Quick Review: Shovel Knight (Wii U)

Shovel Knight 
Nintendo Wii U
Publisher: Yacht Club Games
Developer: Yacht Club Games
Release: June 26, 2014

Upon first look, Shovel Knight just appears to be just another indie title with a retro 8bit graphic look.  This year alone there have been an insane amount of retro style games released and Shovel Knight at first doesn't seem to be any different.  To its credit however, Shovel Knight proves to be an excellent Action Adventure game akin to many of the NES greats like Faxanadu, Zelda 2, Kirby's Adventure and Battle of Olympus.  Shovel Knight barrows much from these games and runs with it making it a diamond in the rough among a sea of indie shovelware.

Needless to say, as an indie retro themed game, Shovel Knight looks fantastic.  The colors and level backgrounds look gorgeous and fit perfectly with the game's theme.  I enjoy going through a stage multiple times like air castle stage just to enjoy the setting sun backdrop. Other places like the world map and the towns are pleasant to the eyes as well.  The sprites look great and are nicely detailed in their 8bit looks.  The bosses are exceptional and look very intimidating.

The gameplay is very fast paced by easy to get a grasp on right from the get go.  You can easily start pulling of well timed jumps and booster jumps from a downward attack.  As you progress farther, there are lots of upgrade-able items to acquire ranging from increasing health and magic, to upgrading armor and weapon attacks.  Thanks to the amount of gold that you ca collect throughout the game it's very easy to acquire all of these components and never feel like you are making a forced decision on a purchase.

The stages come in a huge variety of themed levels, each a unique feature to them.  There's an Ice level with lots of icy terrain forcing you to watch your step. There's also an Air castle stage with strong winds that blows you all over there place.  Finally there's a submarine level with water in several areas slowing your falling speed but also giving you dangerously higher jumps near spiked areas.  Needless to say, the game will kill you multiple times and force you to learn on your feet.

Speaking of death, nothing drives me more crazy than the potential death tax this game incurs.  If you fall or die upon depleting you life, you will lose a good chunk of your gold.  They will float around the area of your death waiting to be recovered.  However, there are times where it's unrecoverable due to times when you fall to your death in an abyss or hitting a spiked floor.  Some items you gain as you play can help but other times it's frustrating knowing you can't recover thousands of gold pieces.

The music is the best part of Shovel Knight hands down.  I love all the music from the main menu song, to each levels upbeat and fast paced theme.  It fits the pace of the game and matches perfectly with all the on screen craziness that is thrown at you in Shovel Knight.

Unfortunately there are a couple of issues with Shovel knight.  The first is that its a very short game.  The world map doesn't have that many stages and can easily be cleared in a matter of hours.  The other issues is that once you beat Shovel Knight, there is no reason to go back to it other than to acquire all the in game achievements.  I wish there was actually more to the game than an increased difficulty setting and achievements.

Issues aside, I found Shovel Knight to be an amazingly fun game with lots of personality and style.  The graphics are great even if the indie game scene is now flooded with retro graphic look games.  The music is some of the best 8bit sound beats I have ever heard and the gameplay is highly addicting making it hard to put the controller down.  If you need a new game, then Shovel Knight should most definitely be a must purchase.

Quick Review Score: A-

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