Developer: Yacht Club Games
Publisher: Yacht Club Games
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Version Reviewed: Digital Version
Category: Action, Fighting, Multiplayer, Platformer
No. of Players: 1 – 4 players
Release Date: December 10th, 2019 (Worldwide)
Price: $9.99 USD
In 2014, a small video game company called Yacht Club Games brought upon the world the 8-bit indie gem known as Shovel Knight. The Little Knight of Shovelry took the gaming world by storm and went on to gain quite the following for himself.
Yacht Club Games have continued to support the game with new expansions that were free for anyone who had the original game. Such expansions featured other characters from the Shovel Knight Series like Plague Knight, Specter Knight and until recently, King Knight.
Shovel Knight has become an Indie Icon and has had cameo appearances in other indie games as well including Yooka-Laylee, Brawlhalla, Runbow and Blade Strangers. Shovel Knight Showdown, on the other hand, is the first Spin-off from the main series that is also is a change of genre from platformer to brawler (not that Shovel Knight is a stranger to Brawlers).
The premise for Shovel Knight Showdown has Specter Knight, angered with the Enchantress, vowing to put things right at the Tower of Fate. The residents at the tower came up with a plan to trap the Enchantress in a magical Mirror. The plan goes awry and instead of solely trapping the Enchantress, it traps Specter Knight, Shovel Knight and the others as well.
Each Knight awakes to find themselves in a world somewhat like their own but not. It is trapped in constant conflict and the only way to escape is by fighting all the other Knights and making their way back to the magical mirror that transported them there in the first place.
Shovel Knight Showdown is a platform brawler that has players fight in order to collect the most gems. Each Knight has 2-3 types of attacks that are unique to them to defend themselves and do damage to the other players as well as a counter-attack to push opponents back. Everyone has a lifeline that is divided into four parts. If you get hit four times without replenishing health, you will lose a life.
The general game mode is Treasure Clash in which players have to collect more Gems than anyone else before the time ends. However, there are other rules that can have you partake in a simple Showdown; No Gems, may the best Knight win. Other settings include the type of power-ups that are available, giant characters, do 4X damage, etc.
Players can move freely over each of the many stages in the game. Every stage has its hazards like pitfalls, rotating saws, moving platforms, and springs. Knowing how to maneuver yourself is just as much part of the battle as is fighting the other knights. Some stages also scroll from left to right, just to add more challenge as you try to avoid getting crushed by obstacles due to getting pinned down by the other players.
Up to four players can battle each other in Free-For-Alls or Teams battles. There are three team colors to choose from; Blue, Red, Green and it can make for some interesting team pairings like 2 vs 2, 2 vs 1 vs 1 or 1 vs 3. Items can appear on the stage to help give players an advantage like fairies to fly around and attack the other players, bombs that explode after time or invincibility to really lay the smackdown on your opponents.
CONTENT & FEATURES:
There are two playable modes in Shovel Knight Showdown. Battle is the multiplayer mode that allows up to four players to fight over stages of their own choosing and set the rules to fit their playstyle. Story is a single-player campaign that explains the story of the game and pits the player in a series of several stages against CPU fighters with a particular objective to win the fight.
Unlockables provides a list of challenges for players to complete in order to unlock new characters, stages, alternative costumes and the like. Most are easily visible but others are hidden as to not make things too clear for the player. Options is where players can alter the in-game settings like audio volume, language selection and other settings to suit them.
One thing that Yacht Club Games does well is recreating the 8-bit chiptune soundtrack from yesteryear to make Shovel Knight Showdown as authentically retro as possible. With the exception of the title screen soundtrack, which is original to the game, the rest of the soundtrack is made up of background music from the other Shovel Knight titles.
Most of the stages in the game are based on those from the other titles, it is only logical that their respective background music comes along for the ride as well. The SFX was also pulled from the other games from the sound of the Shovel Knight’s shovel swinging to Dark Knight’s high-pitched giggle.
VISUALS & PERFORMANCE:
Shovel Knight was an 8-bit masterpiece and Shovel Knight Showdown is no different. The colors, textures, and instances from the type fonts to the character sprites make the game look like it came straight from 1982 and wouldn’t look out of place on an old arcade cabinet.
Performance is very smooth, which has to be expected from a platform brawler. It’s no good playing game that requires quick responses when it suffers from severe frame rate drops. Fortunately, this is not the case here and to top it off, loading times are very quick as well, even from the initial boot up from the Switch Home Screen.
Shovel Knight Showdown is a lot of fun. I have enjoyed my time with it and playing with the different characters with their own unique move sets is enough to keep things fresh, at least for a while. It is a fun party game to play with friends but after the beating the main Story mode multiple times, there isn’t much more to come back for afterward.
While you can try to complete each of the challenges or “Feats” to unlock everything, I feel that Yacht Club Games may need to add some new modes in a later update. While the price itself is only $9.99, which is certainly a great price for this game, it might not keep players as entertained as the other entries in the Shovel Knight series. It is great for short bursts but you won’t be dedicating as much time to it as other titles.
Steel thy Shovel. Shovel Knight Showdown allows players to pit their favorite knights against each other for some retro, brawling fun. A little on the short side but is still a blast to play with friends.
THE VERDICT: 8/10
*A download key was provided by Publishers for the purposes of this review.
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