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A Very Metroidlike Holiday

I had the pleasure of taking a full week off from work for the end of the year and spent it back in the Midwest visiting first family and then friends. The "vacation" started off fairly stressful, with lots of issues related to extreme weather events here in the US–a snap freeze and ice storm in Portland that left us without a working bathroom 36 hours before we were set to leave town as well as a blizzard in the Midwest that delayed our flight over half a dozen times and left me white-knuckling the multi-hour drive from the airport to my in-laws' home. We made it just in time for Christmas but had to leave sooner than anyone wanted to have a chance to see my family, whose visiting time was also fairly brief.

By the time I made it up to where we'd be staying for the latter half of our trip, with the friend group that we try to always spend New Year's Eve with, I was exhausted and ready to feel like I was finally relaxed. I had my Switch and the TV wasn't occupied, so... I started playing some games. I managed to make it through two complete (relatively short) video games and start a third, and somewhat by accident they all had some mechanical similarity. I really liked them, and I don't think I've seen many people talking about any of them in my circles, so I figured I would share a bit about each in case they were of interest to anyone else!

Transiruby #

Transiruby is a Cave Story-like pixel-art sidescroller with maze-like maps, cute characters and cool boss fights. The main character is a robot named Siruby sent down to explore the surface of an environment formed during some kind of interdimensional rift event thing. The music is catchy and the way you gain powerups over the course of the game is pretty satisfying. Map progression is heavily gated by coins that you have to collect 50 of at a time to unlock the next part of the game, which can be a bit tedious, but the gorgeous pixel art and really solid gamefeel makes it less of a slog in most cases. I finished the game in something like 5 hours and spent maybe another hour collecting various optional pickups. I didn't quite 100% the game but came pretty close.

Steam | Switch eShop

Gato Roboto #

Gato Roboto's premise is really great: a space marine-type traveler, while flying over an alien planet, crash lands because his cat steps on the keyboard of his ship. He gets trapped in the ship, but you, his cat, makes it out to the planet's surface. He equips you with a mech suit which gives you offensive capabilities and extra health, but you have to hop out of the suit and navigate as a cat regularly, leading to two different styles of gameplay that the developer makes good use of. As you can see below, the graphics are monochrome pixel art, and you unlock different color palettes to change the look of things throughout the game. I managed to 100% the game in just over 3 hours, so this one is pretty short, but it's really fun and the writing is great.

Steam | Switch eShop

Islets #

I've only made it maybe 1/4 of the way through this one! It's got a great cartoon style to it with really beautiful colors and animations, and kind of feels like a combination of Hollow Knight and Celeste. The writing is very funny and it has a cool upgrade system that lets you build your character in a way that lends towards a few different gameplay styles, which is not something I see a lot in Metroid/Metroidvania-type games, so that's kinda neat. There has been one major boss fight I've encountered so far that's fought using flying machines, which I did not find super fun, but as long as they don't lean too heavily on that I don't mind mixing things up a bit. I kind of can't believe I haven't seen more people talking about this game, because it seems like the kind of thing that would be very popular among the people who have been demanding more Hollow Knight for years.

Steam | Switch eShop | Xbox | Epic Store | GOG

Let me know if you give any of these a try!