Shovel Knight (3DS Videogame)
Review Written By: Adolph Vega
Shovel Knight looks and plays very well in 3d, and uses several different graphical layers of 3d in a nice way. The player and main action are on mid layer of 3d ground and at times some particles pop out in a subtle way. The graphics look sharp and vibrant in 3D and I never found it overwhelming to the eye and runs equally as smooth with 3D on or off. Trees in the background have different layers and rain looks to fall in different paths in the background. At times playing the game in 3D will help you distinguish what areas of the screen are platforms that Shovel Knight can interact with and what is only background, but for the most part is just a nice visual effect. Sadly I don't feel this 3d significantly improves the gameplay in any way, overall the 3D effect looks very nice and I would recommend playing the game with it on but lacks that amazing factor to excel it to great 3D. The graphics and animation is a great 8-Bit style , but never becomes choppy or slows down and the 3D only enhances it this great art direction.
Final Verdict: Good 3D
Shovel Knight plays in a similar fashion to old school 2d side scrolling action games of the past. The gameplay resembles aspects from big name games such as: Duck Tales, Megaman, Castlevanaia, and Zelda 2 Adventure of Link. The game has a story of Shovel Knight and his quest to save his beloved Shield Knight, and is well written, charming and much better presented than I thought was possible for 8-bit style game.
One of the best aspects of Shovel Knight is that the gameplay seems fresh, new and unique so you can enjoy the game even if you never played those old specific games or franchises. The basic gameplay is you controlling your character (Shovel Knight) as you explore the 2d side scrolling levels, defeat enemies, find treasure, go to towns and speak to villagers and end each level with a boss character to fight. The level bosses are very clever in design and have unique battle patterns they execute and are generally are fun to fight, but I found them to be too easy to defeat and usually were defeated in my first attempt. The controls in this game are very accurate, simple to understand and can easily be customized to your liking. The Touch screen lets you change and use items easily with just a tap of the screen and overall is a pleasure to play. The music in this game is fantastic and has a nice 8-bit flavor that is catchy and fun to listen to with different songs playing in different areas. I highly recommend playing this game with headphones connected because the tiny 3DS speakers do not service this game’s music well.
The main event within the game is exploring the large selection of varied levels that are well designed and require precise movement to navigate and have many secrets to find. After you finish a level you are presented a world map that lets you pick what areas you want to visit next. Once you complete certain levels you can advance on the map and go to new areas. Some spots on the map are villages, new levels, and sometimes enemies will wonder the map for you to fight. The world map is basic and strait forward, but sadly does not tell you if you fully completed a level and found all its secrets. Each level within the game feels distinct and keeps the gameplay fresh and interesting. The level design intelligent never requiring a tutorial yet difficult and I died several times during the course of playing the game but I never thought the levels were brutal or excessively tedious. The game is difficult and tricky but I always felt the level design was fair to the player and the overall gameplay was more tilted to being fun than frustrating. Regarding player deaths they are handled in a unique and interesting fashion. Shovel Knight does not have a limited supply of lives but when you die the location of your death will be marked with floating moneybags that are a visual representation of your collected treasure and you will restart again at the last checkpoint. These checkpoints scattered within the levels can be destroyed to gain extra treasure but will no longer function as a checkpoint in the future so this aspect is definitely a risk / reward feature. When you replay the level you can attempt to collect the moneybags from a previous death to regain your treasure or choose to move on. At times it may be too difficult to recapture the moneybags without dying again and each sequential death will continue to decrease your total treasure. If you feel that you lost too much money from death you may exit the level completely but loose your progress but regain the gold you had before entering the level. Each level may take up to 15-20 minutes to fully complete depending on how much you want to explore and how often you die. I did find the levels to be a little too large for a portable system like the Nintendo 3DS.
Each level will also contain a secret treasure that can be bought from a merchant named Chester that gives you new abilities called relics. These relics use some of your magic meter and vary greatly, one relic allows you to toss fireballs and another let’s you dash in the sky and fly for a short period of time. A few optional levels within the game are specifically designed to be completed with a relic, these relic levels are very challenging fun alternative to the main levels. If you don’t have enough gold to buy the relic from Chester when you are within a level you can buy it later at the village from him for your convenience. The villages within the game are where you can talk with other characters, upgrade your abilities, extend your life meter, extend your life magic meter, and buy new armor. Sadly the armor system within this game is rather awkward and not well implemented, the armor does not combine and add onto your previous armor, the new armor needs to be changed in town, and finally no armor is clearly the definitive armor as all armors have positives and negatives.
The 3DS version of this game has three exclusive features, one being the 3D graphics, second being street pass area and the third is being able to sell 3DS coins for treasure. The Street Pass area within the game lets you record a ghost of you collecting gems and if you pass another player that has the game their ghost will appear in your game in that same area. I have street passed one person who had the game and activated this feature and I found this aspect boring because its passive experience watching ghosts move in the area and has no clear point. If your character gets in the way of the other character they will battle but the whole experience is sadly underdeveloped and just not satisfying in any way. The last 3DS exclusive feature is the ability to sell your 3DS coins for gold. As you walk around with your 3DS in your pocket you will get coins per 100 steps taken, up to 10 coins per day or 1000 steps. Within this game you can talk to somebody in a village who will trade coins for gold. The selling of 3DS coins for treasure is not a significant way to gather a large quantity of gold but might help put you over the top to be able to buy for your character. The game also features ‘feats’ which are achievements you can accomplish as you play the game, and for the most part are fun diversions. The game also has a mode you can play after completing it, which increases the difficulty, and lets you carry over your relics, and power ups after you completed the game.
Overall I very much enjoy the many aspects of Shovel Knight. It feels like an 8 bit game but refined to fit modern standards. The balance of fun gameplay, exploration and challenge makes it worthwhile 3DS game to own. The game is not a perfect experience as I wish the levels were shorter, street pass section was better implemented; boss characters were more challenging and ability to switch armors on the fly. All things considered I found the game very enjoyable, challenging and at nearly around 10 hours of content its well worthy of your money and time regardless if you never enjoyed 8 bit action games of the past.
Final Verdict: 9 / 10
Yacht Club Games, Llc. Copyright © 2014-2016
Since this review has been posted the game has been updated and includes a new challenge mode, amiibo support, an additional story mode with a different character "Plague Knight". The issues I have with the game are still present, however with this additional bonus content I have decided to give this game a Editors Choice Award. The updates to the game have transformed this game and made it superior to what it originally was when I reviewed it. To reflect these updates the most prudent decision was to give this game an Editors Choice Award for it's continued efforts to expand and improve the game post launch .
Yacht Club Games, Llc.
Copyright © 2014-2016