June 26, 2014 3:00 PM | Anthony Swinnich
It feels like I've been waiting for Shovel Knight for years. Not because of my anticipation -- the game was only revealed in March of last year -- but because I've been waiting for game like this since the sunset of the NES. Action-platformers of this nature and quality have become harder and harder to find as time has moved on. The industry has grown, player taste has changed and developer focus has shifted. Yacht Club Games seeks to bury those notions with Shovel Knight, and it seems they couldn't have dug a better ditch in which to do so.
Shovel Knight is like a time machine, back to a time where game heroes didn't have to make sense to be awesome. Look at the meat-stomping protagonist of Burger Time, or the tragically-classic design of Rygar and you'll see what I mean. Donning a suit of armor and taking up a bladed-shovel might seem silly, but it's fun, and it's worked into every aspect of the game. You swing it at enemies and can dig through the ground to unearth treasure. You can even use it like a pogo-stick and bounce off of things. The armor does as good a job at protecting you as it does making you look formidable.
Even if Yacht Club went the serious route with the theme, the gameplay would still be worthwhile. The levels are expertly crafted in every way. Sure, they're partially an homage to times-gone-by (just as any "retro" design would be), but they're strong enough to stand beside them as equals. The platforming requires finesse and never feels unfair, there are a ton of different enemies and level elements that interact with you in creative, themed ways, and there is a ton of secrets to uncover.
It's tough not to continue to gush over Shovel Knight, but I don't really want to rob anybody of the experience. Interest should not meet with hesitation: Shovel Knight is on Steam for Windows, and the Nintendo eShop for the Wii U and 3DS now for $15.