Ahhhhh…Shovel Knight. This game is so good that I bought the console version even though I already have the PC version, just so I could play it on the TV and play the new extra level.
Shovel Knight an NES tribute game that takes themes and mechanics from many different classic NES series’. The overworld map is straight out of Super Mario Brothers 3 and the towns/shops/inventory are very Zelda 2/Castlevania 2, but the core gameplay is most similar to Mega Man with a healthy mashed in dose of Duck Tales.
You have to fight your way through the castles of 8 evil knights, each with their own specific theme and power, in order to get to the final big boss in their multi-area castle, with a “fight all the previous bosses again in a row” section and everything. On the way, there is a lot of head-bouncing platforming to be done and many hidden treasures to be found.
The standard difficulty feels just right. For people used to this type of game it can be tricky at parts, but nothing ball-bustingly impossible like the old days. People that AREN’T familiar with this type of game may find it pretty difficult, but honestly, they don’t really even count as people anyway, do they?
On top of being the ultimate NES tribute experience, it also has an amazing Jake Kaufman soundtrack that is not only one of the best 8-bit style soundtracks I’ve ever heard, but maybe even my favorite game soundtrack of all time. Seriously, if you’re into this kind of music you really need to check this soundtrack out (and then go check out some more stuff by the same guy. He does some really great 8-bit music and other various game soundtracks).
Finally, if you get the Xbox One version you get to play the bonus secret Battletoads area, which contains a few recreated levels from Battletoads, against the Battletoads, including one of the dreaded hover-races.
This is just an amazing NES tribute game and absolutely deserving of all the hype and praise it gets. It’s not just an incredibly effective tribute, it’s a genuinely ridiculously fun game that is just an utter joy to play for an NES fan. I would even go as far as to say that if you like NES and you don’t like this game, there is something seriously wrong with you, mentally. I give it 5 Shovel Knights that are so damn good that I can’t even think of a joke here out of 5.