I feel like a kid again.
I grew up playing the NES, where platformers reigned supreme. Games like Mega Man, DuckTales, and Super Mario Bros. were all the rage. The simplistic nature of them all mixed with the challenging difficulty made for one great experience. It took skill and perfect timing to conquer these games. Mix that with some light RPG elements from Zelda 2 and Castlevania, and players have a fantastic recipe. That recipe creates Yacht Club Games’ Shovel Knight.
Players take control of the Shovel Knight. He is in search for his partner Shield Knight, as she has fallen into the clutches of evil. Now, he must traverse the land defeating the corrupt knights of No Quarter and find a way to save her.
Platforms: PC, Wii U, 3DS
Price I’d pay: $15
Length: 4-5 hours
Taking cues from far too many games to count, Shovel Knight takes the 8-bit graphics and chip-tune soundtrack to heart. It honestly felt like I was playing an old NES game. In terms of how the game plays, think of it like a tightly controlled Zelda 2 mixed with aspects of Mega Man. Shovel Knight can jump and attack with his shovel sword. Along with that, he can obtain sub-weapons like a fireball producing fire rod or punching gauntlets that add even more to the combat. To top it all off, he can even jump in the air and pogo on enemies’ heads a la Scrooge McDuck.
Each stage plays out like Mega Man. There’s a theme to each level and a boss for that level, so players will be taking on the likes of King Knight, Plague Knight and Mole Knight.
Players can go into town to upgrade their max health and magic, give found music pages to the bard to listen to the games amazing original soundtrack by Jake Kaufman (DuckTales Remastered) and Manami Matsumae (Mega Man) and purchase new items and upgrades for Shovel Knights’ armor and weapon.
Each stage has a bit of a gimmick that must be learned and utilized properly. Platforming and precise jumping and attacks are of the utmost importance in Shovel Knight. Getting hit knocks him back, so knowing where bottomless pits are is crucial for survival. If the player does die, they start back at certain checkpoints found throughout the level, and have a chance to gather up lost money dropped when they last died.
Since there are checkpoints throughout the levels and no real game over potential, it’s not as unforgiving as old school NES titles, but let me just warn potential players, you will die. This game does not skimp out on the difficulty. So keep in mind that even if players are dying a good amount, they can still power thorough it.
Shovel Knight is a nice homage to old 8-bit games and it is so well done it is impressive. I was so addicted to Shovel Knight; I played it from beginning to end in two days and went back and started the more challenging new game plus right away. It has the charm of old school games while still remaining as accessible as possible with checkpoints and no need for lives/continues.
If you played these classic NES games back in the day and are looking for that feeling again, you just found it. Shovel Knight is one game pretty much any gamer should not miss out on.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.