I used to hate challenging games, if only for the fact that I get pissed off and anxious when I feel like a challenge is too much for me. And funnily enough, Shovel Knight is directly based on the era and genre of games that made me feel like this the most… yet Shovel Knight still made me feel like a challenge was beatable, even upon death after death. That in itself is a huge feat.
The first thing that stood out to me, is the NES 8-bit era art style and music. While plenty of games try and capture that era of games, and do a fairly good job, not too many replicate the notorious difficultly a lot of games at the time posed. Shovel Knight nails the difficulty, but also applies a lot of modern gaming conventions to make it feel like you still have a chance, one of the most obvious being the checkpoints in a level.
I absolutely loved how inspired the boss fights and characters are, with each enemy knight and their realm having their own theme. Specter Knight had a brilliant themed level, where some portions are completely blacked out, and only periodically lit up by lightning, all in a cemetery setting. Tinker Knight also gets a special mention, with the initial boss fight is just againt a tiny, almost defenseless knight, quickly turning into a huge fight against a big mech, with spinning lance and missiles! And of course, the boss rush near the end of the game is amazing.
The game is short, so it’s hard to find more to talk about beyond everything I’ve covered… but in short, this is definitely a game worth playing! While it might be challenging, most of the failures are gonna be up to you to work through, so you never feel cheated! I played on the Wii U, but it’s also out on the 3DS, PC, PS4, PS3, PS Vita, and Xbox One… so you have no excuse!