Review: Shovel Knight

Was anyone else expecting an Arthurian-flavour Spelunky when they first played Shovel Knight? I was, but having got over that minor personal blip, it quickly turns into a rather fun Ghosts and Goblins meets Mario kind of game.

Yes, it looks simplistic, but developer Yacht Club Games are firmly tapping into the 8-bit vibe here, with a standard Start menu, world map, chiptune soundtrack and eager-to-please bouncy pixels everywhere. Mr. Knight's shovel comes in handy for whacking enemies, digging up mounds of earth for gems and acting as a pogo stick for some extra bounce.

Every flip-screen page of every level is packed with extras and secrets to find, and relics give you ranged weaponry and other skills, making a good search of level and whack of each wall a worthwhile effort. Unfortunately this does mean you will drop down the odd tempting hole, only to find it instantly kills you, but that's all part of the fun.

The gems and gold can be used in the village to boost your hero's outfit and there are plenty of save game slots for experimentation. In the village are a few quirky characters with a few basic quests to keep you occupied and going back and forth among the levels.

At the end of each level is a boss knight to be defeated, these provide some powerful armour and other upgrades to better equip you for the later hazards. The Cross Buy PlayStation version comes with Kratos as an extra bit of unique content, giving you the Armor of Chaos and a three-hit combo capability, but otherwise it is pretty much the PC version. Naturally, I reckon it looks best on the small screen!

Roving around the world, there is plenty to love about Shovel Knight, with corny one-liners being thrown about, so many if-only-I-could-reach-that-bit secrets and the patterns of the bosses to master. And, the use of dark sections and floating, sinking, vanishing pads mixes up some classic gameplay elements. Unfortunately, the basic creatures are more annoying than anything, and while the developers have taken a less is more approach to most areas, I wish the fodder was either a little more foddery (especially when the come back as you head back a screen) or they were less of them between me and the good stuff. Yes, its good you can skip past some creatures, but the general use of them feels inconsistent - or perhaps its just me and many instances of "Stupid Death" syndrome.

However, there's no denying the fun to be had in the realms of the Shovel Knight, which despite its old-school looks is very much a mixture of the best ideas in gaming.

Score 8/10
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Price: £11.99
Dev: Yacht Club Games
Progress: Nighty knight