Shovel Knight is an 8-Bit retro style game where you play as the heroic Shovel Knight in an attempt to overthrow an evil Enchantress that has taken over the kingdom. The gameplay is a lot like an old NES game and really does a good job in making some homages to certain games - I’m looking at you Super Mario Bros 3 Hammer Bro that moves around the map.
The Maps: The maps in shovel knight have amazing designs right off the bat, ranging from nice calm looking hills, to stormy dark castles with lightning flashes everywhere. The maps have basically what you would expect in the maps of Kirby, Mario, and Castlevania combined. They flow very well like in Mario, have the amazing color palette that Kirby has, and the nice aesthetic detail that Castlevania had. I would have to say that it is hard to explain all these maps in one segment because they range from so many different settings. One day you end up in a village, then you see a castle, then a graveyard, lots of things. If I had to describe the maps of Shovel Knight in one sentence it would be “very well designed”.
The Controls and Combat: Shovel Knight’s gameplay is focused on platforming, there are very few controls and that makes it easy to play. The gameplay has three main components: Moving/Jumping, Relics, and attacking. It is all controlled with about the same amount of buttons as you would have on a new controller and is extremely easy to pickup and use right off the bat. The combat is not much except for digging up things with your shovel, and using it to kill enemies. The really cool part about this game is relics, these relics are like special attacks, they use up mana or “Magic” and do something cool. Some relics will create a big ball that bounces around the screen and damages enemies, while some will make you not take damage for a short time. All of these relics are bought at shops and can be accessed in your inventory. The inventory system is a lot like The Legend Of Zelda because it has all of your relics placed on a very simple grid and makes them easy to access. Altogether the controls are well made, and extremely easy to use.
The Gameplay: The gameplay from Shovel Knight is very compelling but simple. Progressing to the next level has you traversing the over world map in a way that is reminiscent of Kirby or Zelda 2. Once in the levels, you platform around the map while killing enemies, and at the very end of the level, you fight one of the many bosses. The boss battles are very interesting because rather than charging head on and mashing buttons like in some newer titles, this game has you memorize the bosses moves and techniques until you can know what move is going to be used and when, and then has you use that knowledge against them. The bosses also have an extremely cool style, in the way that they are animated, and it fits the retro theme perfectly. Altogether, I have to say that the gameplay in Shovel Knight is extremely well made. It keeps you entertained and genuinely feels like an old NES title.
Shovel Knight comes off as one of those games trying to cash in on the retro fad when really, it delivers an amazing experience full of homages to various NES titles, with an awesome vivid color palette, nice looking graphics, and an amazing RPG-esque type of inventory system, Shovel Knight is one of the best platformers I have played in a long time. I would recommend this to anyone who has ever enjoyed a good platformer. If you would like to buy it, it’s currently available for Wii U and 3DS, and it’s on Steam for $15. Look for it on PS Vita, PS3, and PS4 on April 21, 2015!