Our next podcast recording (23.6.18) - 325: Shovel Knight

This is where you'll find threads specific to the games we're covering in Volume Six
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Our next podcast recording (23.6.18) - 325: Shovel Knight

Post by JaySevenZero » December 31st, 2017, 4:16 pm

Here's where you can leave your thoughts regarding Shovel Knight for possible inclusion in the podcast when it's recorded.

NB: This show will just focus on the original 'vanilla' game, pre-dlc.
All the extra content will be covered in a future podcast.

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Re: 325: Shovel Knight

Post by xbenblasterx » May 5th, 2018, 6:47 am

Being of an age where i am to young to have experienced the 8 & 16 bit eras on their first go round, i have really enjoyed the current trend in reviving those 16bit days, and of of the many games released baring those chunky pixels, Shovel Knight is one of the best.

Visually Shovel Knight is Impressive and charming. The enviroments are varied and interesting which is needed as there are more than a few sections in this game where the dificulty started to get the better of me, boy this game is tough. Tough in a fair way, a way inwhich if you die its never the games fault only the fault of me and fumbling hands at the controls. I'm not usually a fan of platformers of any kind, to be so taken in by Shovel Knight a frustratingly difficult 2D platformer from a bygone era, is a true testament to the quality and hard work Yacht Club games put into making Shovel Knight.

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Re: 325: Shovel Knight

Post by TheProf » May 5th, 2018, 5:06 pm

I picked this game up on Wii U recently and gave it a shot. What I learned from this experience is...there are some games that just aren't for me. Despite being a big fan of platformers I just didn't have the patience to 'git gud' with Shovel Knight. Something about the mechanics just didn't sit right with me and I couldn't get into that wonderful groove that you sometimes find yourself in when playing a platformer, where you move at top speed and can seem to do no wrong.

The visuals, while charming, didn't have any particular nostalgic effect on me. I found the loot system very frustrating - if you die you lose loot which floats in place allowing you to potentially pick it up. However there is risk reward as it may be in a dangerous place. I often died, then didn't try to retrieve the loot because it could mean dying again, then got to the end of the level with nothing to show for it. This meant I couldn't buy upgrades, making the game harder for me - the very person who needed the upgrades the most because I was a bad player. This seemed like a cruel cycle which benefited the best players by making the game easier for them, while punishing the worst players. Somewhat counterintuitive I would suggest.

Anyway, it is likely that I'm just bitter about being bad at this game. I would still recommend it because I think there is a lot of good there, it just wasn't for me!

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Re: 325: Shovel Knight

Post by shadowless_kick » May 7th, 2018, 12:13 pm

Shovel Knight was one of the first games I played when I got a PS4 after years and console generations spent away from gaming. Unfortunately, I found the concept and aesthetic more appealing than the game itself. Something about the way the character moved and attacked seemed slightly off to me, but it wasn't an insurmountable issue. The difficulty, however, turned out to be more of a problem. There's challenging, and then there's frustrating, and Shovel Knight hit the latter on far too many occasions. Upon clearing some boss battles after numerous failed attempts, I felt that I had merely gotten lucky, and that my pattern recognition and dexterity really had nothing to do with my victory. It eventually got to the point where I was playing simply to beat the game so I could move on to another.

It wasn't all bad, though. I enjoyed the characters, the music and the game's sense of humor. Little touches like the Troupple King's dance routine and surprise appearances by Chester the Relic guy were fun and helped alleviate the frustration I often felt. (So did imagining the Shovel Knight speaking with a pronounced lisp, which is how I heard him in my head.)

Since beating it, I've downloaded the additional DLC campaigns and perhaps I'll give 'em a whirl sometime when I'm in the mood to punish myself. As it stands now, I primarily appreciate Shovel Knight for being one of the titles that helped lure me back into gaming, even if the actual experience wasn't quite what I was hoping for.

3-word review: "Aww, come on!"

