News Article

Interview: DrinkBox Studios On Bringing Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition to Wii U

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

We learn about what's new and the inspiration for that title

The Wii U eShop is rapidly becoming a go-to store for keen Wii U gamers, with an improving library of diverse titles. One that's evidently not far away, based on the "coming soon" comment of its developers during a Nintendo Treehouse E3 appearance, is Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition. As the name makes clear this is an expanded, improved version of a title that developer DrinkBox Studios previously released on platforms such as the PS3 and Vita.

The inclusion of the Wii U, alongside PS4 and Xbox One, is undoubtedly welcome, and represents the company's first foray onto Nintendo hardware. A bright, colourful, humorous beat-em-up action platformer, it can certainly be argued that the Nintendo audience could be one of the most receptive to the title's charms, too.

Keen to learn more ahead of its release, we caught up with the title's level designer Jason Canam to learn more about what's new in this version, what Wii U players can look forward to and, of course, the origins of that title.


First of all, can you introduce yourself and DrinkBox Studios to our readers?

I'm Jason Canam, Level Designer on Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition, I designed and built the game's new levels.

DrinkBox Studios in an independent game development studio in Toronto, Canada.

Are there any particular sources of inspiration for the art style and setting?

The inspiration for the setting in Guacamelee! really was put forward by our animator, Augusto. He’s originally from Mexico and showed the studio the vibrant colourful world he grew up with. After seeing the huge amount of great material it was a no brainer for the studio to embrace the Mexican-luchador-world.

Is this a title that you consider to be a relatively simple beat-em-up platformer, or do you feel it incorporates enough depth, combos and unlockables for skilled players?

Guacamelee! is a combat-focused action platformer, but it is also a non-linear character development based progression game, more simply known as a "Metroidvania" game. One of the key game design elements of Guacamelee! is that the combat moves that the player learns also function as traversal abilities. When the player learns the Rooster Uppercut, for example, they obtain a valuable combat ability, but they have also obtained an ability that allows them to reach higher ledges and platforms. This gives the player access to new areas they couldn't explore previously. This means the player has to think of multiple uses for each ability they learn.

As far as the game's combat is concerned, the combat is designed to be as simple as possible with as few inputs required as possible. To perform a special move, you just have to tilt the left stick in a direction (Up, Down, Left, Right) and press the A button. It's that simple. This means that most players should be able to perform special moves simply and when they want to without having to memorize complicated inputs. But, for more advanced players, there are advanced techniques like dodge-cancelling that can expand their combat (and movement!) possibilities exponentially. There's a lot of freedom and expressiveness to the game's combat.

Three new areas have been added to the game. One of them was previously available in some versions of the game as optional DLC, but two of the new areas are brand new and HUGE!

Can you outline some of the key differences between this version and the original?

The biggest difference is the game world. Three new areas have been added to the game. One of them was previously available in some versions of the game as optional DLC, but two of the new areas are brand new and HUGE! These two brand new areas are incorporated into the existing game world, so they are part of the progression and each features more secrets than any other part of the game.

There are also new enemies to fight and new abilities to use. The most important new ability is INTENSO. INTENSO allows players to supercharge themselves and amplify their speed and strength for a limited period of time. This ability can be used to help players get through tough sections, but can also be used by advanced players at just the right times to improve their speedruns. It's a tool that's useful for players of all skill levels.

There is also a new villain character with his own backstory and motivations and players will see how this character fits into Calaca's plans.

Aside from just new content, some of the game's mechanics have been tuned and tweaked slightly to make things flow easier and for combat to feel more smooth. These changes are very subtle, but we think they make the game easier to play and hopefully more enjoyable.

A lot of work went into making Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition the definitive version of the Guacamelee!.

That name's inspired by Street Fighter II, right?

Haha! Not at first, actually. It began as just a burst of enthusiasm and exuberance. When discussing what the title of this new and improved version should be, I said in the meeting: "It should be like Guacamelee! Mega, Excellent, Superb, Awesome, Amazing, Impressive, Spectacular, Turbo Edition!"

At what stage did you decide to bring this title to Wii U?

Pretty early on. We were slowly working on a Wii U port of the game engine as a side-project around the time we finished the original Guacamelee. That work progressed in the background, and around early summer we had things playable. Once we decided to make STCE we were pretty sure we'd release it on Wii U.

