Old is New Again
Shovel Knight is a love letter to games of yesterday. However, rather than be a re-skinned nostalgia trip, Shovel Knight marries the best of both classic games and modern experiences. Shovel Knight feels very much like a Mix between Mega Man and Ducktales, with a Level Map reminiscent of Super Mario Bros. 3. It also brings in modern influences – like a leaving money at the spot of your death that must be recollected, and deeper, more original storytelling. All of this comes together to make Shovel Knight a hit with both newer and older gamers alike.
For release on the Nintendo Switch, Yacht Club games offers both Shovel Knight Treasure Trove edition and the standalone Specter of Torment. This review is for Treasure Trove, which retails for $24.99. It includes the Shovel of Hope campaign (a renaming of the original game), The Plague of Shadows campaign, and the brand new Specter of Torment campaign. If you’ve already played and had your fill of the original games, you can choose to purchase the new Specter of Torment campaign by itself for only $9.99.
Gameplay is King
The reason that games like Super Mario Bros. 3 and Mega Man 2 and 3 are still beloved today is because they controlled masterfully. This is probably the thing that matters most in a game like Shovel Knight, and Yacht Club Games absolutely nails it. Controls are tight and responsive, and always feel like the player is in complete control. Each character also has specific abilities which add a layer of depth and strategy to the different campaigns in Shovel Knight. This allows the same level to be completed differently depending on which character is being used. Shovel Knight, for example, is very similar to Scrooge McDuck, where he “pogos” on objects and enemies to reach specific areas. Plague Knight, on the other hand, has a burst jump that allows him to propel himself forward through levels. Finally, Specter Knight has the ability to dash off of objects and enemies into specific directions. Each one plays a slightly different, and yet, they all feel perfect.
Treasure Trove gives you 3 playable characters, each with their own campaign, with the promise of King Knight as free DLC to be released in 2017. That is 4 Characters and 4 Campaigns – all for $25. Of the bunch, Specter Knight really seems to be the highlight. I do love Shovel Knight (he was the one that started it all), but what Yacht Club did with the latest release is so good. I think Specter’s design is really great, he has a scythe (which is always awesome), and his dashing ability is the best in the game, by far. If this is the quality of new content we will see in the future, then I hope Yacht Club never stops making more.
Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove is both a great game and a great value. The game can be very punishing at times, and if you are not a fan of old school platformers, then this might not be a game for you. However, I think there are very few people who couldn’t find something to love about in Shovel Knight. From the multiple campaigns and characters, to the body swap option (which let’s you turn Shovel Knight into a female), to the promised DLC coming, such as King Knight and Battle mode, there is something here for everyone. In a launch that is dominated by a juggernaut like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Shovel Knight might just be the second best game available right now!
Final Score: 4.5/5