Normal Mode is too hard. This is now a Fact. As such, I can’t make it past level 14, so I’ve knocked the difficulty down to Easy (because I’m a coward) and managed to get to 23. I’d have managed much further, but the second Guardians level wiped out virtually all my lives, and all of my continues.
I wish I knew what all the little potion things do. I know the shield ones give you, uh, shielding, but the others? I should read the manual, really.