Trophy-Lover myself, will the two versions of the game have separate Trophy lists?
Chris McQuinn: There is a single Trophy list across the PS3 and PSVita. As far as length – I’d say achieving the Platinum Trophy could take a while – depends on the skill of the player really. Some of the secrets are buried pretty deep – so depends how quick the internet is at finding them.
AA: As a big fan of the original PSVita version I have to ask, is there any chance of ‘Tales From Space: Mutant Blobs Attack 2’?
Chris McQuinn: There is certainly a chance of that, but nothing on the horizon at the moment.
AA: What can Drinkbox fans expect from your team in the future? Any unannounced projects in the works, or are you 100% focussed on ‘Guacamelee’?
Chris McQuinn: Currently we’re heavily focused on Guacamelee!, although I wouldn’t say 100%. We like to stagger projects.
AA: Thank you very much for your time but before we go, one last question. If you had to convince someone to buy ‘Guacamelee’ with just one sentence, how would you describe it?
Chris McQuinn: Luchadores smashing skulls.
Are you as excited about the “Luchadores smashing skulls” gameplay that Guacamelee offers, as I am? With the games release so close, check out why you shouldn’t underestimate DrinkBox Studios latest and keep it tuned to Analog Addiction for the games review when it is released.