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Re: 325: Shovel Knight

Post by Steve Arran » May 15th, 2018, 11:38 am

Hand on heart, I love this game. It was the first retro style game I downloaded for my PS4 which made me feel like I was a kid again; scooched up next to my TV in my PJs, playing what for all intents and purposes might be a Mega Man or Super Mario clone. Albeit a clone who wears fetching blue armour and wields a pretty deadly garden implement.

I think my fondness for this title comes from two things, and surprisingly it’s not really from the gameplay. The mechanics are nice and tight and ricocheting off a member of the Order of No Quarter will never NOT be satisfying. Also the initial difficulty is pleasantly curved, though new game plus can boarder on frustrating at times. I do like a challenge, and with stages that directly reference the likes of Ghouls n Ghosts it’s not surprising that some moments can be agreeably taxing. That being said, for me most of the pleasure of Shovel Knight comes from appreciating the aesthetics.

The exterior backgrounds in this game are absolutely astonishing. From your first glimpses of the distant tower through the darkened trees in the opening level, right up to the neon green thunderstorm you battle through in the penultimate stage; they never cease to be anything less than brilliant. The developers have managed to generate so much atmosphere with such a limited colour palette; I could practically feel the cold dawn chill in which our plucky Hero awakes at his camp site. So impressive for something so arguably primitive! Personal highlights have to be the vivid yellow sunset which bursts onto screen when you reach the highest point of the Flying Machine stage, as well as the aforementioned acid green rainstorm which lashes down on the battlements of the Tower Of Fate. However, for me the achievements of the background art almost pale in comparison to the success of the soundtrack.

The music in the opening stage of this game told me everything I needed to know about what was to come; namely that I was going to have a damn good time. I can’t remember such a joyous and driven musical score since Mega Man, an influence which the game obviously wears prominently on its sleeve. Jake Kaufman deserves awards for ‘Strike The Earth!’ alone, but the bubbly almost ‘Under the Sea’ tones of the Iron Whale stage also manage to create such a gleeful experience that I often wanted to continue playing just to listen to the music.

Of course it’s not all great. The general enemy design is pretty forgettable, though each boss dose have a very distinct visual style. They are each a little easy to defeat on vanilla difficulty, but I’ll never not love smashing King Knights stupid bucket head in. Also I do have a soft spot for Chester the relic seller who kind of reminds of a a blue pixelated version of The Predator.

All in all I think Shovel Knight is throwback gaming done right. The story’s simplistic- though surprisingly touching- and the mechanics are sharp. But it managed to transport me into a gorgeous world using just a few colours and very limited graphics. Getting all the trophies may prove a bit of an ask, but I’m always down for a challenge.

Three word review: Retro Gaming Crack.

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Re: Our next podcast recording (23.6.18) - 325: Shovel Knight

Post by Mr Ixolite » June 17th, 2018, 10:08 pm

Full disclosure: As someone who considers platformers his favorite genre and Megaman his favourite franchise, I was probably the easiest lay possible for Shovel Knight. Even so, I could’ve never predicted just how much I’d grow to love this game, which stands as one of my all-time favorites.

Firstly, the game has pitch perfect level design. Every stage is unique, and serves up escalating and varied challenges perfectly matching the level theme. The game constantly throws new things at you, and yet whenever I died I blamed myself, not the game. Don’t get me wrong, Shovel Knight frequently made me swear like a sailor, but the controls are so good that I knew I just had to practice and stay focused to prevail.

Plus, while the game is certainly challenging, there are a great many opportunities for the player to tailor their own difficulty. Theres’ hidden music sheets and breakable check points for added challenge, but theres’ also Ichors, meal tickets, unlimited lives, defense boosting armor, and relics that can make certain bosses a cakewalk – the chaos orbs in particular seems pretty overpowered. I personally found myself deliberately avoiding such assistance as much as possible in my first playthrough, no doubt out of a stubborn, Megaman-inspired desire for purity. But then in new game plus, I needed to utilize every feature available to eke out a win in the Battle Royale. In that way, I got two radically different experiences out of the game.

