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.