The start screen says '2015', but it feels like 1990 all over again.
Starting up a console capable of playing games that look more like films and playing a game that looks like it should be on the NES or Master System seems folly, but it's something gamers seem to be in love with.
Luckily, there are regular checkpoints throughout the levels (if you're anything like me, this will be your saving grace) and because each level is around 20-30 minutes, which is a lot of ground to recover if (when) you die, you'll be thankful they're there.
In terms of death and retrying, Shovel Knight takes some cues from newer games, too – when you fall in a pit, impale yourself on spikes or get killed by an enemy, you drop gold. You have one chance to get back to that point and recollect everything you dropped. That's assuming, of course, you can get back to it without dying again first (yes, I died. A lot).
Oh, those sounds. The plinky-plonky music of gaming past. Honestly, they seemed so much more bearable then. But now, in a generation of gaming where we're more accustomed to full scale orchestral scores alongside our games, it begins to grate after a while (admittedly, this may just be me). There's nothing wrong with the music, really, it just feels a bit... twee, after a while.
Shovel Knight has been created with diversity, humour, and more than a little eccentricity.
Shovel Knight has been created with diversity, humour, and more than a little bit of eccentricity. As you traverse the levels and meet new characters, you'll realise this isn't a game that takes itself too seriously. From the Goatician (half goat, half magician) to the Troupple King (half trout, half apple. He performs a kind of dance ceremony...thing, then spits out ichor that has special effects for you to use), you'll not be short of 'what the....' moments or memorable characters. Like horse-people in purple dresses.
Of course, the question remains if there's really enough merit in making games that purposely look 25 years old, but that's another debate entirely. But one thing is certain – Shovel Knight does what it set out to do, and all things considered it does it very well. It is definitely a game worth buying if you like platformers, and will stand as a favourite in the digital collections of many.