I've been playing Sokpop's latest Springblades (SD). It's a Japanese console role-playing game, but heavily streamlined. There's a map on which you can move and you can select your encounter and potential rewards, much like you would in, say, Slay the Spire. Likewise, points of interest offer only dedicated options to interact with.
The real draw in the game lies within its combat encounters. These battles draw inspiration from Paper Mario and Mario & Luigi Superstar Saga, in that timing is required to enhance your attacks and dodges. It's a great system really. Especially when it starts mixing up the types of gauges that govern the timing aspect. And I was pleasantly surprised as to what status ailments do in-game!
Another fun aspect is that your equipment is a lot more meaningful than in the common JRPG; your abilities are mostly governed by your equipment and you can use badges to modify these as you see fit. It's a simple system that nevertheless alows for some fun experimentation.
It's all wrapped up in a fun almost filter-ish low-resolution graphics style, with a simple story featuring off-beat characters and enemies. It's also perfect for Steam Deck, so load it up already!
Partially fuelled by the fever-dream that is eight stonking hours of Mega Man lore, I picked up the Mega Man Z/ZX Legacy Collection (PS4) that was still missing from my Mega Man Legacy Collection-collection.
Dear lord, are the Zero game still hard. I kind of forgot how the original Mega Man Zero just throws you into a boss fight that is as precise and limited thanks to the Game Boy Advance screen resolution, while the games really like to use large sprites. The second boss you encounter feel nigh on impossible until you perfect the A-B-A-B-C movement rhythm. That's par for the course in any Mega Man of course, but here it leaves absolutely no margin for error.
Dabbling in Mega Man ZX feels a bit more lenient, leaning more into the metroidvania flirtations of Zero and expanding upon them. I have to say, the "it's morphin' time" style switching between powers/weapons is something that's not only anime cool, it's also something that should've been part of the series ever since its inception.
Fun collection, absolutely impossible to recommend unless you already caught any of the robo-viruses.
They finally fixed the annoying frame-skips on Steam Deck, so yeah, of course I ran through Metal Slug X (SD) to celebrate! Sure it cost be 40 credits. Sure, it was still punishingly unfair at times. But is the pixel art still incredibly awesome? It sure as hell is! And that final Independence Day reference gets me every time.