Unashamedly retro adventure Shovel Knight sees our titular warrior set off on an 8-bit chase to rescue his former partner Shield Knight from the grasp of the evil Order of No Quarter. Revealed via static cutscenes in true NES fashion, the plot isn’t complex but the game itself is as compelling as any 1980s classic.
Taking inspiration from platforming paragon Duck Tales, Shovel Knight can use his spade as a pogo stick to bounce on enemies and traverse tricky jumping sections. It’s also perfectly capable of swiping enemies just as a sword would, and various creepy crawlies, flying mice and bubble-blowing dragons all yield eventually in the face of fierce shovelry.
Treasure is hidden in rockpiles or behind blocks, and some of the game’s best moments arrive when you finally figure out a route to reach oversized gems hidden around the various stages. These allow you to stock up on goodies to aid Shovel Knight in his quest. Buying food enlarges your health bar, whereas relics can be obtained for magical purposes.
Throughout each level checkpoint globes can be lit to save your progress, although confident players can smash the glass and collect more gold instead. This risky strategy can cause consternation if you die before reaching the next checkpoint though - respawning enemies make fighting your way back through tough sections a real test.
A loving attention to detail is evident throughout, as encounters with NPCs in various towns offer both hints and humour to help you on your quest. In true Zelda fashion, talking to everyone possible yields the best results.
Nintendo games over the years
Nintendo games over the years
1/27 Super Mario Bros (NES)
Though not the first time Mario ever appeared (he was originally called Jumpman in a Donkey Kong game) but this 1985 platformer on the NES was praised for "resurrecting a crashed American video game market" - it was the best ever selling video game up until Wii Sports took the title in 2006.
2/27 Metroid (NES)
As the first outing for Samus Aran in 1986, the female protagonist bounty hunter was said to be hugely inspired by Ridley Scott's 1979 horror film Alien.
3/27 The Legend of Zelda (NES)
There's no doubt this game was influential in gaming. With a free roaming world to explore and a new save system, the little guy in green who first graced our screens in 1987 has built a franchise that's sold over 70 million copies.
4/27 Super Mario Bros 3 (NES)
The 1988 fourth version of Mario saw the plumber being able to fly for the first time. Plus, it introduced the world map, which is now integral to platform gaming.
5/27 Mega Man 2 (NES)
Known in Japan as Rockman 2: Dr. Wily no Nazo, this was the sequel Capcom made - despite disappointing sales of the original. Needless to say, the 1988 version was a much bigger success.
6/27 Tetris (Game Boy)
Portable gaming is so ubiquitous in modern day in the form of mobile phones that it's easy to forget how popular the Game Boy was when it was released in 1989 - along with Tetris, which sold over 35 million copies. The simple and addictive gameplay has gone on to inspire countless copycat formats - and it's the best selling game of all time.
7/27 Super Mario World (SNES)
As the launch title for the Super Nintendo, the 1990 platformer was the fifth in the series - but the first time we met Yoshi. He of course stole the show, and got his own spin-off.
8/27 Street Fighter II (SNES)
This 1991 sequel was the first one-on-one fighting game where the players had a choice of characters with different moves. Whether it was Chun Li's Lightning Kick, Blanka's Electric Thunder or Ryu/Ken's Hadouken, each fighter offered something original.
9/27 The Legend of Zelda: A Link To The Past (SNES)
It was the first time the Zelda series had seen two parallel worlds in 1991, and fans were unanimous in praise for the dark world. Shigeru Miyamoto, the Nintendo mastermind behind this, also created The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.
10/27 Super Mario Kart (SNES)
As the third best-selling SNES game of all time, in 1992 players were elated to take down others in races with powers specific to your chosen Nintendo character. The Donut Plains course originally appeared in Super Mario World - and re-appeared in Mario Kart 8 this year.
