Shovel Knight Review - Digging For Trouble

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Shovel Knight Review - Digging For Trouble

A charming game that resurrects the frustrations of old school platforming ... for better or worse.

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Wfinitely getting this game for my Wii U and PC to support the devs. The game sounds just as difficult as how the old Ducktales games were, and seeing as Yacht Club was going for that it sounds as if they succeeded.
Now, time to sit down and wait for A Hat in Time. :D
*sits down and waits*

Those "medusa heads" are super tricky. Until you get, in the second/third stage, a sub-weapon which, when used in the air or on the ground, makes you temporarily invincible and then, in the fourth stage, learn to use it through a series of challenges expressly designed to teach you how to time your invulnerability.

But as long as you completely ignore the game's mechanics, yes, I suppose those enemies are "annoying" and pose some sort of "risk."

I just wanna know when I can BUY it. E-shop says the 26th, but it's NOT FOR SALE YET.

Comparing it to Dark Souls did the trick.

Will pass on this one. As much as the look of the game was enticing.

RvLeshrac:
Those "medusa heads" are super tricky. Until you get, in the second/third stage, a sub-weapon which, when used in the air or on the ground, makes you temporarily invincible and then, in the fourth stage, learn to use it through a series of challenges expressly designed to teach you how to time your invulnerability.

But as long as you completely ignore the game's mechanics, yes, I suppose those enemies are "annoying" and pose some sort of "risk."

Or you learn their movement patterns and learn how to use your primary weapon (including *gasp* timing) to knock the medusa heads out of the air as you jump. One of many skills that are taught in old school games.

There might be certain sections of Castlevania and my beloved Mega Man games that I curse when I get to (the moving block sections, especially Heat Man), but I know they can be beaten with persistance. Not everyone has that patience and persistance anymore (or at least don't want it in a game), but I've been looking forward to Shovel Knight :).

I downloaded it last night and had a lot of fun with what I've played thus far. It does get hard, but I do agree that it is fair, outside of the "medusa head" moments because Jesus Christ. I pretty much agree with the review of what I've played, and I really do enjoy what Yacht Club did with it.

I backed this game when I first heard of it and I'm really glad that it's a pretty solid game. Fun little silly game for my 3DS.

Good review Jim. :D

Fuuuuuck! So it has a shitty losing mechanic? I was so hoping this game wouldn't have any bullshit in it.

I guess that's just impossible these days.

Oh gaming, when will you finally grow up?

Jumwa:
Comparing it to Dark Souls did the trick.

Will pass on this one. As much as the look of the game was enticing.

having played it for a bit as a kickstarter backer, while I see where the "dark souls" claim comes in, its not as crushingly mean as dark souls. you can take many hits unless you fall prey to the aforementioned pits or spikes, and the amount of gold you find per level still means even if you lose one or two deaths worth of gold, you'll have plenty left, at least as far as I've seen. so its worth a try despite the difficulty.

Valderis:
Fuuuuuck! So it has a shitty losing mechanic? I was so hoping this game wouldn't have any bullshit in it.

I guess that's just impossible these days.

Oh gaming, when will you finally grow up?

calling it shitty is a bit harsh I think. Jim may say significant, but when its only 3 bags of a few hundred each, when you're finding a few thousands or more per level, its not really that much. if you still think that's bullshit.......you must have odd standards for a bad "Continue" mechanic

I may be a bit biased as I was a backer but I've been loving this game. It's very charming. I haven't run into too many of those "medusa head" moments yet but maybe I am not far enough. Thanks for the review Jim

Ok, having bought it, played it, gotten through the first few levels (and an hour or so), the death mechanic is both a bit exaggerated and still annoying. it appears to be about 1/3 or 1/4 of your total unspent gold, that will manifest as floating money bags about where you died. it's not ultra harsh, aside from if you died from falling into a bottomless pit...in which case, those bags are going to be floating over the pit, likely out of your reach. The Castlevania analogs are pretty good, it's a 'take your time and be careful' type of game, rather than 'run forward shovels blazing'.

