Beer and Games: Mexican Cake and Guacamelee!

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So the deal here is I waste way too much time playing video games and way too much money buying and trading beers. At least, that is what my girlfriend and family say.  I personally think I spend too little time playing games and only a third or so of my paycheck goes to beer purchases, so if anything there is more room to spend.

bottles

Part of my bottle collection.  I think I’ve lost it. That’s only like $250+ of beer….
Also a George Foreman Grill. 

And I’m sick of people writing snotty beer reviews while pairing it with artisanal/craft/free-range/bullshit/etc foods.  So instead of beer and food pairings, I’m going to do beer and game pairings, because why not.

So the first week’s pairing is DrinkBox Studios Guacamelee! with Westbrook‘s Mexican Cake. You see what I did there? Both Mexican-y items, I guess. Yeah, don’t get used to that. I’m guessing this will be the one and only time my pairing actually makes any logical sense whatsoever. You’re welcome.

And no, that exclamation point in Guacamelee! isn’t my enthusiasm for this piece but is an official part of the title.  And because I’m writing this in Microsoft Word, I get the luxury of getting green squiggly underlines every single time I type Guacamelee! on the page. Not to mention the fact that it auto-capitalizes the word directly following Guacamelee! thinking it is the first word of a new sentence. So, I have to go back and delete the first character and then I have to right click on each word following Guacamelee! and remove the green squiggly due to my OCD. And because it is a grammar error and not a spelling error, there is no option to “ignore all”. So every time I write Guacamelee!, I have to spend an extra 10 seconds or so editing. And my journalistic integrity insists I give the proper name every time it is mentioned (who are we kidding; I just want an excuse to rant). Off to a great start Guacamelee! No one wastes my precious time except for myself. Nobody.

So first the beer. It is a chocolate-vanilla-cinnamon-y imperial stout with the gimmick being habanero peppers are added. So basically a copy of Cigar City’s famous Hunahpu but with habaneros instead of chilies. Even though it is with habaneros, I think the heat is a little less intense than Hunahpu. This is going from memory of what Hunahpu tasted like though, which I only had at Hunahpu day and only after I had tasted 20+ high gravity beers, so take my opinion with a grain of salt (you’d be best off doing that for all my opinions while you are at it…).

mexcakeAhhh yeah.

Don’t get me wrong though, this beer still is packed with flavor. It is just that Hunahpu is an extreme beer, so comparing most beers to that isn’t really fair. I am definitely getting a lot of cinnamon, but that could just be me mis-interpreting the spiciness of the beer. Chocolate is a little subdued, but I prefer that. I’ve had trouble with chocolate stouts ever since I had Southern Tier’s Choklat. Shit was just a melted Hershey’s bar with booze. I prefer my stouts to be more coffee than chocolate, but the balance in this beer is definitely well done. I’m a fan.

Alright so about Guacamelee! Note that I am going to do this “review” chronologically as I play and drink. So first impressions: pretty cool looking. Looks like a 2D version of that Disney movie Emperor’s New Groove. I guess that movie was already in 2D, but you know what I mean, I hope. I can tell right off the bat that story really isn’t the thing here. It’s your typical stuff for a platformer, city gets burned down, some chick gets stolen by a couple bad guys and you are a mute wannabe who gets special powers from a mask. Except this time it’s in Mexico! Basically that means there are chickens everywhere and people yell at you a lot.

But like I was saying, the story isn’t key here. This is a definite throwback to old school gaming and it is a blatant Metroid-vania game. If you don’t know what that means, I can’t help you. All help is lost for you in the realm of gaming. Get it together man. Seriously.

A few hours in: so far it seems pretty balanced. A lot of times I get pissed at metroid-vania games because I’m not going to lie, I get stuck and I don’t have time for that shit. Luckily I haven’t had that problem yet. Maybe a couple minutes here or there but nothing major that has wasted a lot of time. As the beer is warming up I’m getting more heat from the habanero. It’s not spicy in the sense of “shit my tongue is burning,” but I definitely get strong flavor from the peppers. Or my head is playing tricks on me because of this crazy Mexican music that is looping. I feel like if I wasn’t a half a beer in I’d be annoyed by the music, but I’m digging it. It’s fun and a little goofy.

gusta guacamelee.Oh look its that gusta face meme people on the internet think is funny. Cool I guess….

Don’t worry though guys. I know you were really scared, but luckily Guacamelee! has a “sorry but the princess is another castle” reference. Seriously though, does every  indie game have to make some kind of reference to other video games and/or video game culture? It’s like they throw it in there so some idiot at home can be like “Oh, look a Castle Crashers reference, I played that. This developer obviously has street cred in our scene. +2 points”. Get over yourself man.

