2013’s Grand Theft Auto V probably pleased a lot of denizens from Los Angeles. The game’s huge open-world was filled with several locations and attractions that were inspired by its real-world counterparts from LA.
DrinkBox Studios, the brilliant developers behind the 2D-platforming/beat ’em up Guacamelee!, was inspired by Mexico’s architecture and famous locales. The upgraded version of the game, Guacamelee! Super Turbo Champion Edition!!!, threw in some extra content and a slew of other locations that were inspired by Mexico’s real-world locales.
Augusto Quijano, the game’s concept artist, gave us a behind-the-scenes look at all the places that Guacamelee! took its inspiration from. And make sure you make it all the way to the end because we’re giving away some download codes for the next-gen versions of the game.
For Camposanto we wanted a festive vibe for the Death World to contrast the destruction in the Living World, so I was looking at some town fairs I used to frequent as a kid in Merida and Progreso in the Yucatan. We added ‘Marquesitas’ stands, a kiosk with mariachi, marble and dart/balloon games. If you look closely you can see a “salsa valentina” in the marquesita stand in the game.
Xochimilco is a very unique borough of Mexico City. It even has species that only exist in those canals, like the Axolotl, which we included as an enemy. Since the original Guacamelee! I wanted to have a moment where Juan gets on one of those pontoon boats (trajineras) because for me that was a very particularly Mexican thing. So when thinking about the new areas I immediately thought about Xochimilco as a setting and was very happy to see that we managed to have a moving trajunera as an arena. Visually Xochimilco is amazing, very colorful and different so it fit right in the Guacamelee! world.
Mexico City is surrounded by mountains and volcanoes, and a lot of myths revolve around this areas. It was very fitting to have our own volcano in Guacamelee!’s Mexico too. It worked well with other ideas, like a town having been devastated by an eruption and also a secret liar for our new villain. We wanted to answer some questions regarding the “evil” skeletons so we came up with the idea of having a crazy skeleton army maker in a secret volcano facility.
During the level design stage we were having issues with the Forest level feeling too much like a maze. Players were getting lost, but we wanted to have a substantial amount of gameplay in it. Designer Chris McQuinn came up with the idea of having a “cenote” like area in the middle of the level to serve as a landmark and hallway of sorts. The beautiful thing about this solution was that we could use a very unique geographical idea that merged perfectly with the level in our world. Cenotes are underground rivers around the Yucatan Peninsula. You can swim in a lot of them in their turquoise water and see the cool tree roots descend into the caves.
El Presidente’s Mansion
For the mansion we looked at old Haciendas. It was important to get the timeless feel for them with the archway hallways and heavy vegetation. The gameplay had to be very straightforward, it’s just a floor basically, but the art really nails it there I think.