Confession. I hate side scroller games. I think they’re dull, boring, look horrendous and end up making you angry.However since Shovel knight was released I’ve wanted to try it out, I’ve only heard good things about it, plus i’m still waiting for something new to be released so its as good a time as any! (dying light DLC releases tomorrow).

This game makes me angry. Very angry….. Yeah it didn’t take long for me to think about turning off my Xbox and just watch re-runs on Top gear instead. Want to know why? Two words. Level design.

Its absolutely fantastic! Confused? Good. Because that’s how i feel right now.
The very first sections of stage one shows you the basic ins and outs you’ll come to expect from the rest of the games stages and then it immediately drops you in the shit. Example: the second sleeping dragon you can defeat for more treasure moves forwards and backwards over a bottomless pit, because its so large it wont fall down but as soon as you defeat the dragon “shovel knight” can pass through it as the hit box is deleted but the dragon sprite is still there. So if you land the killing blow at the wrong time all your hard earned treasure will fall along with you.

The games does give you a chance to recover this lost loot but that doesn’t mean its nice about it. The first time i died all my flying loot bags (money bag sprites with little wings) were hovering over a massive bottomless pit with only a few very small places to land.

Why am i happy about this? Because it means i have to think about my next move! When i play Mario i just hold right and jump when needed, the faster i do it the better. In shovel knight that’s not an option (unless you want to be a penniless chump for the whole game).
Even when you carefully plan every step the game will catch you out, whilst playing on the stage “lost city” i had to make sure not to use the “shovel stomp” move when traversing from room to room because i’d set off the trapped floor. A task that is very difficult as you tend to rely on it lot during the tutorial and the first few levels following it.

-5 points for having a doubled mapped button for interaction and jumping…like seriously?

-5 points because fuck mole people

Mini boss fights are a welcome addition to the trap infested levels. I have never been prepared for one and they are always a surprise, sometimes they’re simple fights and you just jump on their heads until they die.

Main boss fights are just as good, they are what boss fights should be. Foreboding, frustrating and incredibly satisfying once defeated. After getting trolled by the themed dungeon you can really take out your rage on the guy that made it…..or in my case just get even angrier and eventually luck out with the phase shift ability.

-5 points for making the use ability button up + X. Using B, Y or any of the triggers would have been better.

I’ve mentioned the phase shifting ability a few times now (its very very useful) it’s just one of many items or “relics” you can find or purchase. They vary from firing balls of flame to simple fishing rods. All require magic to use (i don’t know why the fishing rod does) so you need to think tactically about each use. Magic can only refill on certain drops from monsters or leaving a level.

Some levels require particular items to traverse like the phase shifter,  its a good incentive to keep accumulating treasure after buying the best armor and weapon upgrades. Plus you can go fishing!

The story is pretty basic, your female knight friend went missing after a final show down, because of this loss you (shovel knight) spent your time in solitude. But now the tower in which you lost your friend has been taken over by the same evil powers that you defeated so long ago. So its up to you  to take back the land and save the world from evil all the whiles being haunted by your loss.

The towns folk always have something quirky or helpful to say, some even reward you for defeating the local warlords. Not unlike the Zelda series. Others have surprising twists…..

Shovel knight gets a 9/10 – its a must have

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