Shovel Knight Review: Everyday I’m Shovelin’

April 24th, 2015 -

In 2013, a small group of former WayForward employees built Yacht Club Games and pitched their first title to the public via Kickstarter: Shovel Knight. It originally launched June 26th (25th at some point if you backed it, I don’t recall when I was sent the code), 2014. The goal of YCG is “to make really awesome original games that fuse modern and retro sensibilities,” and having worked on titles like Contra 4, Bloodrayne Betrayal, Double Dragon Neon, and more, it’s obvious they have a talent for that. Having played the game when it originally launched, I can tell you upfront it’s great – seriously, this was one of the best games in the genre I’ve played in years, and it still is. If you want to read more about the PlayStation versions (or were wondering about the differences in the others), continue reading. Regardless, if you have a system that plays Shovel Knight, you need to buy it.

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For those that don’t know the wonders of Shovel Knight, let me go ahead and briefly describe them to you. Did you grow up playing Nintendo in the 80s-90s? Did you enjoy your time with titles such as Mega Man? Do you like lots of added content such as game modes and discovering secrets? This takes all of that and turns it up past the recommended limits. From the beautifully made sprites to the hilarious dialogue and masterful level design, you’ll have no reason to regret picking up your shovel and chasing after the dastardly Black Knight. Oh, and as always, Jake Kaufman absolutely kills it on the soundtrack, creating something you might expect from the likes of Manami Matsumae.

Now, onto the PlayStation exclusive content. Do you have a full ecosystem of PlayStation in your life? That is, do you play on a PS3, then switch to a PS4, and bring a Vita on the go? Good news, the game is cross-buy, so you won’t have to pay multiple times to play it on whichever platform you want. And if you’re like me, you may have it downloaded on your PSTV for the console experience away from home – it works there too. It also supports cross-saves, so if you beat a level while sitting on the throne or avoiding sleep in that meeting, you won’t have to do it again when you get home. Also, while you’re playing it on Vita, you may wish to use the touchpad on the back now and then, as there are easter eggs in the game exclusive to said platform! If you’re playing on the PS4, it may be in your best interest to do so in the dark, as the light bar will be used at choice times. I know for a fact I never notice it in any game when it’s light in the room, so unless you have a mirror setup in front of you, you’re probably in the same boat. If you’re a trophy hunter, you’ll be happy to know that there is a platinum included with this release that spans across all three systems – sorry, you can’t get three platinums from this game. Finally, and most notably, the addition of Kratos (from God of War) makes for quite the battle. You can expect to see some familiar moves of his, and you’ll also feel the raw power of him in your fights with the screen shaking as you are slammed against a wall. It’s the perfect recreation of Kratos in this world built from shovels. You may even get a bit of War infused into you.

So, is the PlayStation version the version for you? That is entirely up to you. Each platform has its own benefits. If you dig trading cards on Steam, you will get those in addition to the normal features such as Big Picture mode, controller support, cloud saving, and achievements. If you like your gaming on the go, but the 3DS is your preferred handheld, you’ll have access to stereoscopic 3D, StreetPass Battle Arena (probably the coolest thing about this version), trading Play Coins for gold, and utilizing the touch screen for easy inventory swaps. The Wii U mimics the touch screen aspect when played on a TV, but also allows for off-TV play, and opens the world to the players with Digger’s Diary, something much like messages on the Miiverse and notes left in the Souls games. The upcoming release on X1 will be bringing back some amphibians that are keen to battle, and I wish I had an X1 just so I could see the Toads in action within a world like this once more.

If for some reason you still aren’t sold on this game, which is something pretty much everyone should own at some point in their lives, you may be interested to know there are more features coming in the near future. More game for the exact same price as you will be paying today (unless you get it on sale/not on sale, in which case … let’s just say it’ll never be more than $15 for all of it). In the future you’ll be seeing a couple new campaigns, new characters to play as, a challenge mode, character gender swapping, and a 4-player battle mode. I don’t know if you’ve played games in the past decade, but there has been a large emphasis on paid DLC. Shovel Knight is very much a complete game as far as games go – no notable glitches, a story, wonderful gameplay… adding anything else would typically cost money – for example, the last Mega Man titles. If you were to put a value on the upcoming content, I’d venture it’d cost at least another $15. But it’s free. This isn’t Asura’s Wrath, where you don’t see the true ending without buying it for another $7 on top of the original $60 MSRP. This. Is. SHOVEL KNIGHT!

BUY

Pros

  • Shovelry is not Dead
  • Fantastic Bosses
  • Fun Level Design

Cons

  • Shovelnistic Townsfolk

Shovel Knight was created and published by Yacht Club Games. The game was made available on PC, 3DS, and Wii U June 26, 2014 for $14.99. The PS version launched April 21, 2015, and the X1 version will launch April 29, 2015 for the same price. The PS4 copy reviewed was provided for us, and the PC/3DS versions were from backing the project on Kickstarter. If you’d like to see more of Shovel Knight, check out the official site. If you’d like to grab official merchandise or the soundtracks, make sure to check out the page for that as well.

 

Here at FFoP we use a rating method that you may be unfamiliar with, so allow us to clarify. When we review a game, we see what sort of BRA fits. Buy, Rent, or Acquire is the rating we give out – we’ve boiled it down for simplicity. A Buy is worth the full retail value; a Rent is something you may want to try before you buy, or grab at a discount; an Acquire is something you can play, but we’d suggest borrowing it from someone, grabbing it in a game bundle, or some other means. If you want further clarification, please feel free to get in touch.

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