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Shovel Knight Review

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On 07/23/2014 at 12:00 PM by Phil DiMola

Yacht Club Games kickstarts an instant classic.

A must-buy for everyone.

When you think of side-scrolling platformers, it’s hard not to recall old-school classics like Donkey Kong, Super Mario Brothers, and Mega Man. Shovel Knight, a modern day 8-bit 2D side-scrolling platformer, feels like a blast from the past. After an incredibly successful Kickstarter campaign, Yacht Club Games’ first release is a grand slam.  

This quirky game follows Shovel Knight in his quest to free his comrade, Shield Knight, from the Tower of Fate. In a previous quest, a cursed amulet sealed Shield Knight in the Tower of Fate, causing Shovel Knight to spiral into depression. Consequently, The Enchantress and her Order of No Quarter conquered the land. Throughout his journey, Shovel Knight must battle the various members of the Order of No Quarter, climb the Tower of Fate, defeat the evil Enchantress and rescue Shield Knight from the sealed Tower of Fate.

The level of difficulty of this game actually surprised me. Just like old-school platformers, there are some frustrating obstacles that take a few deaths to figure out. Some of the bosses were quite challenging and the levels required a little bit of puzzle solving. The controls are extremely responsive and easy to use, although there are times when you must quickly switch between your sword and your “relics” in order to progress through the level. The default controls felt a little backwards, but they can be changed in the game options menu.

The other aspects of the game are also spectacular. The art and design is beautiful. The bosses and other characters are creative. The 3DS version utilizes the 3D functionality by making the game world pop out from the backdrop. The dialogue is quirky and a little outlandish, but adds an additional layer of fun to the story.

Shovel Knight’s primary weapon of choice is his trusty shovel which can be used to either slash enemies or jump on top of them. In addition, he has various relics that can be used to assist him in overcoming the obstacles in his path. For example, a Flare Wand can be used to shoot fireballs at enemies, the Propeller Dagger can help Shovel Knight fly short distances, and the Dust Knuckles can be used to punch through multiple sand blocks. These relics are either collected throughout the various levels from special blue treasure chests or purchased from town merchants with gems collected from each level. In addition to relics, magic, health, armor and weapon upgrades are also available for purchase.

It’s a highly addictive experience and perfect for any gamer looking for a quick gaming fix. Each level consists of various check points, a mini boss and a boss and takes about 15 minutes to complete (depending on how often you die). When you die, you’ll lose a percentage of your treasure, but any lost loot appears in floating bags at the location which you died, making it possible to recollect it all. One frustrating part about this is that the bags are not always obtainable. For super competitive people who don’t like losing their hard earned cash, this leads to frequent games resets.

Aside from the regular levels in each area, there are special bonus levels which require certain relics to complete. Additionally, similar to Super Mario Bros. 3, various enemies or bonus blocks appear and move about the map after you complete a level.

Review Policy

In our reviews, we'll try not to bore you with minutiae of a game. Instead, we'll outline what makes the game good or bad, and focus on telling you whether or not it is worth your time as opposed to what button makes you jump.

We use a five-star rating system with intervals of .5. Below is an outline of what each score generally means:

All games that receive this score are standout games in their genre. All players should seek a way to play this game. While the score doesn't equate to perfection, it's the best any game could conceivably do.

These are above-average games that most players should consider purchasing. Nearly everyone will enjoy the game and given the proper audience, some may even love these games.

This is our middle-of-the-road ranking. Titles that receive three stars may not make a strong impression on the reviewer in either direction. These games may have some faults and some strong points but they average out to be a modest title that is at least worthy of rental for most.

Games that are awarded two stars are below average titles. Good ideas may be present, but execution is poor and many issues hinder the experience.

Though functional, a game that receives this score has major issues. There are little to no redeeming qualities and should be avoided by nearly all players.

A game that gets this score is fundamentally broken and should be avoided by everyone.




07/23/2014 at 04:23 PM

looks like a good time.  How much is it for PC?  

Matt Snee Staff Writer

07/23/2014 at 09:49 PM

i think it's $14.99.  But I think it's that price universally.  From what I understand, it's worth it.  


07/23/2014 at 09:55 PM

ill check it out for sure.

Our Take

Jon Lewis Staff Writer

07/23/2014 at 09:16 PM

Loved this game. The gameplay is tight, the levels are challenging, but rewarding to complete. The music is fantastic, and overall its a good value. I played it on 3DS and it was great for on the go. Definitely recommend this one to those who want a fun, retro inspired gaming experience. 


07/23/2014 at 11:12 PM

I agree with these statements.  I will add that I thought that the challenge in the levels was never unfair.  If I died, it was usually because of my incompetence, not because it was poorly designed.

Cary Woodham

07/24/2014 at 07:57 AM

This is a very good game.  Only problem I had was it was pretty hard.  But the music is really GOOD!  Yacht Club should make the next Mega Man game.


07/26/2014 at 10:07 PM

I was so happy when they finally realsed it. Been watching my kickstarter feed since I backed the game. Was pleased it was as good as I thought it was going to be. Granted it has brought back the painful realization at how horrible I am at these types of games haha. I think what surprised me the most was the over world map, for some reason was not expecting it to be something like that. I honestly thought it was going to be more of a Zelda 2 like world map.

I am about half way done with it but great game and great review!


07/28/2014 at 08:26 PM

I enjoyed this title alot but sadly im aweful at the game. Last I played it I was stuck on Specter lame,lol.

Justin Matkowski Staff Alumnus

07/29/2014 at 04:51 PM

I CANNOT WAIT to dig into this game! I've heard so many good things about it, and I absolutely love how builds upon a foundation laid by so many incredible retro titles. 

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