Published on June 26th, 2015 | by octaneblue1
Review: Shovel Knight – 3DS
Developer(s): Yacht Club Games
Publisher(s): Yacht Club Games
Platforms(s): 3DS, Wii U, Steam, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Xbox One
Release Date(s): June 26, 2014 (3DS, Wii U, Steam), September 13, 2014 (OS X), October 8, 2014 (Linux), April 21, 2015 (PS4, PS3, PS Vita), April 29, 2015 (Xbox One)
Perfect (or close enough to it)
Today marks the one-year anniversary of the release of Shovel Knight on Wii U, 3DS, and Steam! This will be a better-late-than-never review of this fantastic platformer from Yacht Club Games!
Made up of several former members of WayForward Technologies, developer Yacht Club Games launched an incredibly successful Kickstarter campaign to fund a brand-new IP called Shovel Knight. Upon its release, critics and fans alike praised the game, earning it several awards. The game certainly earns all of the praise too, as it offers plenty of 2D platforming entertainment. And I can safely say that the game a must-play title for any fans of the genre. Read on for the full review of Shovel Knight!
Shovel Knight stars the titular hero as he searches for his lost love, Shield Knight, while fighting against the members of the Order of No Quarter, which is comprised of several formidable knights. Shovel Knight will have to traverse through several different levels, all of which are really unique and have their own particular aspects of challenge. You’ll have to fight a member of the Order of No Quarter at the end of most of the levels, as well as some scattered mini-bosses on the map. The boss fights are unique to one another, and each one has its own particular set of patterns to memorize and strategies to come up with, which is something I, and probably many other players, will certainly appreciate. As a whole, the boss fights are a blast. Some games have boss fights that feel like a chore to go through, but thankfully the ones in this game are just plain fun.
Shovel Knight is a 2D platformer at its core, and those that grew up with these kind of games back in the NES era will probably smile once they recognize each retro reference and the inspirations behind certain gameplay elements. The game offers a very fair difficulty curve, which is very welcome for newer players, but there’s certainly a good amount of challenge for everyone as well. Platforming is pretty much perfect thanks to the tight controls, which actually work well on the 3DS.
One of the standout elements of Shovel Knight is its flat-out amazing soundtrack, primarily composed by Jake “virt” Kaufman, but also includes tracks by the legendary Manami Matsumae (Mega Man). The chiptune-based soundtrack offers extremely catchy themes that fit perfectly with each of the stages, boss fights, etc. The soundtrack is one that is enjoyable to listen to when not playing the game – that’s a good sign of a fantastic soundtrack, right? In any case, the soundtrack is probably one of the best ones of this generation thus far. It’s really that good!
Shovel Knight is armed with his trusty shovel, which may sound like an odd choice of weapon in concept, but it’s an absolute blast to use. In addition to a shovel strike, Shovel Knight can use his shovel as a pogo stick by holding down in the air – this is obviously a reference to the same ability that Scrooge McDuck was able to do with his cane in DuckTales for the NES. Throughout each level, you’ll be able to find and collect treasure. This is the game’s form of currency, allowing you to do tasks such as upgrading your armor and shovel, buy new abilities, and so on. Upgrading is done in the game’s town, which is a fun place to explore on its own. And speaking of exploration, Shovel Knight offers a lot of hidden paths and secrets that generally lead to worthwhile amounts of treasure to collect. So it’s not just all about platforming, there’s some exploring to do in each level as well, extending the replay value of the game.
The game will probably take the average player anywhere from 5-7 hours to go through. However, for completionists, there are collectibles such as the music sheets, which unlock songs for the game’s sound test, as well as achievements. In addition, a more difficult adventure in the form of New Game+ is available after your first playthrough. So although Shovel Knight is not too lengthy, it’s a game that you can keep coming back to, even after you’ve beaten it. Because of the game’s super-successful Kickstarter, free updates are on the way sometime in the future!
In regard to unique features, the 3DS version offers stereoscopic 3D support, touch screen support for sub-weapon swaps on the fly, and StreetPass functionality. The 3D effect works surprisingly well, and playing with the 3D function all the way up won’t hurt your eyes at all; it actually looks very cool. The 3DS version has an exclusive StreetPass Arena mini-game, in which you collect gems as fast as possible, similar to a coin-collecting mini-game in the original Mario Bros. game. Three runs of this mini-game are recorded, and StreetPasses will send this out to other players. You can watch and see how your recorded Shovel Knight does against other recordings from other players. It’s a neat addition that takes advantage of the unique StreetPass ability of the 3DS.
It’s easy to see why so many Kickstarter backers believed in Shovel Knight. The game is absolutely charming, and it’s simply a blast to play trough. The game takes a huge amount of inspiration from classic games from the 8-bit era, but brings players a fresh, new, and superbly-designed experience. If you’re a fan of the genre, you owe it to yourself to play this game – it’s that good!
+ Fun platforming & boss battles
+ Absolutely amazing soundtrack
+ Great 8-bit style graphics
+ Plenty of retro references
In addition to the 3DS, Shovel Knight is also on the Wii U, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Xbox One, and Steam. The Wii U version offers Off-TV Play and Miiverse support, and the Sony versions feature Kratos from the God of War series as a boss fight, as well as a unique armor set. The Xbox One version features a Battletoads-themed level, complete with boss fights against the Battletoad trio.