Shovel Knight is a tribute to the NES classics and more. Featuring elements from Mega Man, DuckTales, The Legend of Zelda, and Super Mario Bros., Shovel Knight is an extraordinary action/platformer title developed by Yacht Club Games. With a great presentation, smooth gameplay, memorable characters and lots of treasure, Shovel Knight is my game of the year so far in 2014.
When playing Shovel Knight, it felt like I was playing an NES game. While the NES definitely could not handle Shovel Knight, it looked and sounded like an 8-bit game. The graphics made me appreciate the beauty of both Shovel Knight and its NES inspirations. Games don't need to look breathtaking and Shovel Knight illustrates that. Complimenting the retro graphics is a soundtrack that harkens back to the days when soundtracks enhanced gaming experiences despite being on limited hardware.
The gameplay in Shovel Knight is a mix of Mega Man and DuckTales. Shovel Knight uses his shovel as his weapon in two ways: One way is slashing enemies either left or right and the latter is using the shovel like a pogo stick - formerly used in DuckTales. The stages in Shovel Knight are like Mega Man where you defeat the enemies and move to the next frame in the stage. Each stage features a unique boss with a fight designed for the style of the stage you are playing. Unlike most NES games, which were very difficult, Shovel Knight is not terribly difficult and has checkpoints after every few frames. These checkpoints have a twist, though. If you're a masochist and want a more difficult experience, you can destroy the checkpoints for gems, creating a risk vs. reward type of experience. The platforming aspect is slower and is not spot on like Super Mario games, but rather slick at times. This is not a major issue, considering the jumps are usually up to the player's ability.
Shovel Knight features an over world map like Super Mario Bros. 3 and features towns like Zelda II: The Adventure of Link. You access the numerous stages, towns, and special events across the large map. Along with the stages and towns, there are treasure stages and mini-boss encounters for the player to take on. Players are rewarded with money, which they can use to increase health, increase magic, upgrade new weapons and armor, and purchase various sub weapons. While these upgrades are optional, gaining another health tab feels awesome. Shovel Knight also features new game plus for anyone seeking a more difficult challenge.
Shovel Knight is an amazing action platformer that reminds us how influential and amazing the NES was. Featuring mechanics from many classics, Shovel Knight embraces its inspirations while not copying these games. Shovel Knight is its own game and is a game of the year contender. This game is a must own for retro fans, indie game fans, and anyone who wants a memorable experience.