The magic of the 8-bit era is about to return with authority this fall. On March 14th, Yacht Club Games announced its Kickstarter campaign to fund its debut classic-style sidescroller, Shovel Knight, which the company describes as “a groundbreaking love letter to 8 bits!” You take control of the Shovel Knight, whose weapon for killing doubles as his weapon of everyday survival. Wielding the ShovelBlade, he uses it as both his offense and defense, able to slay colossal bad guys and deflect their attacks with equal finesse. Not to mention it digs quite well.
All the NES love you can handle rolled up into this one screen.
The story sees the title character setting out on a quest to vanquish his mortal nemesis, The Enchantress, who employs a robust rogue’s gallery of enemy boss characters called The Order of No Quarter to seize control of the sprawling kingdom. Of particular danger to the Shovel Knight his is archenemy the Polar Knight, a hulking brute of a warrior who carries a large snow pusher across his back ready to take a swing at his old foe’s head. Yacht Club Games describes the character as “Sabertooth to Shovel Knight’s Wolverine.”
If the map screens of Castlevania III and Mega Man married and had the perfect child.
Shovel Knight is a nostalgic mash-up of different 2d action tropes thrown into what appears to be a perfectly blended schema with a few new tricks up its sleeve. Taking cues from beloved classics such as Castlevania, DuckTales, and Mega Man, you deflect, bounce, slash, and dig your way through a number of beautiful levels that feature elements that require those techniques to overcome. The bouncing mechanic is wonderfully reminiscent of Uncle Scrooge’s ability to use his cane as a weapon and pogo stick in DuckTales. Digging with the shovel allows you to break apart walls, shift objects into place, and dig up helpful items ala Castlevania, though no word yet on whether we will be finding any roast chicken waiting in a dirt pile (please may it be so). The level design and rich color palette, coupled with a fat bag of obstacles and diverse layouts give us a hearty hello from the eighties courtesy of Mega Man’s time-tested gameplay features.
Purchase item upgrades to give your Knight the edge. Yeah, I really just said that…
Continuing to mash the nostalgia button for us full force, one of the backer rewards offered by Yacht Club is an authentically styled instruction booklet straight from the days of the NES. With all the legacy goodness wrapped up in such a wonderful childhood package, it would appear that Yacht Club’s love of the 8-bit dream is their goal for a new generation of gamers. Other rewards offered in their Kickstarter campaign are the standard free copy for $15, a copy of the instruction booklet and PDF coffee table book for $50, the opportunity to sit in on design meetings in Google Hangouts for $75, and if you’re a true believer in the Shovel Knight, for $5,000 you can have a real Yacht Party with the Yacht Party Games crew plus all previous rewards.
Admit it. This was your favorite part of the ride home.
Looking to dig its way into our hearts this September on the PC, 3DS, and Wii, Shovel Knight will undoubtedly be etched into the hearts of gamers old and new alike. Stay tuned to Gameverse for more coverage as it develops. Until that time, as the Shovel Knight would say, Slash Mercilessly and Dig Tirelessly!