Secret Ponchos is the first game from Vancouver-based indie studio, Switchblade Monkeys. The game is a competitive twin-stick arena shooter with a spaghetti-western theme. Players are placed in small arena-based combat against other live opponents in hopes of earning bounty, allowing them to level up and gain notoriety.
From the outset, players are asked to pick from multiple character archetypes based on western iconography, each with their own handling and abilities. From there, they can further augment their character with increased health, stamina, firing rate, etc. These characters can be further leveled up and made stronger as the player's bounty increases from successfully defeating opponents. However, as the player's notoriety increases, as does the money opponents can earn for defeating them.
Company founder and project lead Yousuf Mapara credited the game's inspiration to nights of endlessly playing Soul Calibur IV with sound designer and composer Chris Gillie. Eventually, the two turned off the game's soundtrack and began playing their own music, usually gravitating towards spaghetti western themes and soundtracks. This ultimately helped generate the idea to pursue a game that had a fighting game quality, mixed with the tense shootouts of spaghetti western films.
Having previously worked together on a previously cancelled title, Mapara recruited fellow artist and friend José López to help define the look of the game's cast, along with other artists/programmers that Yousuf had worked and studied with in the past. As the small team brain-stormed ideas for the game and its art, they used a private blog to share their thoughts/progress. The blog's name, Secret Ponchos, eventually stuck and became the game's title.
Secret Ponchos was first made public at Comic-Con in 2012, aiming to arrive digitally on the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3, with the potential of a PC release as well. The game first became publicly playable at PAX East 2013. It was here that Sony representatives took notice to how attendees were playing and responding to the game. They eventually approached the developer and proposed that the game appear on the PS4. Mapara accepted, thus making the game a PS4-exclusive.
At E3 2013, Yousuf Mapara appeared on-stage at Sony's press conference, briefly demoing the game alongside Transistor, Octodad: Dadliest Catch, among others. Here, Sony announced that the game would be made free to all Playstation Plus subscribers once it was released.
Eventually, due to numerous requests from the gaming community, Switchblade Monkeys announced that, in addition to being a PS4 console exclusive, the game would also be made available on Steam.
Steam Early Access & PS4 Release
While the game continues to be in Early Access on Steam as of January 1st 2015, it was officially released on PlayStation 4 on December 2nd, 2014 as part of the PlayStation Plus program.
Switchblade Monkeys has promised to continue to support the game after release with additional DLC characters (at least two, based on the question mark portraits in the game), costumes and stages.