Knighting Nostalgia: A Shovel Knight Review
Most games these days are all about state of the art graphics, modern music, and complex controls. The olden days of the classic game are slowly being overshadowed by games like Call of Duty and Skyrim, with their realistic gameplay and complicated abilities.
But yet, the retro, indie gaming world still has a place within our hearts. And even though many games are coming out that defy this retro world, some actually embrace it.
Enter, Shovel Knight.
Shovel Knight is a tribute to the retro games we all hold so dearly. The 8-bit graphics bring us back to simpler times, and, coupled with the upbeat music and the intense challenges, Shovel Knight is a reminder of what we used to love. You start off just expecting a game, and before you know it, you’re back in your childhood, favorite drink in hand, your mom cooking your lunch, cartoons playing in the background. It takes you back to a time when you had no worries, not a single care in the world – except for maybe how to defeat the next boss. Once you start, you can’t put it down.
The graphics are so simple, deepened only by color and texture. Both bring more to each level, highlighting the level’s particular challenges and intricacies. The accompanying soundtrack is just amazing. Once you hear it, all you’ll want to do is play it over and over again. It brings an upbeat determination to your gameplay, spurning your desire to fight and win. It drives you on, through doubts and deaths, through frustrations and fears. Oh, and swear words. Even better are the controls. There are no special combinations of buttons, no thirty buttons for forty different controls. Just simply the D-pad and two buttons. That’s it. Anyone can pick it up and play. Those controls get you through everything.
Shovel Knight isn’t your basic knight saves the princess story. There’s no damsel in distress, no whimpering lady to rescue and win the heart of. There’s only Shield Knight, the Shovel Knight’s other half, his equal, his best friend, his love. During a fight long ago, Shield Knight was lost to Shovel Knight, trapped in a tower. Broken, Shovel Knight lives in solitude until he hears word that the tower has opened, and returns to try to find Shield Knight. The game is his fight to save her, and it’s your job to defeat the enemies and rescue Shield Knight.
But every enemy is different. Each has its own strengths and weaknesses, its own strategy to defeat you. You have to adapt to each enemy, find out what trick will defeat it. Each boss goes with the theme of the level, and they vary in difficulty. Sometimes, you have no problem taking them down. Other times, you are ready to swear in frustration at how hard the boss is. Either way, you have to learn the boss inside and out to defeat him. Sometimes, though, that’s not enough.
Let me tell you: you’re going to die. If not from the bosses, from the levels themselves. The challenges are too great not too. There is no way to get through without dying multiple times. Granted, each level gives you a hint at the beginning as to what to expect and how to get through it. But just like classic retro games, you still have to learn the bosses’ movements and weaknesses. Despite dying however, the rewards are way too great to give up.
Overall, this game is definitely worth playing. It is any NES kid’s dream. It let’s you play through your childhood again. Nothing changes about these games – there’s no updates, no modifications. It’s the same game you’ve played before. It’s a game you can return to and never be tired of; the game you go back to when you have the desperate urge to just play something good. It’s like it slaps you in the face and yells, “Did you forget how much fun I am??”
I would highly recommend this game to anyone. If you’re looking for a classic game that you can always depend on, then look no further. Shovel Knight is your game.
Learning Curve: Low-Medium
Systems: Windows, Mac, Linux, Nintendo 3DS, Wii U, PS3 and 4, PS Vita, and Xbox One