11/27 Kirby's Adventure (NES)
Suck-happy Kirby made his second appearance in 1993, following a debut on the Game Boy a year before. He's since starred in over 20 games - and has his own anime and manga series.
12/27 Donkey Kong Country (SNES)
The second best-selling SNES game from 1994 saw Diddy Kong introduced, as well as Rambi the Rhino, Enguarde the swordfish and Squawks the parrot. Plus some exciting rides on a mine cart.
13/27 Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island (SNES)
The adorable world from Nintendo in 1995 saw a selection of Yoshi's teaming up to save baby Mario, as he carried around eggs to target enemies.
14/27 Super Mario 64 (N64)
For younger gamers, it might be hard to imagine a time before 3D gaming. But when Super Mario 64 hit the brand new console the N64 in 1996, players could take Mario beyond linear - on an open world journey.
15/27 Star Fox 64
Also known as Lylat Wars, the 1997 scrolling shooter was a reboot of the original Star Fox, where Fox McCloud (red fox and leader of the Star Fox team) must save Lylat.
16/27 Golden Eye (N64)
The hugely popular split-screen multiplayer mode left players arguing over who would get to be unfairly-short-and-tough-target Oddjob. Released in 1997, it's the third best-selling N64 game.
17/27 The Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time (N64)
The fifth game in the Zelda series in 1998, sees Link learn songs on the ocarina (which also meant sales increased of the instrument in real life). In 2008 and 2010, Guinness World Records listed Ocarina of Time as the highest rated game ever reviewed.
18/27 Banjo Kazooie (N64)
The 1998 puzzle platformer from Rare saw players collecting musical notes and jigsaw pieces, as a bear who carried a bird in his backpack - all to stop the mean witch named Gruntilda.
19/27 Pikmin 2 (GameCube)
The 2004 sequel again saw the player delegate tasks to a horde of called Pikmin – but this time they could control two at once.
20/27 Animal Crossing: Wild World (DS)
The best selling game on the DS sold over 11 million copies since 2005, and saw players take on the role of a a human who has moved into a village populated with anthropomorphic animals. It was the first in the series to feature online play.
21/27 Wii Sports (Wii)
The second best-selling video game of all time (released in 2006) changed the way we played. Gamers got off their seats, and into active mode – complete with warnings of banging arms and breaking lights.
22/27 Resident Evil 4 (Wii)
The sixth entry in the horror series follows U.S. government special agent Leon S. Kennedy. The 2005 game was the best-selling in the series.
23/27 Pokémon Diamond and Pearl (DS)
The fifth installment of the Pokémon series of RPGs added online battles - and over a 100 more Pokemon in 2006.
24/27 Super Mario Galaxy (Wii)
Mario's 2007 space adventure was a huge hit with critics and players - on the GameRankings site it's the highest rated game.
25/27 Mario Kart (Wii)
The best selling racing game of all time from 2008 saw players master the Wii Remotes (to varying degrees of success) with 24 characters and 36 vehicles to choose from.
26/27 Super Smash Bros Brawl (Wii)
The third hugely entertaining instalment in the series in 2008 saw players take on either single mode – or the classic multiplayer beat em up. Fans are undoubtedly excited for the upcoming 2014 release.
27/27 Mario Kart 8 (Wii U)
The most recent in the series in 2014 introduced anti-gravity and new attacks - including the boomerang flower and Piranha Plant.
Collecting song sheets for the town bard also allows the soundtrack time to shine. Mainly composed by Jake Kaufman, catchy chiptune melodies accompany your adventures, the music even boasts a couple of contributions from Mega Man maestro Manami Matsumae to hammer home the retro feel. Shovel Knight’s colour palette has also been appropriately limited to reflect the game’s initial inspirations, lending the whole project a keen sense of authenticity.
In a marketplace crowded with grimly realistic titles, it is heartening to see Yacht Club Games free themselves from the shackles of most modern gaming, nobly chasing down a lost gameplay experience with a passion that’s strongly felt.Reuse content