Only really 'unfair' point I've found was Spectre Knight's darkness segments, where you can't see yourself, platforms, or most enemies, except for during itermitent lightning strikes...which seem to be random. Considering some of this takes place on moving platforms, it's the most 'artificial difficulty' I've seen...but again, I'm not TOO far in.

Looks right up my alley :D I might just pick it up once the Linux version is released.

is there something discouraging you from just dying at a convenient location to refill your health?

Eh, I'd say the comparisons to Medusa Heads are rather poor, not in that it's not a style of difficulty found in Shovel Knight but in that the Medusa Heads really aren't that bad. Yes they can be annoying and are often placed in a such a way that they cause you difficulties, but they also have an extremely predictable movement pattern and always appear in the same place at the same time. Quite frankly, if specifically placed challenges that test my knowledge of the game in a fair and predictable way, just as the Medusa Heads do, is something that I can expect in Shovel Knight then I'm afraid I can't see that as a negative.

I got interested in this game when I saw Epicnamebro's video preview of it on Youtube. Nice to see that the game seems to have delivered.

Now here's hoping it's also released on the EU 3DS E-shop in the foreseeable future.

I got this game as soon as it came out (around 1pm for me), and then suddenly it was dinner time. So thanks, Yacht Games for stealing my entire day. I'm not sure if I mean that sarcastically or not.

Uratoh:
Ok, having bought it, played it, gotten through the first few levels (and an hour or so), the death mechanic is both a bit exaggerated and still annoying. it appears to be about 1/3 or 1/4 of your total unspent gold, that will manifest as floating money bags about where you died. it's not ultra harsh, aside from if you died from falling into a bottomless pit...in which case, those bags are going to be floating over the pit, likely out of your reach.

It's my experience that the bags will float up a decent ways when you die in a pit. Only once have I died in such a way that one of my money bags couldn't be reached. I'd say that's a small price to pay for not having to deal with an arbitrary life system.

Valderis:
Fuuuuuck! So it has a shitty losing mechanic? I was so hoping this game wouldn't have any bullshit in it.

I guess that's just impossible these days.

Oh gaming, when will you finally grow up?

A game is always going to have some penalty for dying. For what it's worth, the upgrades aren't so vital that not being able to afford them will hinder you in any great way.

Valderis:
Fuuuuuck! So it has a shitty losing mechanic? I was so hoping this game wouldn't have any bullshit in it.

I guess that's just impossible these days.

Oh gaming, when will you finally grow up?

Oh no, slight penalties for death. How horrid that you lose a small amount of gold that you can easily get back when you die.

Also while I understand where Jim is coming from I think he over exaggerates the "Medusa Head" moments a bit. I've run up against a few of them here and there, but there are several items in the game that make it easy to get past these moments. Heck one item even gives you invincibility for 3 seconds and can be used literally at any point, even mid jump. Why not play the game before saying the game is BS. If nothing else watch a Let's Play before being so harsh.

WhiteTigerShiro:
I'd say that's a small price to pay for not having to deal with an arbitrary life system.

A game is always going to have some penalty for dying.

Sorry but with that kind of an attitude to a problem that has plagued video-games since their inception it will never go away.

There is simply no good reason to penalize the player for making a mistake. The natural course of cause and effect is enough, we don't need people adding on extra little fuck-yous to the player on top of those. It's just annoying, and yet they keep doing it. It's fucking bullshit.

EDIT:
And please don't act like an abused spouse with your; "I'd say that's a small price to pay for not having to deal with an arbitrary life system." There should never have been a life system in the first place, that only makes sense in the old days with arcade machines, it has no place on our home computers. You act as if we deserve to have life systems or other bullshit in our games. What we deserve are proper games without bullshit mechanics that fuck us over for no reason.

I picked it up on 3DS like the moment 9am struck the west coast yesterday. I had since made it up to the 2nd level of the Fortress and I didn't find any part of the game too difficult or unfair.

The only REALLY challenging bits were Plague Knight because he is a fucking fleaman on speed, and Propeller Knight's level because it was almost too awesome. Bouncing on cannon balls over large pits, and having crazy wind direction shifts that blow you up and down or up and to the right alternately was pretty crazy.

