Shovel Knight Preview: So Many Callbacks, So Much Love

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shovel knight
A lot has been made of Shovel Knight, a Kickstarter gone right. Yacht Club Games not only successfully pitched the kind of throwback title people have been dreaming about, but did so in such a way that supporters pledged enough to ensure this indie is coming to the 3DS, Wii U, and PC. Frankly, it has a lot to live up to and there are many expectations. Yet, the one thing I didn’t expect during my initial Shovel Knight encounter was how often it would remind me of DuckTales.

Yes, you read that right. Instead of immediately coming to Mega Man conclusions during the first two levels of Shovel Knight, I was experiencing shades of Scrooge McDuck’s most famous outing. It wasn’t just because one of the titular Shovel Knight’s most useful attacks is jumping and using the shovel to “pogo” off of enemies and environmental objects. Stylistically, it reminded me of the tale. From the way the Shovel Knight moves with his cane and digs into dirt, to even the presentation and level design. (I may even have “pogo”-ed my way into a secret area.)

Yet, it wasn’t just shades of DuckTales coming through in Shovel Knight. There are healthy doses of so many other games. The scene after the first level, where Shovel Knight is sitting beside a fire and dreaming of catching a falling Shield Knight, reminded me of the campfire scenes in Golden Axe in terms of presentation. The side-scrolling village brought me back to Zelda II: The Adventures of Link‘s hamlets. The ability to acquire extra relics and items felt like callbacks to Castlevania and The Legend of Zelda. Of course, the map layout, with the freedom to challenge certain knights as one pleases and earning abilities by besting foes, brought Mega Man to mind.

It’s intriguing. I don’t know about you, but when I first heard the Shovel Knight pitch, I expected a retro-fabulous game that called to mind gameplay elements from Mega Man and Castlevania. I didn’t expect a love song to all the NES games I loved in my youth. Yet, that’s what I’ve found so far. It’s like this isn’t just a game, but Yacht Club Games’ way of letting players know about all of the titles they’ve loved before in a very original way.

I’ll leave things at that for now. Shovel Knight will be released on June 26, 2014, and be sure to return to GamerTell that day to read all about my experiences with the 3DS’ incarnation.

Site [Shovel Knight]

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