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What’s Killing My Social Life This Week – Shovel Knight

We are living in a time where we have the technology to make some of the greatest looking and most in depth video games and yet there is a small niche of games being made to cater to the retro crowd. I for one couldn’t be happier. It’s fulfilling a basic need for me. I have never been much of a gamer by modern standards, but that would never stop me from popping on an old 8 Bit or 16 Bit game and finding endless hours or entertainment. Thankfully there are game developers who understand that there are people like me in this world that would easily pay for a new “old” style game.

I’ve been loving the new series of Super Mario Brothers and Donkey Kong Country games. I hit real pay dirt though with the downloadable Final Fantasy IV: The After Years a direct sequel to the U.S. Final Fantasy 2 including the same music, the same graphics, the same characters, the same everything just with a new story. It’s exactly what I wanted. When a friend recommended Shovel Knight to me all I had to do was see the graphics and I was immediately sold. Yacht Club Games is the company behind this and they released the game via download for most major systems. Shovel Knight is everything that’s great about 8 bit gaming and then some.

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The check mate Yacht Club Games used was not just trying to replicate an old Nintendo game with a new story but rather taking the best bits out of the NES consoles greatest games and combining them together to forge something new. Shovel Knight’s side scrolling game play is reminiscent of the Mega Man series with a touch of Castlevania 3. Our hero, Shovel Knight uses his shovel to both dig and as a pogo like attack lifted straight from Uncle Scrooge in Duck Tales. Once you beat a level you are shown a fixed map of the world where you can travel from box to box to explore the next level that will have you getting serious Mario 3 deja vu (complete with Hammer Brothers esque mini boss fights that will appear occasionally on the map blocking your way). On top of that, Zelda 2 is also an inescapable influence. Between certain levels you have to travel through towns talking to the townsfolk and gathering information like any good RPG where you can buy armor and weapon upgrades. Not to mention raising both your health and magic levels. They’ve also improved upon most NES era gameplay by giving the player an infinite number of lives and saving your progress after every level.

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That’s not all. The game has a killer 8 bit soundtrack featuring contributions from Mega Man composer Manami Matsumae. Shovel Knight looks, feels and sounds like the real deal. I swear when I was playing the first level I was getting flashbacks of the background from the third level in Ninja Gaiden. Like that game franchise and Mega Man it works as one of those games where memorization is key (I’m sure there is name for this, but I don’t know it). You go through each section of the board and as you get repelled, you need to remember what you did and what was there to advance through the level a little bit at a time. The game starts off relatively easily, and slowly gets harder and harder. There is a story involved, but honestly like most Nintendo games it can take a back seat. It’s just there because it has to be and that’s ok with me.

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If you love old school Nintendo games and you’re jonesing for something new, give this a whirl and for $15 you really can’t go wrong either.

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About Biff Tannen

Film Noir, Pulp, Comic Books and Hitchcock.

Posted on January 23, 2015, in Reviews, Video Games, What's Killing My Social Life This Week and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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