Summary: Shovel Knight is an excellent throwback to the classic NES era platformers. With its charming 16-bit aesthetic, its solid gameplay, genuine love for the genre and its innovation of it, Shovel Knight is a must buy for lovers of retro games and newcomers.
Top Critic Average
Shovel Knight is quite possibly the best faux-NES game I've ever played.
Overall, Shovel Knight is a brilliant game. Everything is does it does well and everything works. It's balanced and challenging and constantly offers up new surprises. The controls work perfectly, the levels and enemies are well designed and there's a nice chunk of humour in there as well. This probably is it for the 8-bit retro styled platformer as to beat this would really take something. We tried and tried but it simply cannot be faulted. It's just a magnificent game.
It's rare that a developer can not only capture the magic of 8-bit classics, but improve upon them, but Shovel Knight does exactly that. This game is a true classic, and hopefully the first of many more to come from Yacht Club Games. Bravo.
The game also sings because it's never a slave to the perceived merits of tradition. It would have been all too easy to, say, shove in some little floating Shovel Knight heads, making you collect pointless extra lives for no reason other than that's how things were done back in the good old days. Yacht Club Games is smarter than that, and their game is, too.
Because it's the perfect five-hour play session.
I only made such strong comparisons because Shovel Knight is very blatantly borrowing from Mega Man and Castlevania. The formulas for those games work so perfectly well for a reason, and while I am not saying that it is wrong to try and innovate on them, Shovel Knight could have, perhaps, found a better way to do so.
Shovel Knight was fun for a while, but it didn't do enough to keep my interest the whole way through. A very good old school platformer that doesn't do enough to earn a place in modern gaming. If you're feeling particularly nostalgic, go ahead, otherwise you might want to play something a bit more ambitious.
Shovel Knight is a pretty stellar homage to simpler times, but it's so unabashedly an homage that it never steps out of the shadows cast by the components it's built from—DuckTales, Mega Man, Simon's Quest. And while derivative doesn't necessarily mean bad—far from it in Shovel Knight's case—it certainly doesn't make it any less pandering in a lot of ways.