I also initially cried foul at a room in the first fortress level until I realized I had to watch the raindrops like in Metroid Prime.

Honestly pretty much every level so far (I probably have 1-2 to go) has had something really great, and challenging, or unusual. Some of them honestly make me squee in delight.

There are so many freaking secrets!

I still haven't found some stuff in Polar/Propeller and thats just what I KNOW I've missed.

The bonus levels are even harder and they are FUN.

The bosses are easily on par or better than any Mega Man boss I've fought and I've played practically all of them (the ones in this style anyways).

The first 2 bosses are pretty easy, but fun and they each have their quirks. Then things get progressively more difficult.

I'm one of those people that prefers to do Mega Buster only runs on Mega Man games through the levels, only using the sub weapons as required. This game however scares me at the prospect of ever getting the Feat where you beat the game with no relics.

The Feat system is like the one in MM9 but far more forgiving. For example there isn't a Feat for taking no damage the entire game. There are ones for collecting no money, spending no money, no damage on a level, on a boss, no deaths, no falling in pits etc. so you can tackle them all together or bit by bit as you like.

The one where you beat the game under 1h30m strikes me as being possibly the hardest one as its a pretty beefy game. The levels themselves are a happy medium between say Mega Man 2, and the ridiculously long ones with little to no checkpoints in your more well known Mega Man fan games.

On the subject of money, there are several things to buy, but you should never be in need of cash. There is plenty even if you die often. You can totally get everything you need money for easily with plenty to spare and then its more like having a high score.

Every Relic is useful (though I rarely found myself using the bouncy ball outside of Plague Knight simply to make my life easier) and fun to use. The magic system is not overly restrictive, so you will always have mp for your items if you don't go nuts.

There is even an armor set that gives you 50 more than max mp, and enemies drop more mana pots, at the cost of taking extra damage in case you really wanna burn them with fire.

There are a variety of armors, and some shovel upgrades. I'm surprised there weren't more shovel upgrades though.

The game is FUNNY! While there are plenty of groan worthy puns, a few are quite laughable.

And most importantly there is the Troupple King. Long may his stem grow!

If you are a fan of Wayforward's Shantae series, then this game will probably resolve every thing you were disappointed with in them.

Its much longer, it has more characters, it has better combat, magic, items, music, challenge, and so one. It even arguably has better dancing, though it IS so far lacking in skimpy outfits and cute monkeys.

I eagerly await all the additional (I believe it will be free) content on the way in the future, as well as any future games from Yachtclub. They are the real deal, and I hope they take off like Fromsoftware or Atlus which are just about the only 2 companies left that make the games I like to play.

Valderis:
Fuuuuuck! So it has a shitty losing mechanic? I was so hoping this game wouldn't have any bullshit in it.

I guess that's just impossible these days.

Oh gaming, when will you finally grow up?

Its really not that bad - you lose some money when you die, but if you make it back to where you lost it on your next life you can get it all back. If you're having trouble getting enough money to get upgrades you can always replay earlier stages to farm a bit - as it isn't a finite resource. I haven't really had a problem with it to be honest, I'm about halfway through the game and I can count the number of times I've permanently lost money on one hand.

Really more than anything the most important thing is to explore and keep your eyes open for the secret areas where the games sub-weapons are, because properly using those can make your life much easier. There's one that grants you a few seconds of invincibility in particular that is handy for some of the trickier platforming sections.

Honestly, the problem with this game is just the contrary. You can buy too much power too early.

Mangue Surfer:
Honestly, the problem with this game is just the contrary. You can buy too much power too early.

how do you figure? you don't get to upgrade your weapon until the second bunch of knights area, health and mana upgrades are expensive enough to need at least a level or more to get later on, and there's not really a way to "buy power".

Valderis:

WhiteTigerShiro:
I'd say that's a small price to pay for not having to deal with an arbitrary life system.

A game is always going to have some penalty for dying.

Sorry but with that kind of an attitude to a problem that has plagued video-games since their inception it will never go away.

