guac_titleAlmost three years late, I’ve discovered this little gem of a game called Guacamelee. The nice thing about being late to the party though, is that the game is now available in an extended “super turbo championship” edition with additional levels and mechanics.

At the heart of it, Guacamelee is a “metroidvania”. You’re thrown into an open world with a limited set of moves/powers, and soon notice that plenty of areas are blocked or unreachable. Then, as you progress through the game, new powers unlock access to these previously unreachable areas, expanding the places you had already visited and opening up new ones. By the standards of that gaming genre, Guacamelee is rather linear, with obvious guidance as to where you should go next. It also is very generous with death, with save points littering the world, and platforming areas simply sending you back to your last platform in case of a terminal fall. Together, this makes it short-ish, as it took me around 10h of game time to finish it. That’s however without discovering all secrets (something the game handily allows you to do after you win), and in normal mode (hard mode gets unlocked after a normal win).

What sets the game apart however are two things. The first one is the combat. Your character is a wrestler, and you get to beat up the hordes of bad guys with a neat range of punches, kicks, grappling and throwing moves. The attack moves can also be chained up for surprisingly large combos, and a series of quests showcases the kind of sequences you can land on the opposition. Punching a skeleton into the air before grabbing it on the way down to pile-drive it to the ground never gets old. And you get to do it often as in addition to the open world monsters, you regularly get ‘trapped’ into arenas which you can only exit after having beating up all the foes. Where it gets better is that the combat moves you get to unlock through the game double up as movement skills, granting you additional vertical or horizontal range mid-air. This gets put to good use by the level design with many small platforming puzzles.

These piñatas are your reward after clearing an arena. I simply love the colours in this game...

These piñatas are your reward after clearing an arena. I simply love the colours in this game…

The other thing setting the game apart is its mexican-inspired theme. It is a silly magic-infused clichéed take over various bits of mexican culture, with a fair amount of gaming culture references to make it a rather unique setting. This makes for a nice change of atmosphere from medieval european clichés or generic medieval fantasy fare. If the story is a rather standard save the princess tale, the overall theme gives it that bit more life, and an atmosphere. You play as a luchador (hence the wrestling combat moves) across a lovely landscape in saturated warm colours. The art style is rather unique and goes very well with the game design: the welcoming warm colours go hand-in-hand with the generous respawn on death. The game is there to be enjoyed, not to frustrate or depress through a sinister dark atmosphere. A lovely soundtrack plays its part too.

Boss fights come up with full-screen match posters.

Boss fights come up with full-screen match posters.

And as if the game hadn’t caught me enough just yet, it pulled the food card with a side-quest that has you rounding up the ingredients for a world-record enchilada. As I ran around looking for that elusive perfect chili pepper, I could already feel that this was going to go beyond the realm of gaming. And so, at the weekend, I prepared some enchiladas for the family lunch. With no mexican cuisine knowledge and limited to easily sourced ingredients in Ireland, this has of course zero authenticity. The result was however exactly what I was after and the kids loved it which marks it as a household success. In order to mark the complete lack of authenticity and taking a leaf from a Guacamelee special power then, I’ll name these the Enchiladas Derp Derp.

Enchiladas Derp Derp

ench_4

Ingredients (makes 8 enchiladas):

– 8 wheat tortillas
– 400g chicken breast
– 200g mature cheddar, grated
– 400g red kidney beans
– 400ml passata (or 400g chopped tomatoes)
– 1 tomato or a handful cherry tomatoes
– 1 onion
– 3 garlic cloves
– 1 red pepper
– 1 small chili pepper

Preparation:
Chop the onion and start frying it in olive oil for about 5 minutes in olive oil. Remove the seeds from the pepper and chop it, as well as the garlic and chili, and add them to the onion. Chop the tomato and add it to the mix after the pepper has started to go soft (the tomato is only there for the texture, so you can skip it if you’re using a can of chopped tomatoes).

While the vegetable are cooking, chop the chicken into small bits and fry it in olive oil until it starts getting brown on all sides. About half-way through the chicken cooking, add the beans to the vegetable mix and fry for a few minutes before adding the passata, saving just a bit in a large bowl. Add a bit of water to the sauce if needed, and finally, add the chicken to the mix and season to taste.

ench_0ench_1

Add some water to dilute further the saved up passata and use a bit of it to coat the bottom of an over dish. Use the rest to colour up a bit and rehydrate the tortillas one at a time by dipping the tortilla into the diluted tomato then spreading it to the rest of the surface with your hands. This helps the tortillas to bake nicely rather than dry up into burnt wheat crisps.

Put the tortilla in the dish and fill up the middle with a helping of sauce and top up with grated cheese before rolling and pushing it to the side of the dish. Repeat until all enchiladas are rolled up and top them with a bit more cheese. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes at 200°C.

ench_2ench_3

Advertisements