Welcome back friends to my esteemed blog. I hope all of you out there had an incredible fire cracking 4th of July weekend. As most of us prepare to return to our usual 9-5 occupations, some of us would like to know what is hot in the gaming world. Thankfully, I have come back to bring you yet another fantastic dose of gaming goodness. There are plenty of big names within the gaming industry, but for those of you who are not aware, indie games are making a huge positive impact within the gaming world.
Independent developer Yacht Club Games has launched their newest title Shovel Knight for the Nintendo 3DS and the Wii U. This title is a tribute to retro platforming games that many, if not, all of us are too familiar with. The question is, does Shovel Knight pay homage to a time period of great games? Or, does it insult the genre of retro platforming that we have all loved since childhood? Let’s find out shall we?
Graphics: Shovel Knight is a retro gaming platforming adventure that takes a risk with having 8-bit type graphics, but you can’t help but be mesmerized by the beautiful execution of this trip down memory lane. It dives back into the days of old without ever making the game look too outdated. The sprites and backgrounds are very well executed, the colors are unbelievably vibrant, and the blend of graphical elements from different gaming titles of the 8-bit era (you’ll see which ones shortly) draw you in to the point where you completely forget that you are playing this game on a next-generation gaming console. Yacht Club Games deserves high recognition and praise for their incredible and masterful execution of this element. Score: 9.5/10
Sound: The music of Shovel Knight is a retro gamer’s dream come true. It uses the 8-bit chip sound production beautifully, and more often than not, I found myself tapping my toes to some of these incredible tracks. This is a reminder to gamers that you don’t need a full scale orchestra to create fantastic memorable music. Score: 9/10
Gameplay: The meat of this package is within the gameplay. Shovel Knight is a side-scrolling platform adventure game. It borrows elements from many of the “in-crowd” Nintendo games. The controls are as basic as they come. You have move, jump, and attack. You side scrolling elements from Mega Man using your shovel as a pogo stick from Ducktales, and attacking foes in similar ways to Ninja Gaiden and Castlevania via swiping them with your shovel.
The map layout is very similar to Super Mario Bros. 3, one of the greatest Nintendo games ever (at least in my opinion). You traverse through different dungeon layouts and fight bosses in the same format as Mega Man. You also earn currency via digging up and or discovering gems, gold coins, and other shiny goodies along the way. Currency plays a critical role in this game, as it allows you to buy relics and potions that make your quest a little bit easier. It also plays a role when you die. Upon your death, chunks of your funds are sacrificed to bring you back. Don’t fret, you can return to you place of death and reclaim your lost funds, which are floating in bags.
You may think that this game is a “rip off” of other treasured games of the 8-bit era, but it actually feels like a stand alone title that really makes it’s mark in an incredible way. Some of us veteran retro gamers may find the difficulty of Shovel Knight a little bit mundane, but fear not friends, Yacht Club Games has provided a New Game Plus mode that is sure to scratch that itch for an extra challenge. Shovel Knight looks simplistic but it plays smoothly for those who are veterans of the Nintendo 8-bit era and those of us who were deprived of the joys of these gaming gems back in the days of old. Score: 10/10
Shovel Knight is a fantastic game. It has been years since I played through a platformer numerous times in one sitting, and it felt pretty darn good. Retro gamers looking for a hidden gem, or new age gamers wanting to find their gaming roots, look no further than Shovel Knight. A fantastic tribute to retro games and this will be a classic for many years to come.
Final Score: 9.5/10