There is simply no good reason to penalize the player for making a mistake. The natural course of cause and effect is enough, we don't need people adding on extra little fuck-yous to the player on top of those. It's just annoying, and yet they keep doing it. It's fucking bullshit.

so basically you want every game to be kirby's epic yarn, where you could never die, because its "annoying". yet you claim the "natural course of cause and effect" is enough. news flash. Cause: You goofed up and died. oops. Effect: you lost *life, items, gold, experience, thing*, better do something different so that doesn't happen again.

if it was "oops, you died, pat on the head, here you go on your way" it removes the challenge. games are SUPPOSED to challenge and make us think and weigh the risks and rewards. those little "Fuck-you's" are needed, and this games one is pretty nice compared to some.

Slegiar Dryke:

so basically you want every game to be kirby's epic yarn, where you could never die, because its "annoying". yet you claim the "natural course of cause and effect" is enough. news flash. Cause: You goofed up and died. oops. Effect: you lost *life, items, gold, experience, thing*, better do something different so that doesn't happen again.

if it was "oops, you died, pat on the head, here you go on your way" it removes the challenge. games are SUPPOSED to challenge and make us think and weigh the risks and rewards. those little "Fuck-you's" are needed, and this games one is pretty nice compared to some.

You just don't get it. There is a difference between; oh shit I fucked up and died, I lost everything I earned since my last save, now I need to reload my saved game and start over from there. And, oh shit I fucked up and died, now I'm placed back at an earlier save point but the bastards also took something from me.

It would be fine if you lost everything you got since your last save point, as long as the level itself reverts back to the way it was as well so that you at least have the opportunity to get it all back. But platformers don't always work in this straightforward manner and feel the need to add on unwanted bullshit, like using live systems or taking away money or points or power-ups.

Valderis:

You just don't get it. There is a difference between; oh shit I fucked up and died, I lost everything I earned since my last save, now I need to reload my saved game and start over from there. And, oh shit I fucked up and died, now I'm placed back at an earlier save point but the bastards also took something from me.

It would be fine if you lost everything you got since your last save point, as long as the level itself reverts back to the way it was as well so that you at least have the opportunity to get it all back. But platformers don't always work in this straightforward manner and feel the need to add on unwanted bullshit, like using live systems or taking away money or points or power-ups.

Wait... what... so your problem with the game is that there is a chance to lose a very small amount of gold if you screw up a few times. You would rather have to do the entire level over, instead of losing 1 minute of progress and a chance to get back the 30% of your gold you just lost. Most people don't like huge time sinks like that. And hey if you want, the game literally saves at the beginning of each level, so if you die you can do a soft reset on the game, and start over from the beginning and spend 10 - 15 minutes doing the exact same thing that you just did. I would feel sorry for you when it came to the boss fights though, I mean you COULD easily get your money back after dying to a boss by going into the room again and spending the first 2 seconds of the boss battle recollecting your gold. I mean you may get hit once and lose 1 HP of the 10-20 that you have, but I guess it would be more fun to get to the boss battle, die while trying to learn how to fight them, and have to go through the entire level all over again.

I really don't see how small and menial punishment mechanics are "holding games back". Especially since your alternative is an even greater punishment mechanic.

Frozengale:

Wait... what... so your problem with the game is that there is a chance to lose a very small amount of gold if you screw up a few times. You would rather have to do the entire level over, instead of losing 1 minute of progress and a chance to get back the 30% of your gold you just lost. Most people don't like huge time sinks like that. And hey if you want, the game literally saves at the beginning of each level, so if you die you can do a soft reset on the game, and start over from the beginning and spend 10 - 15 minutes doing the exact same thing that you just did. I would feel sorry for you when it came to the boss fights though, I mean you COULD easily get your money back after dying to a boss by going into the room again and spending the first 2 seconds of the boss battle recollecting your gold. I mean you may get hit once and lose 1 HP of the 10-20 that you have, but I guess it would be more fun to get to the boss battle, die while trying to learn how to fight them, and have to go through the entire level all over again.

I really don't see how small and menial punishment mechanics are "holding games back". Especially since your alternative is an even greater punishment mechanic.

