With the King of Cards and Showdown expansions coming out this week, I figured now would be a good time to reflect on the three prior campaigns of Shovel Knight.
I love this game. Each level is challenging, full of charm, and a ton of fun to play. Every boss is memorable, with the perfect blend of challenge and enjoyment, and all the bonus bosses are just as good as the regular bosses. All the side characters in the different towns are lovable and goofy, with my favorite being the Trouple King and his beautiful dances (I have shown that dance cycle to three friends who have never seen Shovel Knight before, and they all said that they needed the game after seeing it).
And the content! Good god, there has been so much free extra stuff that I don’t know where to start! If you picked up the very first version of the game for $15 back in the day, you’ll get every expansion for completely free. And while the price has steadily climbed over the years, it does make sense: come the 9th of this month, Shovel Knight will be 5 games in one, with one of those games being a versus fighting game similar to Smash Bros.
I’m so fucking excited for that.
But the best part of Shovel Knight are the campaigns. As of right now, at the publishing of this post, there are three full campaigns centering around three separate characters. The first is the titular Shovel Knight, a tiny blue hero with his spade of justice (he’s my second favorite). Then there was Plague Knight in the first expansion, Plague of Shadows, the mad scientist who is out to create the ultimate potion and woe his beautiful assistant (he’s a ton of fun, but he’s still my least favorite). Then, most recently, we got the Specter Knight campaign in Specter of Torment, featuring the story of how the Order of No Quarter gathered in the first place with the added bonus of Specter Knights tragic past.
That last one is my absolute favorite.
All three of these campaigns feature challenging and fun platforming, plenty of collectibles, and unique and fun (mostly) final boss fights. I’ve played each one of them about five times now. At this point, I can speed run the Shovel Knight and Specter Knight campaigns in just over an hour.
I’ve played this game a lot.
Now, I’m sure you’re waiting for it. Waiting for me to talk about the aesthetic of the game. Well, what do you want me to say? It’s really fucking good. The refined 8-bit graphics are a visual spectacle that make my eyes orgasm every time I look at them, and the music is… good god, the music is so fucking good! I own all three currently available soundtracks, and I am going to add the King of Cards music to that collection as soon as possible. In terms of presentation, this game is an undeniable A+++.
I could go on for hours and hours, talking about the tight controls, plethora of bonus content (including a super hard challenge mode and multiple New Game + modes) and console-specific bonus bosses (including mother fucking KRATOS and the BATTLETOADS) but I think I’ll call it here. I do have other things I need to do today.
If you haven’t played Shovel Knight before, now is the time. A physical version for the Switch is coming out alongside the final expansion, and all the other versions already have physicals and downloadable versions. Now is the perfect time to get into this modern retro classic for the first time.
And if you’re like me and played it before… play it again. And again. Maybe a third time if you’re feeling efficient. Just make sure you’re all warmed up and ready for King of Cards and Showdown.
Is now a good time to mention that this post wasn’t sponsored?