I played the demo on PC and can confirm: Valfaris feels real nice to play. I’m glad this studio seems to have developed their design chops to match their pixel art.
About the Contra aside… The recent loot-focused Contra: Rogue Corps reinforced my working theory about why some beloved old series have been left in limbo. Contra is a household name, so a new Contra game should reach a broad audience. But the Contra games people love follow a traditional arcade model that has niche appeal now: under 2 hours long and kicking your ass the whole time. It would be unfeasible to make a ~8-hour game with the pace of a good run-and-gun, and the end result would be exhausting to play. So they pad Rogue Corps out with slower play and a loot grind, and now no one’s happy. It’s the same problem Sonic and Star Fox have been struggling with for decades. Indies don’t have the pressure of following up a legacy, which frees them up to do a better job continuing that legacy, like Valfaris, Freedom Planet, and… I’m not sure anyone’s made an indie Star Fox yet.