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Games : Highly Recommended
Release Date: June 26th, 2014 Movie Release Year: 2014

Shovel Knight

Overview -

Not long ago, several developers at Wayforward Technologies left and formed Yacht Club Games.  Their first project, 'Shovel Knight' burned up Kickstarter, and fans having been waiting for the release on the Wii U and PC, ever since. 'Shovel Knight' isn't so much 8-bit-inspired as it is 8-bit envious. Either way, it's never too late for pixel art, chiptunes and an altruistic hero with a shovel as his sword. As he bounces his way across traditional 2D platforming challenges and towards the inevitable boss, the game strives for a place among both the old and the new. The indie game sphere is becoming crowded. Is there room left for loving impersonation?

Highly Recommended
Rating Breakdown
Tech Specs & Release Details
Release Date:
June 26th, 2014

Video Review


Until release, 'Shovel Knight' existed in the public eye as an 8-bit knockoff title with some intriguing charm. It's not a knockoff, though, it's a wonderfully realized pixel art game, that nuanced medium efficiently and valiantly exposed for its untapped potential. Any level that initially seems archetypical eventually opens up into its own. A sorcerer's Exploratorium is a volatile laboratory. The Stranded Ship, which houses one of Shovel Knight's past allies-turned boss fight, represents the ice-level. Pridemoor Keep is the classic castle with a greedy twist, perfect for a gem-shoveling knight.

Despite the charm, though, and desire the break away from expectation, there is an inescapable sense of borrowed craft here, which plays for and against 'Shovel Knight.' Still maintaining its driving goal, to emulate the NES, there's got to be more than knights and sorcerers adventuring out there. I'd say that limitation might be one of those endearing qualities of video games' past, but a plumber has been traversing the goomba-filled Mushroom Kingdom for quite some time.

Audio Review


Speaking of untapped potential, the chiptunes of 'Shovel Knight' are, simply put, the best I've ever heard. They're deep, reaching this baseline level of listening enjoyment that so few chiptunes can break into. They're songs I actually want to listen to outside of the game, which is a rare category for even non-chiptune scores. Were 'Shovel Knight' actually released in the NES era, we'd be recalling it for its music above anything else, which is saying a lot, considering how well the gameplay turned out. It's tough to describe just how simultaneously epic and thematically identifiable every single song turns out to be. There, that's about the best I can do. Sometimes I keep this section short because there's not much too say. This is the opposite of that. There's too much to hear.

Final Thoughts

There's something to be said for NES games as this opening salvo of video game greatness. It hasn't been said yet, we've sort of been trucking along at lighting-fast pace ever since. 'Shovel Knight' doesn't say it, not out loud, but its extreme faithfulness to those original qualities and quirks, all just a perimeter to a wonderfully epic little game, somehow emulate the feeling of greatness, the feeling of pureness, the feeling of newness and, for a sucker like me, the feeling of joy in just two buttons and a hero at your fingertips.