Ever since my early days of gaming I've been playing 2D games like Metroid and the early Oddworld titles, so I tend to have a soft spot when I see a new platformer show up. Especially one with as much character as Drinkbox Studio's Guacamelee. Oh, did I mention you can transform into a chicken at will?
This game's art style was the first thing to really grab my attention. It feels like a mix between the vibe of Disney's The Emperor's New Groove mixed with the fluidity and animation of Rayman Origins.
In a genre where attacks are mostly a button mashing or head-jumping affair, Guacamelee feels pretty fresh while doing very little. The main attack I used in the demo was a grapple move; after one or two punches, a triangle button appears and you have the option to throw the enemy in any direction you please. At one point I remember using a skeleton as a projectile to knock down the other enemies like bowling pins. There was also an uppercut move that doubled as an extra bit of lift when platforming - kind of like Smash Bros. I imagine there being plenty more moves where this came from, being that it's advertised as a Metroidvania.
Co-op looked like a fun, but optional feature of the game, which is actually a nice change from other games which tend to force co-op, making the single player feel lacking. I played this demo with a second player, but it looks like it'll be easy to drop in and out of multiplayer at any time. This is not to say a second player isn't helpful: at one point we found ourselves playing catch with an enemy as we grappled him back and forth until one of us landed the final punch.
The game also features portals scattered throughout the world as a link between the worlds of the living and dead. This works similar to A Link to the Past, where going through a portal brings you to an alternate version of the level you're in, changing platforms or items throughout. One especially fun moment had portals placed in open air, which allowed the player to jump through a portal, land on a wall in the other world, and wall jump back through that portal into another wall.
Even later in the level, the player has to outrun a large monster, and the only way out of certain dead ends is to jump through a portal where that dead end doesn't exist. It's a nice change up from the usual puzzles games with alternate dimensions present. This required quick reactions, and I often died, letting the second player panic and carry on without me.
The game will be out on April 9th (this Tuesday!) in North America and will be available for $14.99 as a cross-buy title for PS3 and Playstation Vita.