Shovel Knight pays homage to the Nintendo classics. Find out how in the review!
If you grew up in the late 1980’s like I did, then you know your NES history and that the first Nintendo system was overrun with platforming games like Super Mario Brothers. Paying homage to the classics is Nintendo’s forte as of late and you can add Shovel Knight to that list. Shovel Knight does a great job of bringing the classics back into the limelight and does a great job being its own entity. I’m sure you’ll “dig” what I’m saying in this review and I am sorry for that pun but we all have to deal with it now.
Without going into too much in terms of details for the story, Shovel Knight has to stop the Enchantress and the Order of No Quarter from taking over. That’s your basic old school storyline and it works for Shovel Knight. The games does a good job at introducing the simple game play mechanics in the first level and it doesn’t feel like a tutorial because it doesn’t spell anything out for you. It just throws you into the game, just like an old NES game would.
During your journey, you will need to collect gold/jewels that are like rupees in the Legend of Zelda to spend on magic and items. Speaking of the Legend of Zelda, Shovel Knight takes a lot of cues from Legend of Zelda 2: The Adventures of Link in design and game play mechanics. Examples that show this perfectly are the world map where there are some enemies running around as well as towns that are small levels in their own right and the ability to use magic while fighting. Being able to upgrade your shovel and armor feels like it was taken right from the Zelda playbook.
Shovel Knight also pays homage to other Nintendo/NES games as well like Mega Man with the musical styling and the spikes being death, Ducktales in the platforming and the cane-like downward strike, and Metroid at times with the platforming and needing a new item/weapon to advance. The game is like a virtual history book for the Nintendo Entertainment System and its own game at the same time. Originality is rampant in Shovel Knight as well and you can see that on display with the Order of No Quarter, the “robot masters” if you will, of the Shovel Knight universe. Treasure Knight fights with an anchor, Tinker Knight fights with a giant robot, and Specter Knight fights with a scythe.
The music soundtrack is fantastic and if you’ve read my material in the past, you know I’m a sucker for video game music. Shovel Knight adds the sound test mode by sneaking it right into the game play. You meet the bard and he pays you for every scroll you find. After you talk to the bard about each scroll, you can play the song whenever you like. In terms of just great music, Shovel Knight has some of the best music the Wii U has to offer, in 8 bit form. The introduction level and Clockwork Tower have some great music.
You’ll have the opportunity to upgrade your armor and your shovel to make it the coolest, most powerful shovel ever! Once you purchase all the shovel upgrades, you keep them and you can swap armor for free after you buy them. You can also buy items throughout the adventure that will be easily switched between on the Game Pad menu screen, if you’re playing on the Wii U. Another bonus is that you can have quite a few files to play the game so you and other people can play.
Now, with every good game, there are good moments and then there are those not so good moments. Shovel Knight has more good points than bad, but there are low points all the same. The game is very unforgiving in terms of battle which might not sounds like much now, but just wait until you play the game and you think it can’t get any tougher than it has and then bam! There are eight members of the Order of No Quarter and the first four are tough to begin with and then the second four are tough too. The game being tough could be a sign that this is a very good game. The controls are a little confusing at times but that’s simple to fix by tweaking the control layout on the menu screen.
You also get set up into tough, precarious jumps and situations at times when you know you’re going to get hit by an enemy. The game will support Miiverse when the game is released to the public and it should be interesting to see who can draw Shovel Knight looking badass! I don’t want to spoil the end but the game takes another page out of the Mega Man formula but that’s all I’m going to say pertaining to that! Only time will tell if you can defeat the Enchantress and the Order of No Quarter.
To conclude, Shovel Knight will be one of the top Wii U/3DS eShop games of the year because it shows the time and effort put into it by Yacht Club Games. Shovel Knight has the best features from some of the best NES games/franchises and at the same time, plays like a completely new property. The positives outweigh the negatives by a wide margin. Music, graphics, and gameplay put Shovel Knight ahead of the rest and it will be interesting to see what the future holds for our Shovel wielding friend. It’s these reasons why I’m giving Shovel Knight for the Wii U/3DS a 9/10.
Score: 9 / 10