We sat down with DrinkBox Studios to discuss what this Director's Cut version of Guacamelee has on offer.
During the Game Developers Conference 2014, we had a chat with animator Augusto Quijano and co-founders Chris Harvey and Ryan MacLean from DrinkBox Studios. We discussed the recently announced Super Turbo Champion Edition of Guacamelee, which will be coming to the Wii U eShop at an undisclosed date. We also discussed the challenges of bringing the game to the platform, the possibility of Guacamelee coming to the Nintendo 3DS and much more.
Nintendo World Report (NWR): Is Super Turbo Champion Edition structured mostly like the original Guacamelee? Are there things that are interspersed in, or how does it differ?
Augusto Quijano (AQ): Yeah, it’s kind of woven into the main game. These new areas are integrated into the flow of the game. We didn’t want to have a separate section where you get the new content. It was meant to be part of the story.
Chris Harvey (CH): So the sort of places in the original game where some powers are gotten a little too close together, closer together than what we wanted, and we were able to put some of these areas back in.
NWR: So it’s like a Director’s Cut-type release?
NWR: Can you tell me of any sorts of Wii U-exclusive features?
CH: The game is the same, but we've been using the Wii U Pad as map, or you can swap and play exclusively on the GamePad.
NWR: Okay, cool. Have you guys started developing on the Wii U, yet?
CH: Yeah, actually the game’s been working for awhile and also, we’re working with Broken Rules; they’re helping us put it through lot check because it’s a lot of versions to come out at once. So yeah, they’re helping us with that.
NWR: Right, I remember talking with them when they were going through some of their lot checks. It takes a while.
CH: (Laughs) Yeah, they’re really nice guys; they’re incredibly nice guys, actually.
NWR: How did you guys end up collaborating?
Ryan MacLean (RM): We shared a booth with them at PAX, like 2 years ago or 3 years ago.
CH: No, like 4, 5 years ago. 2009, I thought it was.
RM: When we first started showing Tales from Space: About a Blob.
CH: We were right beside them and they were showing And Yet It Moves. I think at one point, they were sort of saying, “Oh, we’re between projects, so if anybody needs help, or something with Wii U.” And like a year later we followed up with them, and we’re like, “Do you want to do it?!”
NWR: Yeah, awesome. So how did you decide you wanted to put it out on Wii U?
CH: The decision process is multi-pronged. Okay, there’s business case: Can you make money doing this? And then there’s like the--I would call it passion case which is, to put a game out on a Nintendo console is sort of a big, kind of professional goal, right? And we got a Wii U dev kit awhile ago, and so first we had to get it working, so then I just kept working on it on the side, on the side, on the side, on the side, until finally it was going. And then it was like, “Oh, well it’s already working, so we should definitely put it out, right?” (Laughs)
NWR: So in that case, had Nintendo contacted you directly or had you contacted them initially?
CH: We contacted them. We’ve talked to them about various projects at various times. We’ve gone back and forth a bit about it, but I think that the key thing is we talked to them saying, “Well, we’re thinking of bringing one of our titles there, and we’ve got a dev kit.” But no, they didn’t directly approach us about it. It was more us approaching them.
NWR: Cool. Were there other titles you were considering too, or was this this pretty much it?
CH: I think right now this is pretty much it.
NWR: Are you considering a Nintendo 3DS edition as well?
CH: I would really like to do that.
RM: We have our hands full with the four platforms we’re doing already. Plus we have other stuff we’re working on internally, and we’re just a small studio. But, you never know what can happen in the future.
CH: Yeah, I would really like to do that. Once those go out, we can look into it.
NWR: See how the sales do and everything too, I guess. So the game contains a blend of genres. You’ve got beat-’em-up, platforming, Metroidvania-style--What was the most difficult part in taking all the genres and putting it into a cohesive game?
CH: I think because it is a brawler/beat-’em-up, but there aren’t a lot of purely side-scrolling brawlers; usually you’ve got the fake 3D. So I think that kind of blending of the side-scrolling/platforming with the brawling was one of the things that we were most concerned might not work.
AQ: We didn’t know if they were going to mix or not, with how much platforming versus how much brawling, but it seemed to work.
CH: It seems to work, yeah.
NWR: I guess the one other game that tried to do this that comes to mind is the last Smash Bros. game.
CH: I do have to say that the Smash Bros., I think it’s the GameCube version, has the adventure mode where you use the guys and you use their moves also with some of the platforming.
NWR: Yeah, the Wii version does some of that, they’ve got a whole separate mode.
CH: Yeah, so that was a partial inspiration when we were originally coming up for the concept for the aspect of the game where you’re using the combat moves and also platforming at the same time.
NWR: Cool. Well obviously, another inspiration is lucha libre. Why do you think it’s become so popular in the U.S.?
AQ: (Laughs) It’s just awesome, I don’t know. Who doesn’t like--it’s crazy because it’s just like really mystic heroes, right? But they’re just in this ridiculous attire, like always wearing masks. There’s something there that is appealing.
CH: It feels like outside of Mexico, it’s sort of like tongue-in-cheek--kind of ironic. Also, I think Nacho Libre helped make luchas cooler. In Mexico, it’s way more serious.
AQ: Yeah, they wear the masks all the time like that’s their identity, like Spiderman. Yeah, serious sports, like you go and see the show, but the show is less soap opera; it’s more the acrobat side of it. So, I don’t know, it’s just a combination of folklore and entertainment.
RM: I feel like the big reason we did this game came from Augusto, is like the initial idea for it, and separate from the luchadora is just a lot of the Mexican--
AQ: I should say I’m from Mexico. (Laughs)
RM: So I don’t think we would have made a game like this without having the idea come from Augusto.
AQ: And the idea’s just more than the lucha libre, it’s general folklore part of Mexico--the festive part of Mexico, like the desert with gunslingers side of Mexico--so I think it was a combination of those things that formed the style.
NWR: How has it been received in Mexico?
AQ: Oh, really, really, really well. People really like it because they normally don’t see inside jokes or a Mexican protagonist. Everybody in Guacamelee! is Mexican. How many games do you have that are like that?
CH: When we first started showing it to press I remember some Latin American press came and I was like, “Uhhh,” but they were uniformly positive; I was happy to see that. Because I was a little worried. You know, it’s not offensive, but they were extremely positive.
AQ: Yeah, you don’t get to see it, so it’s great when you see it like, “Oh somebody’s doing Latin American culture in a way that a Latin American sees it.” So it’s not like a superficial, third person point of view. Some of the things were from experiences and growing up and a lot of research.
NWR: And what do you think makes the Wii U attractive to indie devs? There’s a lot of other indies and Nintendo’s put a big focus on it at GDC. So for you guys, what do you see about it that’s attractive?
CH: Well, first of all, just on the practical side, Nintendo has become a lot more open in letting games onto their platform, so that immediately makes it attractive. If we can get there, it’s attractive. I think, just also as a dev, not specifically an indie dev -- you know, the Wii U is obviously struggling a bit, but having grown up with Nintendo games, it has that cachet. I would really like to get games on there and be able to say that when I am 65, “Yeah, we put out some games on Nintendo.”
NWR: Awesome. Well thank you guys.
CH: Yeah, thanks a lot.