Among Nintendo’s eShop demos at Comic Con I found a demo for Yacht Club Games' 8-bit inspired platformer, Shovel Knight. Shovel Knight stars the blue-armored knight of shovelry on a quest to save his partner and save the world from the evil Enchantress and her Order of No Quarter. Inspired by games such as Zelda II and Mega Man, this game caught people's attention when it appeared on Kickstarter earlier this year as well as from YCG's presence at PAX East. Now nearing its release, I got to try it again in NYCC.
At PAX East earlier this year, I was able to get a hands-on with Shovel Knight before, and this appeared to be the same demo except now on Wii U hardware. The demo took place in Pridemoore Castle, which was populated with helicopter rats, jousting horses, and large gryphon bosses that could breath fire. Each of these enemies could be defeated by shoveling away at them or by plunging the shovel from above similar to Scrooge McDuck’s cane in Ducktales. However, other enemies such as wizards and armored knights required more strategy to properly get an attack through their defenses, such as deflecting magic back at them or mixing up attack patterns to get an opening.
Much like in other 8-bit platformers, the stage was filled with platform gimmicks such as falling chandeliers and magic platforms that only exists as long as a spell book is open. Navigating these hazards amid flying rats and attacking wizards created a enjoyable challenge that was both tough but satisfying to try over an over again. At the end of the stage, I once again dueled with King Knight and his gallant stroll. He called forth trumpets to rain down dangerous confetti on me and dashed towards me at alarming speeds. He felt a tad tougher than before, but thankfully I had the magic wand I found earlier in the level to help take him down.
The demo felt more or less as it did back at PAX East, but that isn’t a bad thing. The game’s graphics were colorful and fluid, the music (that I could actually hear this time) was action packed and made me reminisce about games of old, and the controls were tight and responsive, which is very important in a platformer of this genre. The only major update from this demo was that it was playable on the Wii U GamePad. The off-screen play felt just as fluid as it was on the television in front of me, bright and colorful as ever.
Shovel Knight was once again a joy to play, and I cannot wait to dig into this when I releases sometime this year. Shovel Knight is expected to release later this year on Wii U, 3DS, and PC platforms.