And that’s before we even talk about the expansions.

While both Plaugue of Shadows and Specter of Torment reuse a ton of assets, both still feel like completely new experiences. Plague Knight has the least amount of new content, yet his flexible playstyle more than makes up for it. Its probably possible to get through the campaign using only the most rudimentary bomb setup, yet I found myself constantly fiddling with fuses and cases to find the optimal solution to a given problem. It makes for a radically different paced game, yet no less enjoyable.
Specter Knight is more traditional in his controls and some of his curios are quite broken, yet theres no denying the thrill of zipping through completely revamped levels and bosses. I also have to give a shout out to the games new Body Swap mode. In an industry that can oftentimes come across as regressive, its nice to see something so inclusive presented so matter-of-factly. I realize Shovel Knight might not be the toughest game to implement the system in, but the degree of gender customizability still felt groundbreaking, provided yet more replayability to the game.
As it currently stands, Shovel Knight is possibly my most-value-for-money gaming purchase ever, and has ruined my view of contemporary game publishing practices. How come everything else seems so greedy and customer unfriendly, when this scrappy indie game gives me three free expansions out of complete goodwill?

So, gameplay and content-wise, the game is pretty dang great. But what elevates it even further, is wrapping everything in an incredibly appealing presentation. Of course such things are subjective, but to me the world of Shovel Knight is simply a joy. This obviously includes the colorful environments, the well designed characters and the fantastic music, but also the overall tone of the game. This is a world where you’ll bomb at comedy before a grumpy toad, where every villain gets amusing closure during the credits, where the Troupple King exists, and where you can do pogo jumps on Kratos’ head.

And to top it all off, the game also managed to hook me emotionally, without me even noticing. The overall plot is simple yet charmingly presented, but the game completely sells me the most important thing: the relationship between Shovel Knight and Shield Knight. By tying her into the gameplay, both at the campfires and later on, she becomes more than an abstract goal. And so when I beat the game for the first time, I remember feeling mortified, then tensing up throughout the credits, and then breathing a cathartic sigh of relief at the final shot. That’s when I knew Shovel Knight was not just a collection of fun platforming challenges, but something truly special.

Some may criticize Shovel Knight for not having enough ideas of its own, borrowing from games ranging from Super Mario Bros 3 to Dark Souls. But I find that Shovel Knight syntheses several decades worth of gaming innovation into a cohesive, unique experience, that stands as the platonic ideal of a 2D platformer. I can’t wait to see what Yacht Club games cooks up with King of Cards and beyond.

3 word review: STRIKE THE EARTH!

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Re: Our next podcast recording (23.6.18) - 325: Shovel Knight

Post by Magical_Isopod » June 17th, 2018, 10:51 pm

Shovel Knight is one of the best NES games ever made, but therein lies the catch. I want to love Shovel Knight - I see the clear love and care they've put into crafting this game, and within the constraints of the type of game they were aiming to make it looks great.

Only one issue.

I simply do not enjoy NES games. My gaming "career" starts with the Sega Genesis, and with the exception of the TG-16 and certain arcade titles, I have a really difficult time enjoying anything more primitive. The limited colour palettes and screeching chiptunes make for an unenjoyable gaming experience, and for better or worse, the NES was projected perfectly onto Shovel Knight's core design.

While I do acknowledge that Shovel Knight is a wonderful achievement for what it is, I personally feel, as a wee lad of 28 with no NES nostalgia, that Shovel Knight is only held back by its commitment to staying "retro". There is nothing here that really feels like a marked improvement from the likes of early-90s NES titles; there was nothing to hook me to say, "This game is special enough to warrant your attention." It's polished to a mirror sheen, but I certainly think the game would have been better by taking even one more half-step towards the fourth console generation... You can write the greatest symphony in human history, but squander it by hiring a high school band instead of a world-renowned orchestra.

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