PAX East Roundup 1: Guacamelee and DiveKick
PAX East 2013 was just about as busy and crazy fun as I had expected going into it. I got to see a ton of upcoming games, some of which were even for the PlayStation Network (imagine that!). I’m breaking my roundup posts into three posts with two games featured in each one; I want to give these promising titles enough room to blossom. Plus, I’ve got an e-satchel full of assets for them that you might not have seen anywhere else. But wait, there’s more! Well, not much more, really, except for the games. Shall I proceed? (Yes, indeed!)
If you’ve visited PSNStores.com or listened to our podcast, you know that we’re all hyped for Guacamelee. If you’re new to the game, allow me to break you off with a quick rundown.
Guacamelee is a game from Toronto indie developers Drinkbox Studios. Their previous outings on the PSN – Tales from Space: About a Blob and Mutant Blobs Attack – have proven their merit to the maximum. Guacamelee manages to mix up the mold a bit while still retaining certain elements that Drinkbox does well. By mix up the mold I mean this is a game about a wannabe-Luchadore named Juan who is risen from his grave by a magical mask. And the elements that Drinkbox does well? Those would include platforming, stylish art, and pure fun.
So what about Guacamelee did I see that was new? For starters, I experienced a revamped combat system. What was once a shallow button-mashing ordeal is now more tactical and deep. During arena fighting sessions, some enemies spawn with different barriers that need to be broken before the enemy can take damage. The barriers are color coded and different moves break different barriers. For instance, enemies with a purple barrier around them need to get hit by a ground-pound move before they can incur any further damage. You can also phase in and out of the dead world. Some enemies will spawn in a different dimension, requiring you to switch, beat ’em up, then switch back to dispose of anything else on screen. The combination of these seemingly simple combat mechanics makes all the difference in making either a fun or boring game. I don’t want to spoil too much about the platforming, but just know that Drinkbox has knocked it out of the park. Phase-shifting, uppercutting, wall jumping, air dodging, double jumping… Guacamelee will challenge even the most seasoned platform masters (I’m referring to myself, who was definitely challenged at certain points).
I played the game for over a half hour and I can say with complete honesty that this is a game that you should own on your PS3 and/or Vita. Luckily, it’s coming out April 9th for $9.99 #YOPO. Game of PAX? Si.
DiveKick is a fighting game with only two button inputs and one hit per round. It was also one of the most talked-about titles at PAX East this year. I played over a half hour of it behind closed doors and had a ton of fun the entire time. The game should release sometime over the summer, before EVO hopefully, at a price point that’s “probably less than $15” according to Dave Lang (the crazy guy in the launch trailer).
At the moment, the game contains six characters: Redacted, a cigar-smoking skunk-bear; Mr. N, a chubby, self-loathing e-sports fanatic; Dive, the equivalent of Ryu; Kick, the equivalent of Ken; Dr. Shoals, a doctor with a double kick; and Kung Pao, who, despite wearing a wide-brimmed hat, bears absolutely NO RESEMBLANCE TO KUNG LAO… There will be more at release time, but for a game that has only two buttons – jump, and kick – the characters play remarkably different. Each character also has at least one special move that can be activated by pressing both buttons at once either on the ground or in mid-air. The game is drenched in humor, from its loading screen tips (“I’m a computer, stop all the downloading”, “You can make any bag of chips breakfastchips by simply eating them for breakfast. #breakfastchips”) to the over-the-top announcer. Even though each round is a one-hit KO, there’s a random chance that you’ll get a PERFECT for no other reason than it’s pretty funny to have that in the game.
What you really need to know about DiveKick is that it strips down all of the complex fighting-game mechanics you may be used to into a simple yet incredibly deep and exciting kickfest. Did I mention the local competitive mode on Vita? Oh, well maybe you should check out Nick’s hands-on post, because he’ll show you how well that works! I think I’m finally ready to climb out of the cave that Marvel vs. Capcom 3 sent me running into (don’t get me wrong, it’s a great game, but unless you’ve got ~100 hours to dedicate to learning combos, you’re going to get served repeatedly and without remorse).