Okay, so I'm working on the things people've brought up. I've also made the floating enemies have proper responses to the shield, the move now, and have fire particles... that took some time to figure out what I was doing <img src="smileys/smiley17.gif" border="0" align="middle" />
I've also make a hud/gui finally! No numbers at all. In fact, no more lives. For a time, I've had a 3-heart meter like Mario 2 (vertical, I mean). And I finally convinced myself that lives and game over screens are worthless these days. So dying still puts you back to the start of the level segment you're on (again, two segments/layouts per level). I didn't want to take you back to the most recent failed jump or anything--I think that's counter to the point of platformers.
But with no lives, the orbs are worthless, right? No, there just won't be health pickups anymore. The orbs translate into health. You have 3 hits before you die. Every 25 orbs you collect, you recover a hitpoint. If you have full health and you get 25 orbs, you get a short bit of invulnerability.
<img src="http://www.adamprack.com/blight/screenshots/007.jpg" border="0" />
There's the new hud! The level is still in-progress (i'll be shrinking the cage, adding details around like a cot, etc.), but the circles are the new design. The outer circle stays like that, but it glows when you get the invulnerable state. The 2nd circle in starts dim and glows more are you collect orbs. When you get your 25, it returns to dark and changes the 3rd circle in (the smallest one). This is your health meter. It's green for full health, yellow down from that, red, then black and translucent when you die. You start with full health but no orbs when you start the level or die.