Buddy Review: Shovel Knight

A Tale of Shovelry… Or was it Chivalry?

By Ben Nunn, and Chris Massara

shovel_featureWell, I suppose I could assume that if you haven’t got Shovel Knight by now, then you don’t want it.  But do you know that you don’t want it? Are you sure? I didn’t want it, at first, in fact, if I wasn’t so loose with my money, I may not have played it to this day.  I really only bought it because of all the hype. I sat down, and I played it, for about 20 minutes, and I stopped, never looking back. Until only just last week, I decided to play it while in between parts of my day, and I ended up playing for 3 hours straight. I fell in love.  My point is, how many games do we miss out on just because we cant be bothered finding out if they are good?  So here I shall share my thoughts, a long with my friend Chris, who has adopted this game from the start.

Chris: Don’t lie Ben, you played it because I pretty much strapped you in and fed you that XB1 controller you so badly crave. To answer your question: We miss out on an embarrassingly high amount of games because our schedules don’t allow it, just one of the downsides of being a (semi) responsible adult that likes video games! As you mentioned, I adopted this game as my own last June/July when it finally graced Australian Wii U and 3DS consoles after months of it being available in the US, and I can safely say that was my game of 2014, high praise when you consider it came up against Smash Bros and Mario Kart 8!

Ben: I suppose you did, and I agree, just as The Witcher 3 hit shelves, or digital shelves more like, I was so excited to start playing, but then I was met with the “Load Witcher 2 save” option, the ugly reminder that I never really started The Witcher 2.  I really love the idea that games are still being made in the old 8-bit style, its really exciting, but for some reason I fail to get motivation to play the game, it often takes happenstance or influence to play, for me to realize that I would’ve really missed out on something great.

Maybe you can give us a run down of Shovel Knight story, and some gameplay features, so our not yet converted readers can hurry up and convert.

Chris: You did miss out on it, but you have realised your error and are giving it a go now.

Shovel Knight embracing his lost lover.

Shovel Knight is a game that takes us on a journey to rescue our beloved Shield Knight. You take on “The Order of No Quarter” and battle knights one-by-one as you make your way through the game. The game features many elements from classic games, you run, you jump and you can even pogo with your shovel like in Ducktales. Shovel Knight’s basic attack is your standard shovel swipe, but apart from a few magic items that you will collect throughout your adventure, that’s pretty much it. Gets right to the basics of platforming.

How far into it are you now?

Ben:  You’re selling it to me all over again, and I already own it on Steam and 3DS. I’ve had a couple days break now, but I’ve just beat Treasure Knight, and onto the Lost City, to slay Mole knight. I think through all my years of gaming I’ve become addicted to complexity, and Shovel Knight has helped remind me how much I love a good, simple 8-bit platforming adventure.

Chris: Oh, 100% agree, it really speaks to the NES era so well, mainly due to the fact Yatch Club Games would have grown up playing games like Mega Man, Super Mario World and Castlevania. Simple platforming that is easy to understand but difficult to master is just such an amazing genre, which is why we have seen a resurgence lately, specifically with Indie developers. Now I don’t think Shovel Knight is a particularly hard game, definitely not in the vein of some NES titles of yesteryear, but it definitely requires some skill, and the game is fantastic at rewarding you for something you did, and you never feel aggravated by bad mechanics or shoddy controls. If you died, it’s because of you, not the game.

Ben:  I’m definitely tired of the hand holding in modern games.  I could go back and play all those retro games from childhood for hours, it really only seems to be modern games in retro styling that drift past my attention. But Shovel Knight has changed that.  I hear that there will be DLC as well soon?

Plague Knight is look quite fabulous.

Chris: Yep! Plague of Shadows is slated for Q2 2015 and it is completely free. This lets you play as Plague Knight and offers a whole new way to play the game, with different mechanics and collectibles. They also have DLC planned for King Knight, as well as a Super Smash style mode to be added to the game. All of which will be free, quite remarkable.

Ben: This is absolutely perfect, Yacht Club Games really know how to treat their fans. They are creating DLC that adds NEW ways to play the game, not just to extend it, like most DLC, to draw out an inevitable death, all the while milking your wallet dry. With DLC like that, a game can live for ever. But to be honest, I wouldn’t even mind paying for the DLC that Yacht Club is cooking up.

Chris: Yeah I get what you mean, all this is a way for them to thank the fans for backing this project, after all, this was one of the first really successful Kickstarters. We haven’t even spoke about the best bit yet, the music! I personally love the music, it really speaks to me, I get a really big Zelda 2 vibe from it. It’s fantastic.

Ben:  The music is definitely great, I haven’t had the pleasure of playing Zelda 2 yet, but Shovel Knight’s music really immerses me in that delicious 8-Bit universe. Music can be a very overlooked component in a successful game, people don’t realise how important it is until the in-game music sucks, ruining the entire experience. But I suppose the perfect music score accompanies the game, and doesn’t over-shadow it, I would say that if someone asks you how the games music is and you reply with I don’t know, it’s safe to say it’s at least pretty good.

Chris: Well, we wont go into Zelda 2 on this article! I could be here for days. That’s a great point you make about the music, I’ve listened to the soundtrack while at work more times than I can count. What’s left to say about Shovel Knight other than it’s the best damn $20 you’ll ever spend! Would you recommend portable device or big screen Ben? It is available on basically everything right now!

Ben: Shovel Knight is like salt, its good on everything. You cant go wrong with choosing one platform over another. As long as you have a screen, and a controller, and no one around to distract you, shovel knight will own your soul for years to come.

One of the larger enemies you will find in the game, deep within Mole Knight’s Lost City.

Chris: Nice analogy! Salt definitely improves everything and there are no exceptions there. I have had fantastic experiences on my 3DS and my Wii U, but if I had to lean to one side it would be big screen gaming. The high resolution looks amazing on a large screen, and if I were to go even further I would say that this game does lend itself to requiring a precise D-Pad, so I would go with Nintendo’s ever-trusty controllers, or a PS4.

Ben: I agree that multiple console owners should buy the game for their preferred console controller,  but regardless of your rig, you’re going to have a blast playing this game. Make sure to pick it up, or at least get a friend who has it to let you play, and if you don’t have any friends, pick-up a shovel, buy a fridge, throw the fridge in the bin, cut the box the fridge came in into an armour costume, and run down the street.

Chris: Best advice I’ve heard all week. I guess that just about wraps things up here then!

Thanks Ben, it’s been real, it’s been good.

Ben: It just hasn’t been real good.

Almost 1 year old now, but I’m telling you guys, the freshness hasn’t escaped the bag, Shovel Knight is about to be injected with free DLC, and the fresh is only going to get fresher. Make sure you try this game, you wont regret it, don’t let another game slip by just because your unsure. Give it a go, and if you don’t like it, I’ll give you Chris’ credit card details for a full refund. (Don’t worry, he cant hear us).

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