When you think of an 8-bit game, you think of classic NES titles like Super Mario Bros., Castlevania, Mega Man, and more. But, after you are done playing through Shovel Knight, you will have a new game to add to that list. It takes the best elements from every classic retro game that all of us hold dear to our hearts, and capitalizes on them. It is really a gem among other indie titles.
For £10.99 on Steam, it has the playability value of any big Triple-A title like Call of Duty or even a Super Mario Bros. game. The storyline for Shovel Knight is a part that while doesn’t make the game what it is, still has some heart in it. Shovel Knight and his companion Shield Knight are the greatest heroes around, saving everyone and fighting crime. But then an Evil Witch comes and disappears Shield Knight, the only thing left for Shovel Knight to find his her helmet. He then embarks on a quest to track down the Evil Witch, and all of the other wrongdoers that stand in his way. From this point on you will fight all kinds of bosses, big and small, on your journey to restore peace. Pretty neat opening story right?
The game continues to get things right from the moment you are put into the first world, with no tutorials at all, but instead it places obstacles in front of you that force you to learn how to play in order to advance. This idea is genius, as most gamers hate to struggle through a tutorial before they can jump into the action. The first level comes to a close, and the player is already forced to face its first boss battle. But have no fear, as this boss is very easy, and can be defeated easily. Throughout every level, there are hidden Easter Eggs. Included with this are secret areas that can be found just by hitting a wall with a shovel, then revealed is a secret area, filled with gold and gems, with counts towards your overall currency in the game. In many games, when a player dies, they lose a certain amount of money, usually for good.
Shovel Knight has the perfect solution to this by allowing the player to retrieve the lost money in the form of flying bags (which are filled with a small portion of your coins). But, if the player dies again before retrieving the gold, that gold disappears and then is gone for good. The village is a great place to go in-between levels, and Shovel Knight can interact with every villager that walks by. Some villagers have dialogue or appearances that relate to characters from old retro NES games. The village is also the place you will go to get new armor, which each give you different ability boosts. Most indie games are expected to have a short play through, usually lasting around 3-5 hours. But in Shovel Knight, the first play through alone will take you a good 10-12 hours.
I mention that it will take the first play through, because once the game is beaten, you unlock a new mode where everything is harder. Less hearts, harder bosses, more damage taken, and gold is lost for good once you die. Another important feature in Shovel Knight is called Feats. Since this game is available on Steam, it has achievements on there built in. But Nintendo platforms have no means of achievements, so Shovel Knights solution is this is to have a feature called Feats. Basically it is achievements, but built into the game. Some of them aren’t easy, and if you don’t know about this feature when you start the game, you could miss out on a couple of them right off the bat. Some are just reaching a certain level, and others are as difficult as not falling off a cliff in the game…. Ever. That’s right; finish the ENTIRE game without falling off a cliff. Easier said than done.
Overall Shovel Knight is an amazing game, despite only being available for Steam, 3DS, and Wii U. It knows how to compete with the big boys, and is well deserving of all the praise it receives. Yacht Club Games’ first video game shot is pure gold. Even though it has some colors an NES couldn’t of run, it still will remind any gamer familiar with the retro gaming days of all the fun they had. Not to mention the fantastic soundtrack, which I currently own and is available for free. So far, it is my game of the year, and rightfully so. From now on, compare new retro games to Shovel Knight.
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