Wholesome skeleton-walloping action with Dad
Video games can have an effect on the way people think. I’ve seen this first-hand with my kid, who just turned four. He sees in a way that I don’t. Things I take for granted as harmless or meaningless can affect him for days, or even weeks. If he sees nothing but men in a few episodes of his favorite superhero shows (which happens more than I realized), he might start to talk about how women aren’t real superheroes. If he watches a show where a hero like Batman takes sadistic pleasure in hurting another person, he might talk about how sometimes it’s fun for the good guys to hurt people.
Thankfully, his mind is just as open to corrective suggestion as it is to corruptive influence. It only takes the viewing of a couple of Marvel Rising shorts to remind him that both men and women can be superheroes, and a couple of empathy expanding talks to remind him that hurting other people for the sake of it is never OK.
So far, the Guacamelee One-Two Punch Collection on Switch has been equally wholesome family fun. Both top-rated games feature clean, expressive artthat’s easy for a kid to try to copy, drop-in co-op featuring equally heroic men and women, and plenty of chicken-on-skeleton violence that has no real-world equivalents. Playing these games for 22 minutes a day with my son has offered all the pros of watching the old ’90s Batman cartoon with none of the need for “But it’s not actually OK to hit strangers in the face with boomerangs, son” post-show coaching.
We just picked up the game on Switch. Inspired by the relatively lengthyinstruction booklet and two-sided mini-poster, my kid wanted to head outside and make aGuacameleechalk drawing or two. Actually, we ran out of chalk pretty quickly, and had to make do with sticks, rocks, and pine cones for details, but I think we did fine.
The art in the instruction book has a clean-but-detailed accessibility to it that really sparks the imagination. There are plenty of character pages with corresponding bios, covering the contents of both games. The vision of those halo chickens with guitars tells a story all their own though. No words necessary.
There’s a ton to dig into here, including unused production art, a list of achievements, and even a picture of Dan Adelman’s dog. Dan used to work at Microsoft, then Nintendo, working with indies to get their games consoles. Now, through an unforeseen twist of fate involving a sizable betrayal and the loss of thousands of dollars, he’s publishing games at retail, and I think he’s doing a heck of a job of it.
There’s a look at the bulk of what’s included in the box: the instruction booklet, a double-sided “Where’s Juan?” posted, and codes for Guacamelee 1 + 2 DLC and digital soundtracks. My kid is going to grow up with these suckers and I know as he gets older he’ll be able to appreciate them on whole new levels. For now, both games are essentially interactive cartoons that are helping him learn to read, refine his hand-eye coordination, and let out his aggression on monsters as he pretends to be a chicken.
In fact, he actually gets super-mad whenever I stop being a chicken in the game. It’s all-chicken, all-the-time or he’s off to ask me to boot up Kero Blaster or Kirby instead. Maybe this will lead him to think that neither men or women are worth admiring, and that only the chickens, frogs, and pink cannibal orb-men deserve true power in this world. If so, I won’t be one to argue.