Can you tell us about any challenges or surprises in producing this title for Wii U alongside PS4 and Xbox One?

Maintaining, testing, and releasing the game on four different platforms at once has been really challenging organizationally. The various consoles have different capabilities, different rules you have to follow, and they all require their own special attention. Each platform holder — Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft — has their own way of doing things, so there were a ton of things to keep track of.

Once we had the game sort of running we worked with Broken Rules, who released Chasing Aurora on the Wii U, to finish it. Given the scope of the work, I don't think we would have been able to ship the WiiU version without their help.

Most of the Wii U-specific work had to do with making sure we were using the second screen in a useful way.

Do you use a bespoke development engine, or something like Unity?

We have proprietary in-house developed tool that we use to build the game. It's really versatile and has allowed us to develop for multiple platforms, which is why we're able to bring the game to as many platforms as we can.

Are there any features on the Wii U that are different from the other platforms?

The main difference in the Wii U version is use of the second screen. You can play the game on the second screen, or you can show the map. With the map turned on you can see a level's fog of war uncover as you run around, and it's generally a bit faster to check where you're going. Naturally, you can also touch the second screen to to scroll the map.

How have you found the development process for Wii U, in terms of working with the hardware on a technical level?

Actually, it was like a mix of different platforms we've worked on — a bit of PC, a bit of PS3/X360, and a bit of next gen. So really nothing too surprising on the hardware-side. Most of the Wii U-specific work had to do with making sure we were using the second screen in a useful way.

What are your thoughts on the Wii U eShop platform?

The content on the eShop is good, and is getting better all the time. I recently purchased Aban Hawkins & the 1001 Spikes on the eShop and have been playing that on my Wii U, and I am just dying with anticipation for Shovel Knight! Both NES Remix games are really great, and are also something completely unexpected, which is cool. I'm a big fan of downloadable games, and have been getting a good selection from the eShop. (And don't even get me started on how much I love Virtual Console!)

Do you plan to be active on Miiverse once the game launches?

I'm definitely looking forward to checking in on the Miiverse once the game launches!!!

As the Level Designer, it's really important for me to see how players are feeling about the levels. Seeing where they get stuck, seeing which secrets they found the most difficult, which bosses were too hard/too easy. All of that is super fascinating to me, and very important to me as I continue to create new game worlds.

The absolute best for me will be seeing Guacamelee! STCE's Miiverse become a great place for players to share speedrun techniques! That would make my day!

Are you personally pleased with the lineup of games (retail and download) for Wii U, and do you think it'll boost sales?

There's been a lot of recent announcements that make the future of the Wii U look very promising, which makes me very optimistic. This year has a lot of titles that I'm looking forward to, including Bayonetta 2, Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker and of course, Smash Bros for Wii U! I think we'll see the sales of the Wii U continue to grow, especially at the end of this year and into 2015. I think it's always the same story for every console: it always comes down to the games.

Do you have a final message for our readers?

I hope everyone who plays Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition enjoys it and good luck getting 101%! Luckily, having the area maps on the Wii U Gamepad helps a lot!


We'd like to thank Jason Canam for his time.

More Stories

Game Screenshots

User Comments (58)

Luna-Harmony

#5

Luna-Harmony said:

All i can say is get this game it's amazing i clocked it 100% on ps3.
You can;t stop playing this game it's so good but your middle r2 finger hurts like heck after i got bad playstation finger from playing this game it's that good.

Shambo

#7

Shambo said:

Held it off on PS3 since I believed this was a game to be played on a Nintendo system. So I can't wait!

Cresartist

#10

Cresartist said:

Since a game like this is a Metroidvania game, maps can be pretty big. I like the inclusion of a map screen on the gamepad.

Peach64

#13

Peach64 said:

I really hope the Wii U owners by this one. In my opinion it's way better than anything currently on the eShop, and if this does well, we might actually see the top tier indies putting their games on Wii U.

Evenmoresteven

#14

Evenmoresteven said:

I'm definitely getting this day one. More games like this, Child of Light, Shovel Knight, Scram Kitty, Pushmo World, they all help fill in the gaps between all the AAA releases.

