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Shovel Knight Pocket Dungeon

It helps me understand how to play it if I think of it more as some sorta hyper-charged Cave Noire than in the Wario’s Woods / Magical Drop family. Since it’s not on the beat, it doesn’t feel similar to Cadence of Hyrule at all either. I was still struggling but I happened to get Shield Knight as my first unlock and I’ve been playing as her. She has a Bofuri style build which is easy to play and made the game flow a little better (and riskier). I then unlocked Specter Knight but I’ve been staying with Shield Knight.

I like the game overall but it does the thing some rogues do (or as the game eyerollingly refers to them, “roguelites” with a “t”), where you unlock stuff permanently for later runs. That doesn’t disqualify it from the genre, but it’s not my preference. It takes away some of what I think is fun about rogues, that every run is a fresh start. The game is absolutely designed around this and it wouldn’t be an easy change to make (unlike Cadence of Hyrule which does have a setting to make it that way). For example, unlocking knights.

I’ve made it to the Chromatic Caverns. I play with 1 stock, rogue style, but again with Shield Knight which to me is an easier character. While I’ve only seen three knights so far, it seems like they did a good job with balance. In Mr Driller Drill Spirits (which this game feels less like than I would’ve guessed from videos–again, the closest relative is probably Cave Noire, maybe with a little Witch and Hero mixed in, both in terms of overworld and Defender-like flow of enemy herds. If I have to pick a puzzle game to compare it too, Chain Shot! comes closest, but not that close. Again, as I was watching gameplay footage, I was like “this looks like Mr Driller with a shovel” but it doesn’t feel that way at all), the unlockable drillers are so much weaker than Mr Driller. More fun, so I’d often use them, but at a huge hit to my success rate. I like that that isn’t the case here and that Shield Knight led to the game feeling comfier and (for me and my play style) easier.

A problem with the design is that in the “camp site” (a between run area sort of like the backpack in The Flame and the Flood) you can unlock relics (which work similar to the relics in Slay the Spire, i.e. they’re a huge and vital part of your strat) you later can buy in the main game when you find Chester (a character from the Shovel Knight series). However, he gives you a menu of three relics to shop from. So, as any deckbuilder player knows, there’s an incentive to not unlock bad relics because they will dilute your choice of good relics. This is a permanent mistake, i.e. persists between runs. I’ve steered clear of the ones I don’t want, for the most part, because I realized this right away, but then I misclickingly unlocked one I was just checking out.

Overall, the game is addictive. Normally, I get the most addicted to variety games like Wario Ware or Rhythm Heaven, and here there are some nice bonus games on offer like Mona’s reflex game (sometimes they can take over, like Kirby’s Brawl Ball (a pinball bonus game) in Kirby’s Mass Attack. I had no idea that game was gonna be in there but as soon as I unlocked it, I gave up on the main game and only use the cart for Brawl Ball, still one of my most played DS games on my 2DS. I busted the R-key on my DSi marathoning it) but here the main game is on its own super addictive. Some levels flow well and others are frustrating. It’s sometimes unclear what’s going on, like stepping on water (which to me seem indistinguishable from floor tiles).

Overall I like the game.