When Yacht Club Games released Shovel Knight on PC, Nintendo 3DS, and Wii U, everyone fell in love with its nostalgic homages to various aspects of 8-bit gaming. Pun intended, Shovel Knight dug into everyone’s hearts with its solid controls and classic platforming. However, Yacht Club Games wasn’t done yet with their new and unique hero. Now everyone who plays on PlayStation platforms can enjoy the title that was argued to be 2014’s best game of the year. They also get to do so with some extra goodies to make the experience even sweeter.
For those who never dug in before, Shovel Knight is a platformer that excels in showcasing the best aspects of the 8-bit gaming generation. There are many obvious influences from classic series like Mega Man, Castlevania, and even Zelda 2 scattered throughout the game. A lot of the little details such as pixel perfect jumping, boss attack patterns, and even a stage select similar to Super Mario Bros 3 all work well together to provide an excellent platformer that would give many modern day titles a run for their money. There’s even a long list of cheat codes that change up some aesthetics and mechanics of the entire game.
The story centers on Shovel Knight defeating a series of enemy knights that are part of the Order of No Quarter. By doing so, Shovel Knight will be able to find the whereabouts of his friend Shield Knight. Yet not everything about the events that unfold are as they seem.
The story is simple yet meshes together very well with the style of gameplay. Each stage is chosen on a world map and is themed to each boss character’s identity. Mole Knight rules over a stage deep underground, King Knight has a giant castle, and even Treasure Knight has a domain underwater in a sunken ship.
The controls are as incredibly responsive as you’d expect. You can’t have a solid platforming game without solid controls to traverse the levels with, after all. From the very beginning, going through each area in Shovel Knight is a challenging, yet fair, pleasure that everyone who has played an NES game will appreciate. The game never feels unfairly difficult or too easy, which is a fantastic accomplishment.
To aid Shovel Knight on his quest, players can use various relics that open up different powers to wield against enemies, which use a magic meter at the top of the screen. It’s similar to taking all of the items from the original Castlevania NES trilogy of games, and cranking their usefulness and variety up to max level.
Moving from one screen to the next has the classic Mega Man style scrolling that builds up anticipation for what lies ahead of you. Exploration is definitely encouraged rather than just playing straight through a level from start to finish. There are a ton of secrets hidden in every level that will provide all kinds of rewards should you take the time to reach them. There are even a few secrets on the world map that old school gamers will love for the attention to detail.
Unlike the original releases of the game, Shovel Knight on PlayStation platforms has a few extra surprises. An extra wandering boss fight with God of War’s Kratos is exclusive to the game on PlayStation Vita, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation 3. The fight itself is unique because of the multi-tiered nature of the battle where just when you think it’s over, things change up and the fight continues. It’s a fun extra challenge that keeps in line with everything already established in the game, but has a great payoff that adds to the already fun experience. The game has cross-buy and cross-save functionality through the cloud from PlayStation Plus, allowing you to enjoy Shovel Knight on any of the three PlayStation consoles. Playing Shovel Knight on PlayStation 3 or PlayStation 4 is enjoyable, but the optimal platform for this game is on the PlayStation Vita, because of its portability.
If you missed out and didn’t pick up Shovel Knight before on other platforms, now you have no excuse to miss out again. The game blends together everything that gamers had loved from the past and refines them to perfection for the modern age. The exclusive content for PlayStation gamers is great, and with free new DLC available, fans have an excuse to dig into this adventure one more time.
Shovel Knight is hands down one of the best original platforming games to come out in recent years and definitely worth playing through again.
This review was based on a digital copy of Shovel Knight for the PlayStation Vita provided by Yacht Club Games.