You are still not getting it. It's the difference between the way something fundamentally works (cause and effect) and arbitrary punishment by developers.

Valderis:

You are still not getting it. It's the difference between the way something fundamentally works (cause and effect) and arbitrary punishment by developers.

Honestly it sounds like you're the one not getting it. Actions in life (causes) have consequences (effects). you claim there's a problem with what is one of the base principles of games from their beginning, that of, by the cause of making a wrong move, you earn the effect of having try again at the cost of something. all the way back to pong, if you didn't move, the ball would score a goal. its not "arbitrary punishment" pushed by developers nowadays, its something that's been around for all of gaming history, following exactly the formula of cause and effect. if you still are going to say its bull and unfair stuff pushed by developers, despite all the reasons such effects are good things to make a game more fun or challenging based on how they're implemented.........well, like I said before....your standards sound a little bit screwballed...

Frozengale's right, the alternative could be things being even harder. would you prefer it like the really old games then, where if you die, you start at the very beginning of the game?

Slegiar Dryke:

Honestly it sounds like you're the one not getting it. Actions in life (causes) have consequences (effects). you claim there's a problem with what is one of the base principles of games from their beginning, that of, by the cause of making a wrong move, you earn the effect of having try again at the cost of something. all the way back to pong, if you didn't move, the ball would score a goal. its not "arbitrary punishment" pushed by developers nowadays, its something that's been around for all of gaming history, following exactly the formula of cause and effect. if you still are going to say its bull and unfair stuff pushed by developers, despite all the reasons such effects are good things to make a game more fun or challenging based on how they're implemented.........well, like I said before....your standards sound a little bit screwballed...

Frozengale's right, the alternative could be things being even harder. would you prefer it like the really old games then, where if you die, you start at the very beginning of the game?

There's nothing wrong with such a high difficulty setting in a game, but it's not my thing and I would rather see something like that as optional.

There are alternative ways of progression and save states, none of them are inherently unfair or punish the player.

That's just something that people like you choose to ignore while saying it could have been worse. Sure it could have been a hell of a lot worse, it could have taken away a random improvement each time you died, it could have put the flying bag of gold on a timer, it could have spawned extra enemies into the game to make the game harder with each new mistake you make. They could have done a hell of a lot worse that all of that, but that doesn't mean that they should, that doesn't mean that those kinds of bullshit are inherent effects of using save states.

But hey, keep saying it could have been worse, that way it'll never get any better. Maybe developers will even get the misguided idea people actually like to be fucked over by arbitrary shit like this and do some more of it.

Valderis:

Frozengale:

Wait... what... so your problem with the game is that there is a chance to lose a very small amount of gold if you screw up a few times. You would rather have to do the entire level over, instead of losing 1 minute of progress and a chance to get back the 30% of your gold you just lost. Most people don't like huge time sinks like that. And hey if you want, the game literally saves at the beginning of each level, so if you die you can do a soft reset on the game, and start over from the beginning and spend 10 - 15 minutes doing the exact same thing that you just did. I would feel sorry for you when it came to the boss fights though, I mean you COULD easily get your money back after dying to a boss by going into the room again and spending the first 2 seconds of the boss battle recollecting your gold. I mean you may get hit once and lose 1 HP of the 10-20 that you have, but I guess it would be more fun to get to the boss battle, die while trying to learn how to fight them, and have to go through the entire level all over again.

I really don't see how small and menial punishment mechanics are "holding games back". Especially since your alternative is an even greater punishment mechanic.

You are still not getting it. It's the difference between the way something fundamentally works (cause and effect) and arbitrary punishment by developers.

