Guacamelee makes no attempt to mask its love for Super Metroid. The protagonist, a Mexican named Juan, has his own take on Samus’s wall jumps (although explained less elegantly than in Super Metroid) and his own take on the morph ball (Juan adorably transforms into a chicken). At one point, I destroyed a Chozo statue (it was referred to in the game as such), prompting an angry goat to turn into a dimension-shifting wizard and teach Juan how to travel between two dimensions with L2 and R2.
Okay, so maybe some things are different.
The key element that separates Guacamelee from its predecessor is the combat. Juan’s combat is mostly limited to square, but he can knock enemies into the air and juggle them, rolling around with the right analog stick to dodge attacks all the while. The circle button had a couple of special attacks mapped to it. An uppercut, performed with up and circle, which I thought made for a great launcher, and a belly-flop of sorts, which was a handy followup. These two abilities were also used in area traversal. The uppercut acted as a handy makeshift double-jump, and both were capable of breaking certain blocks that blocked progression.
When an enemy has been stunned, Juan can grab them with triangle and toss them in any direction (optimally at other enemies). Interestingly, these throws seem to disregard dimensions, so enemies tossed in one dimension can harm the silhouettes of enemies in the other.
Now that I’ve mentioned dimensions a few times, it seems appropriate to talk about the dimension-shifting mechanic. When Juan travels between dimensions, certain platforms and blocks materialize and disappear. This means that certain bits of platforming require you to be constantly shifting dimensions so you can progress. It was interesting to have to wall jump towards the outline of a block in one dimension, shift dimensions mid-jump to make the block appear, then jump from that block and shift dimensions to eliminate a wall that blocked my progress half a second before.
Combat would also utilize this mechanic, throwing multiple enemies at you in different dimensions. When you were outside of an enemy’s dimension, they’d appear as either a black or a white silhouette. You couldn’t hurt them, but they could hurt you, so combat became a constant dimension-switching balancing act.
The last boss, the aptly-named "Flame Face," was an exercise in dimension-switching. While he remained in one dimension (shooting his pistols at 45-degree angles), he called in minions in both dimensions. Every so often he would start pouring lava into the room, requiring me to switch into the other dimension in which it was just water. After dodging in and out of dimensions and punching Flame Face, my demo was over.
Guacamelee will be released for Playstation 3 and Vita.
Food for Thought:
The game’s writing is pretty funny. For instance, when I first met Flame Face, he shot the ground repeatedly to show off…but couldn’t fight me because he wasted all of his ammo on the ground.