Castle Crashers in Guacamelee!Oh get it, its from that one game but Mexican-ized…

Oh man, nevermind. Sorry for bashing. I just got a new power up and which grants you the ability to morph into a chicken at will. 10/10 must play. Best chicken sim I’ve played in years. Yeah buddy. I don’t know if I’m being sarcastic or not either. Don’t worry.

We also get the classic black-white/dark-light/evil-good/etc-etc platformer gimmick where you can switch between worlds to reveal different platforms or to fight enemies that can only take damage in a certain world. I wouldn’t care much except for the fact that two years ago a game called Outland came out which is also a metroid-vania game and features the system heavily, and it already stole the world switching ability from the shooter Ikaruga. I am starting to get worried that Guacamelee! doesn’t do anything new and is stuck in its genre a little too much. Minus the chicken morphing. Shit is pretty sweet.

I guess this isn’t as much a Mexican pairing as a pairing of two items who both try to emulate pre-existing material. You see what I did there, damn I’m good.  Luckily Mexican Cake seems to diversify itself a little more than Guacamelee! does. I just poured the second half from the fridge and it’s definitely less spicy when cold. Probably something to do with the coolness masquerading the heat in my throat. Once again it isn’t as spicy as something like Habanero Sculpin from Ballasit point, or dare I say Ghost Face Killah from Twisted Pine (ughhh), but there is definitely some heat. Even without the extra heat, this stout stands on its own and is full of flavor.

Mexican CakeThe last bit of the sweet nectar. Good night.

I’m about 6 hours in now and Guacamelee! is definitely getting harder. I would blame it on the added alcohol affect, but there is no way. I swear the difficulty ramp is steep as hell. I’m not gonna lie to my readers, I’ve had to look up solutions to some of the puzzles. When you add in multiple power ups with portals that are only usable in certain worlds, well my inebriated brain is not a fan.

With the added difficulty though, I must say this game does a really good job of combining all the new powers Juan learns. Oh yeah, the main character’s name is Juan. I know you are surprised. And somehow they nail the control system where I can easily remember which combination of buttons does what. I must say now that more powers have been added and more enemies are starting to get thrown in, the combat really is quite solid and actually pretty fun. Not one ability that has been added has been put on the backburner and I actually use all of them in combat, which is pretty rare considering my typical play style from brawlers of figuring out one good combo and exploiting it. I’m a jackass.

The last 2 bosses you face just reiterate the difficulty spike. Holy shit. Each one took me 15-20 minutes. I’ll give the game credit, those bosses are fair and you learn how to beat them along the way (the way being dying a bunch…). But they still pissed me off.

And that is it. I think it tallied between 6-7 hours for the full game. Mexican Cake > Guacamelee!, but both are pretty solid. Guacamelee! is a solid platformer/brawler and is definitely well thought out by the developers. It is a great example of thoughtful level and game design. But at the end of the day, it doesn’t do much new. Like I previously mentioned, Outland did the same stuff a couple years back. All Guacamelee! really adds is a new graphics style and some mediocre humor. But once again it really does a good job of perfecting game design.

guacamelee end screen.Proof of success. Step your game up ~ Marcus PSP RIP

Plus I’ll give them credit for being a cross-buy game. Meaning you buy the game once and get digital copies for both Vita and PS3. So for all four of you out there that own a Vita, I guess that is a plus. The game only comes in at 7 hours or so though, so I don’t know how much of a use that cross-buy will have. But I still give them props.

But yeah, Mexican Cake is a definite buy. It is a very complex stout that can definitely stand next to Hunahpu. I don’t think it is as good as Hunahpu, but considering Huna is a one-day release at Cigar City (meaning you can only get it if you are there, know somebody, or can trade for it), Mexican Cake is a pretty solid substitute that may be easier for you to get if in the South Carolina area. It’s still not easy to get and is only released once a year or so, but if you do see it definitely grab a bottle. They just released barrel-aged versions also, but unfortunately these were only available at the brewery for one day and that’s it.  So good luck getting some of those. I wish I could try some. It is already a very flavorful beer so I can only imagine what a barrel would do to it.

Mexican Cake:  9.0/10

Guacamelee!: 7.5/10

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Author: Chris Fadeley View all posts by
I am UF alumni and a computer engineer. I know virtually every useless fact about videogames ever. I like computers and potatoes.

3 Comments on "Beer and Games: Mexican Cake and Guacamelee!"

  1. Patrick Haynes July 16, 2013 at 10:21 pm - Reply

    STOUT

  2. Christopher Fadeley July 17, 2013 at 3:06 am - Reply

    cheers

  3. David Roa July 17, 2013 at 3:15 pm - Reply

    This is one of the best written reviews I’ve read in a long time. Can’t wait for the next one!

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