In 2013, Yacht Club Games announced Shovel Knight, a throwback to the 8-bit platformers of olde. After an extremely successful Kickstarter campaign, Shovel Knight was funded and development began. A year and several delays later, Shovel Knight was finally released on June 26 amidst a lot of hype and anticipation. Did Shovel Knight live up to the hype? Yes, it did.
Shovel Knight is a side-scrolling platform game about a knight who wields a shovel. After a long hiatus from active duty after losing his friend in the sealed Tower of Fate, the Enchantress has emerged from the tower to wreak havoc across the land. And now it's up to Shovel Knight to rescue his friend and to stop the Enchantress and her order of evil knights. It's a silly premise but fitting considering the game's playful retro concept.
At a glance, Shovel Knight looks and sounds like an NES game. Not only has Yacht Club Games borrowed the aesthetic of these old games, Shovel Knight plays like one too. Two buttons (jump and attack), a pause button, a toggle button for your relics and a D-pad are all you need. Shovel Knight incorporates a lot of gameplay mechanics from classic Nintendo games, but it also uses a lot of modern features too like checkpoints, infinite lives and saving. However, bottomless pits, instant-kill spikes and the dreaded knock-back from Castlevania are there to keep the challenge and nostalgia around.
Taking a page from Mega Man, Shovel Knight has to battle eight knights before he can set foot in the Tower of Fate. Each boss battle has its own gimmick that ranges from amusing to flippin' hard. Thankfully, using relics can help you out in battle. Unlike Mega Man, you don't earn their powers when they are defeated. Instead, you buy them from a merchant inside a treasure chest that can be found in each level. It's aggravating, but it's no biggie if you keep a healthy amount of gold on you. Just be sure not to die or else you'll lose a portion of your gold. Thankfully, you can claim it back...unless you die again before you claim it.
Relics can also be used to reach hard to obtain treasures. The more gold you collect, the more upgrades you can purchase to beef up your Shovel Knight. There's even a hall of champions where backers who pledged enough money to the game's Kickstarter campaign can see their portraits on the background. It's a nice way to thank the fans who helped made this game possible.
Shovel Knight can be cleared in a few hours, but it's a hell of a ride. It's difficult and also forgiving. It's a tribute to the NES generation that does the era justice. Also, the music is really, REALLY good. You can sample it here!
Hint: Only you can prevent forest fires! Be sure to put out your campfire after completing each stage.
by Ray n.