Shovel Knight (PS4/PS Vita Review)


Nostalgia. Retro. Old-school. All of these terms can be used to describe Shovel Knight from Yacht Club Games. Less than a year after its PC and Nintendo release, the knight joins the PlayStation family. Is he a welcome addition? Simply put, yes.

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Shovel Knight

Shovel Knight is designed to look like old-school games that you played in the late 80’s or early 90’s. It’s blocky style graphics are crisp and clear, and its audio tracks are created completely with 8-bit sound. In my first couple hours with the game, I easily picked up some of the games that the team drew inspiration from including Mega Man 2 and Zelda II: Adventures of Link.

Shovel Knight features an overworld map similar to that of Super Mario Bros. 3, towns like those found in Zelda 2, and level design inspired by the Mega Man series. The music is completely original, but familiar all the same time with those classic NES sounds. You can visit a town anytime from the map, or sometimes special items/battles will appear that you can access for a chance at extra gems or an item.

Levels themselves offer checkpoints in the form of a crystal ball pedestal that, once touched, lights up and seamlessly creates a checkpoint in case you die. When you die, a percentage of your loot/currency will be dispersed in three floating ‘sacs’ of some sort, and you can attempt to grab them and regain it all before dying again. Unfortunately, there are times when you die over a bottomless pit the bags will be there, but they’re impossible to get. Suck it up, move on.

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Shovel Knight

Enemy design is just wonderful in Shovel Knight. From the smallest blob-like enemies to the games’ bosses, they’re all quite impressive and fun. Some enemies take a little more work than others to take down, and it’s usually a matter of skill rather than luck with is something I really appreciate in games these days. Boss battles are more often the real challenge since they tend to have a lot more health than you, but with practice you’ll be able to take them down eventually.

You can earn health and magic upgrading through the acquisition of meal tickets and mana potions which are typically purchased, with the price increasing substantially with each upgrade. Your mana potions are used to power your ‘relics’ which can be classified as weapons or items… a fishing rod for example.

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Shovel Knight

Exclusive to the PlayStation platform is the cross-save functionality, allowing players to quickly and easily upload their save file to the cloud, and continue where they left off when they grab their other system. This is exactly the type of game I love to play on my PS Vita when I’m on a quick bus ride, so cross-save (and cross-buy… by the way) is a big plus in my books.

Shovel Knight is a mixture of all the best retro games, with the seamlessness quality that we’ve come to expect in this day and age. If you haven’t played it, you really should. Whether you’re a young gamer, or you’re from the NES/SNES era, Shovel Knight is sure to offer you a great time.


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