Small Game Saturday: Shovel Knight

Games can be exhausting. After hours and hours of slaying realistic-looking zombies or making decisions that alter the course of an entire world, sometimes a person just needs a pallet cleanser–a game that is fun, simple, and still challenging.

Enter Shovel Knight.

Shovel Knight is an 8-bit retro platformer where you take on the role of the disgraced Shovel Knight as he journeys to rid the world of the Enchantress and her evil knights in order to avenge the loss of his beloved Shield Knight. It sounds like a ridiculous concept, a knight wielding a shovel, but somehow it works. Mostly because the game maintains a sense of humor throughout, but also because you can do nearly anything in 8-bit graphics and have it look reasonable. Besides, how else is knight supposed to loot ineptly covered piles of gold and gems without a shovel?

At first glance, Yacht Club Games’ Shovel Knight looks terribly simple. Jump, shovel stab, jump jump, dig a hole, jump, shovel stab, etc. And sure, that’s how it plays out for the first few levels. But as the game goes on, the difficulty of the game increases exponentially. Soon you have to time attacks, use relics to finish a level, upgrade your shovel and armor, and before you’re know it, you’re screaming at the screen because that Propeller Knight is a cheating son of a vulture’s behind. Once you’re climbed the Tower of Fate and beaten the game, then you can start anew with a New Game Plus to make the game even more challenging. Ah, the good ol’ days of playing a game over and over until you made it your….*ahem* you get the idea.

Shovel Knight is an adorable mix of early Nintendo Mario and Zelda, meshing levels and weapon-like relics such as a Flare Wand and the ever-amazing Phase Locket. Oh, and you can use the shovel like a pogo-stick, bouncing off the heads of enemies, which you’ll have to master in order to get through most of the levels. It’s also just plain fun hopping from enemy to enemy. Bonus, it poops in the face of physics, so use that downthrust to your heart’s content.

If you’re looking to get your kids into gaming because they demand too much attention and parenting, Shovel Knight is an excellent substitute for affection as well as a great introduction to video games. It’s humor and bright color palette is sure to attract any child. No prior gaming knowledge necessary!

In a gaming world of life-like graphics, new combat styles, key bindings that make my head want to explode, it is refreshing to play a game like Shovel Knight that just gets right down to playing the game. Play for four hours or half an hour, Shovel Knight doesn’t care because Shovel Knight loves you for who are, not for how you play. Try saying that about Call of Duty, you #%(*&$# @(*&#$^% (@&(# noob.

Shovel Knight is currently available on Wii U, 3DS, Windows, Mac, and Linux; it should release on the Playstation Network sometime in 2015.

Jen Stayrook
Jen Stayrook
Don't let the fancy nerd duds deceive you; Jen’s never been described as “classy.” You can find her on Twitter where she stalks all of her favorite celebrities: @jenstayrook. Or you can find her on Steam or Xbox dying in every game she plays as "Rilna." Email:

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