I am long over the novelty of pixel art throwbacks. No more can a game impress me solely by invoking my nostalgia. But Shovel Knight doesn’t just look like a game from the 80s, it plays like one too. This tight, exacting platformer encapsulates all that was great about this early era of video gaming, in an exciting and punishingly difficult new experience.
It is all about the 80s. Spade Knight takes classic elements through games of the era, such as Castlevania 2 is towns and items, Megaman ‘s power-ups plus level structure, and Mario Bros. 3 is world map, to create a brilliant platform adventure .
Taking control of Shovel Knight (who, as the name suggests, uses a shovel as a weapon), you must emerge from retirement to battle the evil Enchantress and her minions in your quest to seal away the Tower system of Fate and rescue the one you love Shield Knight.
Spade Knight does not try to expand about what would have been possible in the period it imitates. Bar auto will save and the ability to render more than two sprites without experiencing slow down, the overall game does nothing a vintage NES title wouldn’t have been in a position to do .
The most noticeable mechanical one of these by-design-restrictions , is that it just uses directional inputs and two buttons to control the action (jump and attack). The other face buttons act as you would expect the old begin and select buttons to (pausing the overall game, and opening menus).
Considering the relative lack of inputs, Spade Knight manages to give you a surprising amount of combat options. Between holding right down to perform downwards strikes from the air flow (allowing you to pogo between enemies ), to holding up and attack to unleash your equipped unique ability , you will find surprising depth in the controls.
Each new skill or item which is introduced gives you more options in how to face the challenges ahead , but some areas demand a very specific approach. The clearest of these is the Forest of Phasing, an area that teaches you how to use the particular invincibility ability. By equipping the particular Phase Locket, a simultaneous touch of the attack and up buttons render Shovel Knight able to run across surges and other danger unfazed for a short time. This area demands that you master your new skill on the move, activating the power at just the right time to land on spikes, pass through attacking birds, plus make it to safety, before its effect wear off. A true trial simply by fire, but one that ensures you might have the skills you need to progress.
If chiptunes be the food associated with love play on
From your very first look Shovel Knight’s designers’ love of their influences are instantly clear. Although it may introduce a few extra colours to each individual screens over the 8-bit grandparents, the overall palate and tone of the world is perfectly selected . This particular joins with stunning sprites plus beautifully detailed backgrounds to create a amazing game world.
The chiptune audio is just as lovingly designed. Each new level and manager fight introduces a blippy new soundtrack to maintain your toes tapping as you play . The music is so good in fact , that I would regularly visit the town to see the bard who would play a tune of my choice from the songs sheets I had collected (one from the game’s collectibles).
I dig it
Digging down into the particular bedrock of gaming history, Shovel Knight pays honor to some of the all-time greats with its beautifully designed platforming and visual style perfectly evoking the target era. Were it made some 30 years ago it would sit alongside these classics comfortably; as it stands it is a reminder of the reason why they were so great.
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