I finished Shovel Knight: King of Cards
this evening after listening to the Cane and Rinse episode on it about a week ago inspired me to jump in. Fantastic game all round!
What they said about how the short, mario-esque level design was what sold me on it and it's an accurate description. It really nails that concept of hitting you with novel gameplay twists that last a single level and don't outstay their welcome, making blasting through dozens of levels a joyous and varied experience.
Joustus, well I kind of enjoyed the first few rounds of it but at about the halfway point of the game I decided to abandon playing it seriously and just took to buying the gem-swap cheat as much as possible. It was a fun little strategy card game but it wasn't the main attraction for me, I was here for the platform adventure and so I avoided it quite a bit in the end. Luckily it's not mandatory, I don't think, it only provides you with extra merit medals which you can use to buy vigor upgrades or new items, but you get plenty of those just from the main playthrough so you won't be maligned if you do forego them.
All the items were super cool and fun to use, I like how they have a fair few options in there to mitigate falling in pits and spikes, as that was probably my most common cause of death in the game. As soon as I bought the armour suit which allowed you to survive a pit/spike fall so long as you had enough hearts in the bank, I used it exclusively for the rest of the game. Dying instantly to spikes is a real mood-killer for me.
The final bosses were tough! But not impossible. I found myself jussssst managing the last three bosses (after many failed attempts) with 1 HP left, so it felt like they were perfectly balanced, to me. You could definitely give yourself a slightly easier time if you stocked up on decrees of rejuvenations before heading in, though I'm not sure that if you did that you'd have to go and beat the level leading up to the boss again or not.
Anyway. Extremely good game, levels are bite-sized and packed full of surprising gameplay ideas and secrets. And I haven't mentioned it yet but the writing is brilliant. So charming and funny, the characters are all great. Would highly recommend if anyone enjoys a good 2D platformer!