Shovel Knight

shovel knight box art review
9.0 Overall Score
Graphics: 9/10
Sound: 9/10
Controls: 9/10

Perfect homage to classic NES games


Game Info

Game Name:  Shovel Knight

Developer(s):  Yacht Club Games

Publisher(s):  Yacht Club Games/Nintendo

Platform(s):  Wii U/Switch/3DS/Xbox One/PS3/PS4/PC

Genre(s):  Action/Adventure/Platformer

Release Date(s):  June 26, 2014 (PC/Wii U/3DS)/April 21, 2015 (PS3/PS4/Vita)/April 29, 2015 (Xbox One)

ESRB Rating:  E

shovel knight cutscene shield knight

Just a Knight and his trusty shovel…nothing could go wrong

The Shovel Knight and Shield Knight are warriors of legend.  When the Shield Knight is overtaken by a curse, the Shovel Knight might fight his way across the countryside to the Tower of Fate and battle the forces of the Enchantress who has her own Order of No Quarter who intends to stop the Shovel Knight.  Meanwhile, the Plague Knight has his own plans that the Enchantress must never discover and the Specter Knight hopes to free himself of the curse upon him.

Shovel Knight is a sidescrolling platformer which was developed by Yacht Club Games with funding by a Kickstarter campaign.  The game was originally released for the PC, Wii U, and 3DS, but eventually was ported to other systems.  The video game was released to critical acclaim.  The original game was given the chapter title of Shovel Knight:  Shovel of Hope with the Plague Knight expansion called Shovel Knight:  Plague of Shadows and the Specter Knight prequel game called Shovel Knight:  Specter of Torment (all three titles were collected with bonus material as Shovel Knight:  Treasure Trove).

shovel knight village characters screenshots gameplay

A perfect modern recreation of a NES town…right down to the lame conversations and people

I grew up in the ’80s and Nintendo was god.  If you got a Nintendo every Nintendo made game was almost a must.  Shovel Knight is an homage to old NES games and it gets it right.

The gameplay varies from what version of the game you play.  The classic Shovel Knight is a combination of Zelda II:  The Adventures of Link, Mega Man, and aspects of Castlevania.  The Specter expansion has completely different gameplay but utilizes virtually the same levels as the original game.  The Specter expansion plays more like Ninja Gaiden and has more level variety.  As a whole, all three version really get the look and dialogue of a classic NES game.

The controls are a solid port of NES controls.  You have basic button commands and much of the jumping and slashing is pretty intuitive.  The game is easy to pick up and play.  The Shovel Knight plays almost identical to Link in The Adventure of Link (minus and upper thrust which is sorely needed), but I can’t say I particularly like the controls of the Plague Knight which is an awkward, jumping and flying control.  The Specter Knight however is great fun to use and definitely a control set-up that you have to master.

shovel knight final boss enchantress gameplay screenshots

Will Shovel Knight and Shield Knight prevail against the forces of evil?!?!

The game gets the visuals down to a T.  The character designs and how the levels move (or how they frustrate with returning enemies etc.) is a flashback for fans of the original NES.  I particularly like visiting the village and talking to the passersby who echo the designs of Zelda II.  It was a lot of fun because the game felt and looked so familiar.

With that being said, kids of the ’80s will love Shovel Knight, but I also think the simplistic nature of the game has broader appeal.  With first person shooters and games that require hours and hours of playing, this game is a good time that is rewarding, but also a game that can be completed in a relatively short sitting (if you are rushing).  The multiple quests provide lots of play through and the levels do possess a lot of hidden challenges and items to locate with multiple playthroughs.  Shovel Knight is available on so many systems that there is no excuse…dig it up now!

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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