Shovel Knight is fantastic – plain and simple. It’s an amalgamation of all the best mechanics from classic platformers such as MegaMan and DuckTales, while also borrowing from Super Metroid and Castlevania. Shovel Knight uses all of these mechanics in conjunction to create one of the greatest games in this genre. Like most extremely nostalgic games as of late this game was funded by Kick Starter, however Shovel Knight has delivered on its promises with all of the stretch goals completed and provided in the original release of the game.
Shovel Knight’s presentation style is really inspired by the classic games of old such as the beautiful 16 bit art, which has some great effects such as the fire glowing wonderfully in the dark. The game’s simplistic story is that quite obviously inspired by the Mario saving the princess or the Link saves Zelda quests. The game also manages to add aspects of a different classic series in which Shovel Knight must beat a plethora of colorful knights such as Treasure Knight or Propeller Knight in order to get to the tower to rescue his beloved. This is an obvious reference to both the Koopa brothers from the Mario games and the various Men in the MegaMan Series in which you much beat there individual themed worlds and then defeat the knights in order to progress forward. One final and key part of the games presentation is the games music, Jake Kaufman’s soundtrack has a healthy dose of catchy nostalgia with a fantastic score which was inspired by the classic themes of Mario, Zelda and MegaMan.
Shovel Knight is a distillation of all the games which many of us enjoyed as children and continue to enjoy offering fast paced platforming and combat that is simple but contains a tremendous amount of depth. It allows for multiple strategies through various unlock able power ups which can be utilized in conjunction to defeat all the levels in the way you want to. The game also has very artistically different and mechanically different levels which offer a great deal of challenge through precision platforming, timing and resource management. If you really want to test your metal you can challenge yourself by destroying all the checkpoints in order to get more money to upgrade yourself. The game also has a mechanic which I believe is incredibly inspired by Dark Souls since when you die you lose a portion of your money you have collected so far however you can reclaim it as long as you are good enough to reach the same point in the level and get your money back.
Replayability wise there are many challenges which are presented to you by the game such as the aforementioned destruction of checkpoints, which gives the game a extremely more methodical and tense feel as you know one wrong jump or a couple of misplaced attacks could spell a massive retread for yourself. There are also a plethora of secrets to discover throughout the game some hidden well some in fairly clear view. It will take a fairly large amount of time for you completionist types if you want to be able to say you 100 percented Shovel Knight.
As I stated at the beginning of this review Shovel Knight is just simply a fantastic game. At a first glance it appears to be just some cash in product which attempts us to have some kind of nostalgic love towards it just because it borrows some mechanics from our favorite classic games. However, this game transcends all of the classics in order to become a game which stands above the rest along side its genre defining inspirations becoming one of the greatest games presented in this genre.
*Finally people who supported the kickstarter campaign may wanna go look around the Hall of Champions level.*