"Arbitrary Punishment" is the "Effect" in the cause and effect loop that is gaming. It is was what brings difficultly and weight to a game. All games revolve around some form of positive and negative feedback. Positive feedback is usually in the form of new items, high scores, more gameplay, etc. Negative feedback can range from the very mild (Kirby's Epic Yarn) to the very harsh (Permadeath). There is no "right" or "wrong" way to implement negative feedback, there is just different ways to do it. And it can't really be "Arbitrary Punishment" because everything about a game is arbitrary. But if you want to have a game that involves challenge then you have to have some form of Negative Feedback. Without negative feedback there is no consequence to your decisions. Failure not being an option just means that you are basically watching a very tedious movie with minimal input. If Mario can not die, then what is the point of playing? There is no skill involved in beating the game since beating the game is nothing more then a product of putting in the minimum amount of time to move Mario from one side of the screen to the next. For a game to have Challenge and require Skill there must be negative feedback. Even what you described in your previous post was negative feedback, just of a different variety, and just as arbitrary as Shovel Knight's Negative Feedback. If you don't like Shovel Knight's punishment system then that is fine, but don't go saying that they are somehow ruining gaming because they have a punishment system that incorporates more modern forms of negative feedback (losing "currency" with a chance to reclaim it, as popularized by From Software).

I finished the game and ran through new game + aka hard mode. I really liked the final levels, evil rats and all.

I have only one feat left to achieve. The <1h30m speedrun, and its probably going to be a pain as I need to cut out a lot of time.

Valderis:
Snip

Frozengale:
Snip

I think what Valderis is getting at, is that they'd prefer, say, a Super Meat Boy style mechanic where you die and then respawn at the last checkpoint, but that's your *only* punishment. Your items, EXP, etc would be exactly the same as when you first passed that checkpoint. All you lose is a little bit of progress.

Am I on the money at all?

StriderShinryu:
Eh, I'd say the comparisons to Medusa Heads are rather poor, not in that it's not a style of difficulty found in Shovel Knight but in that the Medusa Heads really aren't that bad. Yes they can be annoying and are often placed in a such a way that they cause you difficulties, but they also have an extremely predictable movement pattern and always appear in the same place at the same time. Quite frankly, if specifically placed challenges that test my knowledge of the game in a fair and predictable way, just as the Medusa Heads do, is something that I can expect in Shovel Knight then I'm afraid I can't see that as a negative.

Pretty much exactly what I was going to say, but I am way late! Many people don't seem to realize that they move in a perfectly predictable sine wave pattern and are thus only a danger to people who don't pay attention.
I also sometimes want a game that I can sleep play through and never have to pay attention, maybe even chat as I play (I played World of Warcraft for years and loved it!), but it would be bad if every game was like that.
In other words: Yeah, bring on the medusa heads!

ScrabbitRabbit:

I think what Valderis is getting at, is that they'd prefer, say, a Super Meat Boy style mechanic where you die and then respawn at the last checkpoint, but that's your *only* punishment. Your items, EXP, etc would be exactly the same as when you first passed that checkpoint. All you lose is a little bit of progress.

Am I on the money at all?

That's one way of doing it. I would not call it a punishment though. If it where to take away something from you, like say money, then that would be a punishment. Having checkpoints is simply a nice feature that makes a game far more accessible to people who do not have the skill, time or patience to play it otherwise.

Valderis:

ScrabbitRabbit:

I think what Valderis is getting at, is that they'd prefer, say, a Super Meat Boy style mechanic where you die and then respawn at the last checkpoint, but that's your *only* punishment. Your items, EXP, etc would be exactly the same as when you first passed that checkpoint. All you lose is a little bit of progress.

Am I on the money at all?

That's one way of doing it. I would not call it a punishment though. If it where to take away something from you, like say money, then that would be a punishment. Having checkpoints is simply a nice feature that makes a game far more accessible to people who do not have the skill, time or patience to play it otherwise.

I can definitely understand that point of view then, and can agree that having games that are accessible to people of those and other criteria makes sense. However it still is a very subjective thing to say that such more punishing consequences for death are damaging games as a whole. It very much objectively helps the industry and leaves room for the creation of the less punishing games, or vice versa, to have the harder ones around as well. Its like the old pasta sauce recipe story: there is no perfect sauce, only perfect sauces. same for games....there is no perfect game, only perfect games ^^ I suppose the easier way to sum things up is to say everyone has got opinions, but *shrugs* feels a bit like a cop out XD

It's really not that difficult. Sure, I died a lot, but frequent checkpoints and infinite lives make progression easy.

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