In a gaming world overstuffed with platformers, Drinkbox Studios’ Guacamelee! has managed to remain a standout since its release in 2013. From its colorful interpretation of Mexican folklore to its wonderful cast of eccentric characters to its polished platforming, fans of the genre have had plenty to sink their teeth into. Now, the developer has served up another dish with Guacamelee! 2, and it offers more to chew on than players might have anticipated.
The sequel’s creative lead, Augusto Quijano, spoke to us about several aspects of the game, including how the team decided on the direction of the story, what had to be cut from the final product, and what inspired the mean comments players will find in The Heart of Dankness. However, perhaps the most important question answered is how to get the perfect guacamole for ourselves.
EGM: How did you decide on the direction of the story? With Guacamelee! having two endings, how was it decided that the sequel would follow the timeline where Juan and El Presidente’s Daughter end up together?
Augusto Quijano: We asked ourselves the same question at the beginning: “Um, which ending is canon?” I remember Graham (one of the founders) saying something like, “Well, both are. We just made different timelines.” We also liked the idea of starting with Juan as semi-retired, not in luchador form and struggling to redefine himself.
EGM: There are even more game references in Guacamelee! 2, from the opening Symphony of the Night joke to the alternate timeline about loot boxes. How did you pick which ones to incorporate? They seem to be a mixture of contemporary and retro references.
Quijano: We just went with what felt funny and entertaining. If it made us laugh and got people on the team excited, we went for it. The first Guacamelee! was a love letter to Mexico and video games so I think it’s a big part of this universe’s charm.
EGM: Did Rom Di Prisco and Peter Chapman return to score the game? A few tracks from the first game, like Pueblucho are here again, but what about the new additions?
Quijano: Yes, they’re back! I was delighted to work with them again, and with Mariachi Entertainment System for the first time. Yeah Pueblucho, Juan’s hometown returns, but his adventure takes him into new locations (and new music) right away!
EGM: Guacamelee! 2 is much larger than the first game. Was the choice to expand a decision that came up naturally in development or was it a response to feedback about the first game’s length?
Quijano: It just happened organically. At first, we were aiming to have something around the same size as the original game, but there were more mechanics to introduce and the pacing seemed about right with where we ended up. We don’t like having filler in our games so we actually had to trim down the levels from their initially larger sizes to their current size.
EGM: Were any new moves or upgrades inspired by special moves from Metroid/Castlevania games?
Quijano: Nothing specifically. The closest thing would be the new Eagle Boost ability, which took partial inspiration from the Metroid Grapple Beam.
EGM: Were the new Pollo moves initially meant to serve the dual purpose of being platforming mechanics and attacks? Or were moves like Pollo Shot and Pollo Slide first made as platforming tools that evolved into attacks (or vice versa)?
Quijano: We started off wanting to make the chicken form be more mobile, adding some of Juan’s abilities like the wall jump, dodge, throws, etc. Once that felt good, we prototyped additional moves like the Pollo Shot and Pollo Slide and made sure that those new super abilities worked well for both combat and platforming.
EGM: In The Heart of Dankness, were the lines from the NPCs actual comments pulled from reviews, feedback, etc?
Quijano: Ha! This is one of our favorite secrets. Those comments were pulled from all over the place: Twitter, Facebook, NeoGAF, YouTube, comments on reviews of the original game. We read everything!
EGM: What were Salvador and his minions doing during the events of the first game?
Quijano: Muñeco was probably busy doing auditions for his chicken troupe. UayPek had started her research of the Sacred Relics… anything involving the end of time would catch her fancy. Cactuardo hadn’t yet been created, and I’d like to think Zope hadn’t had a falling out with the Illuminati yet. Salvador was likely about to complete his training in Isla Bonita.
EGM: What is the perfect guacamole recipe?
Quijano: Get GREAT avocados, firm but not too firm. Dice some white onion, not too fine, the onion adds texture. Add diced tomato, cilantro, lime, salt, pepper. Just that is good, but find your secret spice to add to it. Make it your own! A bit of jalapeño maybe? The Olmec Heads in the game will gladly give you some suggestions!
EGM: Any plans for DLC or add-on side missions, bosses, timelines, etc?
Quijano: No solid plans just yet, but with the launch behind us we have started having some early discussions about this.