Shovel Knight knew how to combine the best of the past with the most valuable of the present, to make a fantastic package
Making a retro game is not easy, even though it may seem less complicated at a technological level. The most famous games of the NES (Mega Man, The Legend of Zelda, Super Mario Bros) were not made alone. So, when a team like Yacht Club Games seeks to recreate the magic of NES, there are many questions to ask. What elements should be maintained? Which problems should be modified and which deserve a second chance? What problems or defects are part of the charism? All this was part of the recipe that led to Shovel Knight.
The design of the levels of Shovel Knight seeks to recreate the magic of games like Mega Man and achieves it. Their controls are quite comfortable, the variety of enemies is constant, the levels usually have good experimentation of concepts without overloading the player, and the bosses are always fun to face. A game like Shovel Knight is always looking to surprise the player and gives him the option to explore the levels, as they can also complete them quickly.
The essence of Shovel Knight is retro, a trip to the generation of the Nintendo Entertainment System. That’s why its levels, its platforms, its aesthetics seeks to be like a faithful recreation of games like Mega Man 3. However, its gameplay introduces several mechanics to make the experience more interesting. The unlockable tools are quite diverse, so they can quite alter the player’s strategy. If you die, you reappear at a checkpoint, but you lose your money. You can buy different armors that change the style of play.
All this adds to a narrative that, with very little, manages to make Shovel Knight and Shield Knight feel like real characters, but without feeling “too modern.”
It is this classic aesthetic and quality design that makes Shovel Knight one of the best games of the decade.