While wandering around the floor at PAX East on Sunday, I stumbled across the booth for Yacht Club Games. I’m glad I did because it afforded me the chance to play a level from their current Kickstarter project Shovel Knight. This game is a love letter to everything I held dear about NES era 2D platformers, in the vein of classics like Mega Man and Castlevania.
When speaking with developer Sean Velasco, we discussed the team’s desire to authentically re-capture the aesthetic of games from that era that many adult gamers cut their teeth on and still love to this day. Luckily Shovel Knight nails this. The graphics and soundtrack are striking, and it’s honestly difficult to tell the game was developed in this decade. It looks and sounds like it could have been released on a gray cartridge in 1988.
Most importantly the controls are razor sharp. Anyone who played quality platformers on the NES understood how important precise character control was in navigating and overcoming challenging areas. Shovel Knight delivers, allowing “foot inching” frame animations similar to Mega Man that allow more accuracy for making jumps and engaging enemies. This came in handy since, while not frustrating, the game is certainly no slouch in the difficulty department.
While I have openly spoken about my mixed feelings towards many Kickstarter projects, this game is the real deal. If you are a fan of old school games or platformers in general, I highly suggest you check out Yacht Club’s Kickstarter page for Shovel Knight and help support its release for PC, Wii U, and 3DS later this year. Within minutes of starting the demo it became one of my most anticipated games at the entire show.