I’ve been dying to find a game that plays like an NES Mega Man for quite some time now and the universe has bestowed one upon us. It’s called Shovel Knight, and it looks spectacular. How I just discovered it now its beyond me, but I am excited nonetheless. You play as Shovel Knight, and you probably guessed this, but you use a shovel as your weapon. But, it’s not just that. The shovel also serves as a tool to dig up treasure and can also be used as a pogo stick! Put this in a Mega Man-style platformer game set in a NES Castlevania-esque world, add some witty charm, and you get Shovel Knight, this week’s Indie Awareness title.
Shovel Knight is on a quest to save his beloved, but to do so, he has to battle the Enchantress and her Order of No Quarter. The Order is made up of a group of 8 real bad dudes, such as the Propeller Knight, Mole Knight, and Plague Knight. Your job is to beat them up, obviously. You will of course, get new subweapons and unlock secrets on the way, and each member of the Order has their own themed level as well. Those looking for games like the glory days of the Blue Bomber, look no further than Shovel Knight.
Yacht Club Games is developing the game, which had an incredibly successful Kickstarter campaign, not only meeting their initial goal, but all of the stretch goals as well. The studio is made up of past members of Wayfoward, a talented crew who have had their hands in games such as Contra 4, A Boy and His Blob, BloodRayne: Betrayal, and most recently, Double Dragon Neon. They’ve all come together to make a game that calls us back to the old days, and Shovel Knight truly fits that description.
The pixel art is top notch. The colors and level design really make it look authentic, while still breathing a fairly unique life into it. Character animations are smooth while still looking the part. All of this is complimented by a true 8-bit soundtrack composed by Jake “Virt” Kaufman. The level design is clever, including the enemies and obstacles. As the Shovel Knight, you will be defeating foes who have a wide range of attacks. Enemy knights armed with a sword and shield will catch on to your attack style, and block from above or in front accordingly. Wizards shoot fireballs, tiny lancers will lunge toward you, and there are giant fire-breathing griffins. There’s even flying enemies in the form of a helicoptering rodent, which if you attack correctly, could send you bouncing higher to reach certain areas. Of course, at the end of each level you will have to defeat a member of the Order, who will use a wide array of devastating attacks to take you down. Using your shovel, you will move through various obstacles by destroying them, or using your pogo-shovel to get across disappearing platforms. With the gameplay, art, music, and charm that Yacht Club Games has put into Shovel Knight, we get a fresh look on a Mega Man-esque game that will hopefully have us playing and replaying time and again.
In April, the game was successfully funded, and as mentioned above, even blew past their stretch goals, hopefully ensuring we get the most out of Shovel Knight as we possibly can. Some of these extra features include New Game+, Gender Swap mode, achievements, Mac and Linux versions, playable boss knights, and a 4-player battle mode, complete with all bosses included. Yacht Club Games has got me hook, line, sinker with all of these extras. 4-player battle mode will be a co-op same screen experience, including racing and a battle-royale. Players will be able to choose from various knights and bosses in multiplayer.
Thanks to the stretch goals being reached, not only are we seeing a PC, Mac and Linux version, but it’s also coming out on Wii U and 3DS. Shovel Knight fits right in with Nintendo, and a small clip was even shown during the Nintendo Direct E3 video this morning. Playing on a console will certainly enhance the multiplayer mode, and feel right at home on the Wii U. 3DS multiplayer is not promised unfortunately, as the developers have stated that it is a strictly co-op experience, and the 3DS only uses wi-fi.
Shovel Knight takes the best parts of energetic platforming, mixes it with incredible and authentic pixel art, as well as a true 8-bit soundtrack, and puts it all together to offer us a game that looks too fun to pass up. Speaking of the soundtrack, did I forget to mention that original Mega Man composer, Manami Matsumae, will also be composing two songs for it? Oops. Do you need any other reason to be interested in this game? I don’t. I can’t wait to get my hands on Shovel Knight and experience it in all it’s classic NES glory.
No official release date has been given, but Shovel Knight is slated for winter of 2013.