Welcome to the Weekly Wizard, the segment of Miketendo64 brought to you by the criminal mastermind behind Wizard Dojo, where I talk about stuff relating to Nintendo’s past, present or future!
Sorry this edition is a bit late. I exhausted my blogging powers writing the 500th blog for my site. But I’m still finding the time to write this anyway, because I’m sweet like that.
When Shovel Knight was released in 2014, it became a smash hit. Drawing inspiration from the 8-bit greats like Mega Man, Castlevania, Super Mario Bros. 3, and even Duck Tales, Shovel Knight dug its way into our hearts, becoming a big-seller and critical darling, effectively putting Yacht Club Games into the spotlight.
What we may not have expected, however, is just how iconic its titular character would become. Since the game’s release, Shovel Knight has become something of the “Mario” of the indie gaming scene. He frequently cameos or is referenced in other indie titles, and he’s become something of the unofficial face of indie gaming.
Shovel Knight’s most recent appearance is in Yooka-Laylee, Playtonic’s debut game and spiritual sequel to the Banjo-Kazooie series. But this is just the most recent in a long line of cameos and crossovers. Shovel Knight is even scheduled to make an appearance in Castlevania spiritual successor Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night!
There were some indie characters who vied for the position Shovel Knight now finds himself in: Meat Boy, Tim from Braid, that kid from Limbo. But none of them really fit the role all too well. Meat Boy was perhaps off-putting due to the sheer difficulty of his game, as well as being a disgusting slab of meat. Meanwhile, Braid and Limbo are perhaps a little too pretentious to be so widely embraced.
Shovel Knight was a different story. The game combined elements of so many classics of the 8-bit era, but put its own spin on things to create a truly unique experience. It controlled well, looked great, had a kickass soundtrack, and was original and fun.
Similarly, its titular hero was simple but memorable, much like the video game characters who inspired him. He’s just an easy to like character from an easy to love game.
Simply put, Shovel Knight fit the role of indie gaming’s mascot more so than I think Yacht Club Games ever imagined. And the great thing is his position in the independent scene made it really easy for him to gain more exposure.
Because indy developers are much smaller than the AAA companies, they can more easily communicate ideas without going through so many legal hoops. All kinds of indie developers were all too happy to include Shovel Knight in their games one way or another.
Shovel Knight was a game that quickly became a hit, and the easy access for other developers to include him in their games meant Shovel Knight quickly rose to prominence as a character. He even became the first official third-party Amiibo, and is still the only Amiibo based on an indie character.
These days, it’s hard to imagine another indie character reaching the same iconic status. If Mario is “Mr. Video Game” then Shovel Knight has become “Mr. Indie Game.” This status couldn’t be more deserved, for who else could dispense shovel justice so beautifully?
This all begs the question of when Shovel Knight will get his own follow-up? It’s impossible to think that Yacht Club Games wouldn’t deliver the sequel we all want and expect. Will it simply be Shovel Knight 2, and serve as a bigger follow-up? Or could it be Super Shovel Knight, and take on a 16-bit style? Or maybe we’ll be seeing a kart racing spinoff!
Whatever the case may be, I think it’s safe to say that we’ve only scratched the surface of what Shovel Knight has to offer. Countless cameos are sure to follow, and I think we’ll soon see this indie classic become a force to be reckoned with as its own franchise. Who knows, maybe one day we’ll see Shovel Knight as a fighter in Super Smash Bros.
That’s all for this edition of TWW. How much do you love Shovel Knight? Feel free to express your shovel affections and dream Shovel Knight appearances in the comments. And be sure to check out my site WizardDojo for more of my opinions on gaming and other stuff, too!