Shovel Knight

Shovel Knight:  Melee Mega Man

The market is getting flooded with these “retro” style that has been prevalent in gaming in the past few years. Frankly, it kind of sucks that it can be an easy excuse for “too indie to afford an artist. To be fair, pushing through to 3D can usually be pricey and talented artists are not easy (cheap) to come by. Retro style can be pulled off amazingly though with Super Meat Boy, Hotline Miami, and Gemini Rue are prime examples. When they are shit, you don’t really hear about them since they just fizzle out to nothing back to the pile of failed Kickstarters and XBLA trash. Shovel Knight has been creating a lot of buzz for actually trying to emulate “retro” with it’s as close as possible NES style and tough platforming gameplay. While it’s not perfect by any means, it’s definitely a good example of how to actually do retro without being dogshit.


The levels are tough but not NES hard.

Shovel Knight takes its inspiration from the glory days of NES with actual 8-bit graphics and a chiptune soundtrack. For gamers of this era, you can very easily tell inspiration from old Nintendo games like the Mario 3 inspired map, the Mega Man platforming and boss fights, the Ducktales combat, and the Castlevania style powerups. It would seem like a mess, but it all works as not so obvious nods to gaming of yesterday. Even with these obvious inspirations, Shovel Knight still manages to keep its own charm and style. Our shovel-wielding hero, still mourning the loss of his partner Shield Knight, must stop the Enchantress and her knights with the journey ending at the Tower of Fate.

The fight leading up to this is one of the more memorable moments

The actual gameplay though the levels is textbook Mega Man with the ultimate adversity is platforming topped with the cherry of a boss fight. The level design is pretty well done taking from the Mega Man playbook with giving the right amount of variety and showing the level obstacles rather than giving a ton of dialog explaining them. Thumbs up for that, Shovel Knight. Also, there has been a lot of dialog about the difficulty and claiming it’s 8-bit Dark Souls. Nope. These people have “learning disabilities” or haven’t played Ghouls and Ghosts. It’s can get tough at times, but the checkpoint system makes the challenge moderate for seasoned players.

Overall, this is how you do a throwback to the NES days. I wish they could have tweaked the difficulty a little and maybe a few more levels, but these minor gripes. This is a game that deserves recognition not only for actually coming through with their Kickstarter (thanks Rust, Starbound), but also getting the feel of an old school game just right. If you are looking for an old school game to fill a lazy day, Shovel Knight is a well-made choice.