Many games in the past few years have attempt­ed to recap­ture the pix­e­lat­ed good­ness of the 80s and 90s, but few of them have been com­plete­ly suc­cess­ful. Along comes Yacht Club Games this year, with their debut title Shov­el Knight to rem­e­dy this fact. Hav­ing grown up play­ing quite a bit of Mega Man, I have a strong opin­ion of how that era of games felt. Shov­el Knight takes pages from both the Mega Man series and even the sur­pris­ing­ly good Duck Tales game for the NES and com­bines them into, aside from Mega Man 9, the most suc­cess­ful­ly retro-feel­ing game I’ve ever played.


The struc­ture of Shov­el Knight is lift­ed direct­ly from the pages of clas­sic Cap­com games. You go through a series of stages and fight a boss themed around the lev­el. This clear homage, how­ev­er, is not what makes it such a great game. Every­thing about the design, includ­ing the var­ied lev­els and amaz­ing­ly-catchy chip-tune sound­track, hits the nail on the head and comes togeth­er in its own right. After fin­ish­ing the game, I enjoyed it so much that I hopped right back in and played through half the game again. What Shov­el Knight does­n’t bring to the table in orig­i­nal­i­ty, it makes up for in spades in exe­cu­tion. I look for­ward to see what else Yacht Club Games has up their sleeve, because if it’s any­thing like Shov­el Knight, it’s sure one boat I’d hop on in a sec­ond. It cer­tain­ly deserves the num­ber 7 spot on my top 10 list for 2014.

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