Over the last few years we have seen a resurgence of retro inspired games and few have the quality of “Shovel Knight”. “Shovel Knight” truly feels like it should have been released in the 80’s on the NES but with prettier graphics and some newer gameplay ideas. Although it may look similar to NES games has more colors and an art style that makes it look better then any game of that era. Thanks to the backers on Kickstarter studio Yacht Club Games raised enough money to make this game and put it out on consoles. “Shovel Knight’s” gameplay is the ultimate mash-up of classic side scrolling games, in some ways it plays like “Megaman” with its side-scrolling action platforming and its boss battles and “Duck Tales” with its Pogo stick jumping, it also has level exploration similar to “Castlevania”, and an over world map like “Super Mario Bros 3”. It also has a great soundtrack that feels like it is right out of that era of gaming.
The “Shovel Knight” is a small medieval knight with a powerful weapon, the “Shovelblade”, he can use it like a slashing sword and he it gives him a tremendous digging ability. He also has the ability to use sub weapons similar to “Castlevania” or “Ninja Gaiden”. The plot of Shovel Knight is very interesting, he used to fight along side his loved one Shield Knight, one day on a quest to the Tower of Fate they where both cursed, and Shield Knight was lost. After that, Shovel Knight gave up adventuring as a new evil Enchantress rose to power. The evil Enchantress opened up the Tower of Fate, now the Shovel Knight must travel to the tower, free Shield Knight, beat the eight bosses of “The Order of No Quarter” and destroy the evil plaguing the land.
The Shovel Knight travels the world map exploring individual levels and collecting treasures. You can also replay any level, collecting more cash or finding anything you missed. Each level has many secrets, expanding the fun you can have to more than just completing each level. The Shovel Knight can then visit towns and talk with people. The found cash can be used to buy upgrades to health, digging ability, armor and even magic powers.
Unlike the older style NES games there is no life count. Similar to newer games such as “Dark Souls”, when you die you drop bags of cash that you can pick up on the next play through, there are also very generous checkpoints you can restart from making it so you don’t loose a lot of game progress. One new idea, if you are feeling confident, you can forgo the save point in exchange for extra cash, but if you die, you loose significantly more progress. Skipping check points is also a way to increase the difficulty of the game. There is a new game plus feature that allows you to replay the game and keep all the things you had in previous play-throughs. This enables you to concentrate on finding the stuff you missed and reliving the story.
On your first play through you can expect about 8 to ten hours. If you use the new game plus you can replay as long as you want and with the quality of the game you will want come back again and again.
Even if you have never played any of the games of this era, you will dig this game thanks to its amazing design; beautiful 8-bit style graphics and a great soundtrack. “Shovel Knight” ranks up there with the best games of the action platforming genre. If you are a fan of 80’s era NES games you are going to love this game. It takes inspiration from the best classic games and adds elements of newer games creating one of the best retro indie games on the market.
Robbie Vanderveken is the digital operations specialist at The Times Leader. E-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
System: Wii U, 3DS, PC
ESRB Rating: E for Everyone: Mild Fantasy Violence
Publisher: Yacht Club Games
Developer: Yacht Club Games
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