ZenMasterGabe

#16

ZenMasterGabe said:

I guess I'll pick this one for the Gamepad features, as I think the Xbox One version will be identical technically speaking...

unrandomsam

#17

unrandomsam said:

Its not diverse it has loads of Metroidvania's but zero offerings in most of the possible genres.

MajinSoul

#18

MajinSoul said:

"The various consoles have different capabilities, different rules you have to follow, and they all require their own special attention." A lot of thruth in this one.

I'll also buy it on Wii U. I was interested in this game for quite a while now. I was on the fence of buying it on PS Vita for quite a while, but I'll definetly buy the Wii U version.

Dr_Corndog

#23

Dr_Corndog said:

Excellent game. The Steam version lets me play as Johnny Bravo via the Steam Workshop. That's 10/10-worthy right there.

Anguspuss

#28

Anguspuss said:

strange for a dead console with no 3rd party support there seems to be a lot of smaller developers & indies willing to not make a profit on wii u.

Maybee its a charity thing. Or could be they arent bringing shovel ware. (yes there still is some on e shop I know)

rjejr

#30

rjejr said:

Was planing on getting this on PS3 hut never happened, glad I waited. And I know most people don't care, but Im a huge fan of maps on the Gamepad.

Cant say day 1 until I get a date, Swords n Soldiers 2 is day 1 as are several risc games. But it will happen.

aaronsullivan

#33

aaronsullivan said:

I also had my eye on this maybe for PS3 ever since I discovered it was metroidvania-style. Anyone know if the content is appropriate for kids?

dumedum

#36

dumedum said:

Sounds like the Wii U is the definitive version, which is to be expected.
Nice.

Daisaku36

#37

Daisaku36 said:

I'll double dip on this game, I don't think it's better than every eShop game currently available, though.

SamSan37

#38

SamSan37 said:

This game is so good! I bought it last year for my Vita and it made my short list of GOTY alongside SMT 4 and Steamworld dig. I got stuck on a dragon boss and stopped playing so I look forward to finishing this game on Wii U when I get my hands on the system. But seriously buy the game!

MagicEmperor

#41

MagicEmperor said:

My brother has this on his PS3, and I played it when we hung out. It's a very fun game, with hilarious references and 'cameos' that are borderline plagiarism with how close they are to the source. Great stuff. And because this has DLC plus all-new features I will definitely buy this version for my own Wii U. Done deal.

lividd3ad

#42

lividd3ad said:

I feel like this suffers from the same problem as releases such as Giana Sisters and Scribblenauts Unlimited - it's been around for too long on PC for it to feel financially viable to buy the Wii U edition. I'm certainly tempted by the PC edition right now, seeing as it's a measly £1.24 in a flash sale right now.

@FalconPunch Since when is gog.com illegal?

chiptoon

#43

chiptoon said:

Its an absolutely fantastic game, but I played the hell out of it on Vita, and can't picture working through it again.

Waaaay too late to the party.

Rafie

#45

Rafie said:

I got this game on the PS3 and it's AWESOME! I'm getting it on PS4 though. You know...trophies! :) I know...I know trophies ain't everything, but I really like them.

aaronsullivan

#48

aaronsullivan said:

Thanks, @LinkIRule .
Looking forward to this one and if my kiddos can watch/play we can maybe get to the end of it.
@Rafie Don't do it! Nintendo needs you more than you need those trophies! ;D

Nin98

#49

Nin98 said:

@Shambo when it came out on the other consoles, I was mad it skipped thw wii u, but now i cant wait for it to come. very glad they went with the mexican style, this mexican will love this game.

krisko

#50

krisko said:

I bought it on PC before it was ever announced for the U, but I MAY consider a double dip if they're adding new areas. It's not often that the Wii U gets a "buzzy" indie like this.

KryptoKrunch

#54

KryptoKrunch said:

Was going to get this on Vita shortly after it came out but I'm glad I held off for the turbo edition on Wii U.

readyletsgo

#56

readyletsgo said:

I got this wit ps+ a few months back, played it and didn't go back to it, think it's because I got it for free. I find that happens a lot with the hundreds of free ps+ games for me sadly.

I might get the WiiU version, give it the ultimate shot.

AyeHaley

#57

AyeHaley said:

I hope we'll get it within a month or so, I am so looking forward to playing this!

Leave A Comment

Hold on there, you need to login to post a comment...