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Shovel Knight

Yacht Club Promises Retro Charm In Spades

According to Yacht Club’s successful Kickstarter, at least 14,749 people are interested in the developer’s homage to classic, side-scrolling NES action. The game raised $311,502, shattering its $75,000 goal. The game features music, aesthetics, and gameplay that are specifically reminiscent of Capcom’s 8-bit titles – something near and dear to my heart. I played an early PC version of a medieval castle level to see first-hand if the promising project is worth getting excited for.

Shovel Knight plays like a rock-solid hybrid of Capcom’s Duck Tales and Mega Man games (I used a wired 360 controller). Like Scrooge McDuck, you can make the hero pogo off enemies’ heads using the shovel. You can also time a swing of the shovel to deflect foes’ projectiles back at them. The game plays smooth and fast, with no apparent slow down or glitches. The only oddity I noticed is that you can’t attack enemies while on a ladder – something we expect to be fixed when the game is finished. 

The environments are filled with a good deal of secrets to explore and dirt to dig up. Piles of debris litter certain screens (which scroll similar to Mega Man titles), which can be shoveled up to reveal the gems and magic potions beneath. We have no idea what gems are for yet, but just the simple act of scooping up 8-bit grit is somehow satisfying. The magic potions are used to fuel a fiery projectile attack, which comes in handy. 

The gameplay is fluid and fun enough that some players could easily settle into a groove and whiz through a level without stopping to explore. They’d be missing out. More observant players will notice little secrets tucked into the pixelated world. One loft ledge requires a well-timed pogo jump off an enemy to reach a hidden gem. Another hidden chest is only accessible by venturing across a series of rickety chandeliers. Based on King Knight’s stage, the level design is on par with the best the NES had to offer.

Downloadable games and throwback visuals are a dime a dozen these days, but Shovel Knight’s medieval theme helps unify the overall look. Each boss has a unique look and themed level, from the hulking, Viking-like Polar Knight to the regal King Knight. The latter’s stage is filled with javelin-toting bad guys and wizards that launch fireballs. Overall, the presentation is clean and colorful.

Shovel Knight’s 8-bit soundtrack really seals the deal for nostalgia. Fans of Capcom’s early musical stylings will find a lot to love here. Yacht Club even has Mega Man composer Manami Matsune composing two tracks for the game. The music in Knight Man’s level is triumphant and driving. Its catchiness is just as much motivation as the fun gameplay to keep working towards battle with King Knight.

The Shovel Knight demo concludes with a boss fight against King Knight. The evil king leaps from his throne as intense battle music kicks in. The King attacks with a series of basic attacks and a jumping ground-pound. He can also strike a royal pose to initiate a fanfare, which causes trumpets to appear on the sides of the screen and deadly confetti to rain down.  After landing the final blow and watching the King’s crown hit the ground I found myself eager to continue Shovel Knight’s quest, which hits PC, 3DS, and Wii U this winter.

Check out Shovel Knight's Kickstarter page for more info on the game

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Comments
  • I was really surprised when this project came about on Kickstarter, but the only reason I was hesitant to support it was because I....well I don't play games on my computer. I know I'm probably missing out, but I don't have a great PC (only just good), and I am just a console/handheld kind of person. I couldn't see a level that had a 3DS download code, so I'll hold off until later and just buy it the old fashioned way. Great preview, it seem to have really nailed the cadence of the old 8-bit platformers. Can't wait!
  • I am ridiculously excited for this game. I'm glad I donated to the Kickstarter. This is the type of game I've been wanting for a long time.

  • Mod
    Nothing makes me feel more heroic than beating civilians with a shovel.
  • Sweeet. I'm getting this for 3DS.

  • Turi, it reminded you so much of the Blue Bomber, you referred to King Knight as Knight Man in the last paragraph. Your opinion's always meant the most to me and now I'm even more stoked for this game. I put 15 bucks into the Kickstarter campaign and I'm happy with that choice.

  • Great look at Shovel Knight, Mike. I'm surprised on how polished and fun it sounds. I so love these 8-bit style games and will more than likely pick it up.
  • That pun in the headline is killing me. You're a monster, Turi.

  • I don't want to wait until Winter!! I need a Mega Man-type fix since Capcom isn't listening to it's fan base lately when it comes to the Blue Bomber

  • This game is gonna be so awesome! I'm glad to have backed this game with my $10!
  • Good preview, reading about actual hands-on game play and how it stacked up to some of the qualms I had about the title not being able to measure up to that which inspired it was nice.

    It'd be nice if the developer showed some more game play demos, though. I'd like to see what the title brings to the table as its own game.
  • Retro charm in SPADES! Ha, good one. Didn't have to dig too deep for that pun.

  • THIS LOOKS REALLY COOL. HOPE IT'S BETTER THEN RETRO CITY RAMPAGE.

  • I've been waiting for a game like this to come out and scratch my nostalgia itch. I'm gonna support this game asap.
  • Very punny- and yes, it looks awesomely retro.

  • Wonderful. Share a website with you , ( http://www.ccmalls.net/ ) Believe you will love it. We accept any form of payment.
  • I'm psyched for this game thanks to TBFP's LP of the demo. As someone who didn't really get into gaming until the late 90s and early 00s, I actually haven't played many traditional side-scrollers besides Mega Man Classic, Super Mario Bros. and snippets of other games like Castlevania and TMNT. It'll be great to experience a game of a genre that still has tons of potential and appeal, and not just for nostalgia.

  • Yep,seems like a really great homage to a great time of games,whats not to love?