Shovel Knight is a 2D Platform Game by Yacht Club Games, an Indie developer consisting of former employees of Way Forward Technologies, set for the Wii U, Nintendo 3DS, and Steam (including Mac and Linux). Featuring a Retraux 8-bit graphical style and inspired by the likes of Mega Man, Castlevania, and Dark Souls, Shovel Knight is a game that seeks to pay homage to the 8-bit era, while also...ahem, digging out its own place in the Video Game landscape.The story goes that our eponymous hero was once part of a legendary adventuring duo with his partner, Shield Knight. During their travels, Shovel Knight and Shield Knight visit the mysterious Tower of Fate. After they encounter a cursed amulet within the tower, Shovel Knight loses consciousness, eventually waking up outside the (now sealed) tower - alone. His spirit broken after losing his best friend and ally, Shovel Knight retires from adventuring and resigns himself to a life of solitude. Unbeknownst to Shovel Knight, however, his self-imposed exile has left the land without champions, making it ripe for conquering by the evil Enchantress and the eight dastardly knights of her Order of No Quarter. Discovering one day that the Tower of Fate has been unsealed, Shovel Knight realizes that only he can defeat the villains wreaking havoc on the land. Setting off with his trusty Shovel Blade, Shovel Knight must fight his way through The Order of No Quarter and their minions, reach the lair of the Enchantress and dispense shovel justice once and for all!The game was released on June 26, 2014. However there are several features still to be implanted in the game which will be free thanks to the (very) successful kickstarter:
An Aesop: The game rewards you with treasure and an achievement for properly putting out Shovel Knight's campfires before leaving them.
Ain't Too Proud to Beg: Near the end a Type 2 happens. King Knight of all people does this to Shovel Knight after he defeats the entire Order of No Quarter in a Battle Royale and leaves them literally hanging from the stage.
Annoying Laugh: Apparently Polar Knight has one. (It's like water torture.)
Another Side, Another Story: Specter Knight, Plague Knight, and King Knight were selected by fan vote and will be made playable outside of the game's multiplayer, complete with their own altered versions of the normal story.
Antepiece: The game is not shy about these. For almost every special gimmick in a level you will have a chance to test and learn it before facing it again with hazards. Taken Up to Eleven in the Hall of Champions, the entire level is an enormous Antepiece which teaches you how to deal properly with ghosts before fighting a boss version of them.
If you die in a duel against the Wandering Travelers the gold will still be there if you challenge the same opponent again (as long as you don't die again elsewhere).
Chester will sell the relics in the first village if you happen to skip or not find them in its stage.
The final boss has two: If you die in the second phase you'll restart right there instead of the first phase and if Shield Knight falls in one of the pits created by the boss she'll hop back in a moment.
Book Ends: You start the game with five new music sheets going through a stage with unbreakable checkpoints. Assuming you find the secret area in the last stage, you end the game with five new music sheets going through a stage with unbreakable checkpoints.
Boring, but Practical: The Flare Wand found in Pridemoor Keep, it's likely to be the first relic to be found (and bought) by players. It simply launches a rather slow moving fireball which will travel straight until rights an enemy or obstacle... Which is one of the most useful tools to kill enemies positioned in ledges just ready to knock you into a pit. It is also highly useful to damage bosses from a safe distance in most cases.
Boss Arena Urgency: Downplayed as both bosses will "fix" it given time, but it will kill an uncautious player.
Polar Knight who digs up one hit kill spikes, but he will make snow fall from the top arena to cover them.
The Enchantress who will destroy parts of the arena with her magic, but will also fix it occasionally. Longer fights increase the urgency as the amount of blocks she destroys before repairing the arena will increase.
Bonus Boss: The director for a day bosses, Reize Seatlan, Phantom Striker, Mr. Hat, and The Baz, are this. So is the boss of the Hall of Champions.
Boss Corridor: Each of the main stages has a breather room containing a checkpoint and sometimes hidden food before the boss.
The boss themes for the Order of No Quarter and the Black Knight incorporate the bosses' respective level themes.
Black Knight's second theme takes this further, as a remix of both the first level theme and the game's main theme.
Both of the Enchantress's themes are remixes of the game's main theme and Shield Knight's theme.
Boss Rush: In the second part of the Tower of Fate, Shovel Knight crashes the Order's dinner, forcing him to fight all of them one by one. Luckily, every time you beat one of them, you get a full-health chicken. Except on Hard Mode, of course...
Bottomless Pits: A platforming staple. Watch your step! Made all the more perilous because some of the platforms that would protect you from the bottomless pits are destructible, either by your pogo strikes or by certain enemy attacks. It is entirely possible to chip away the last bit of a platform you were standing on and fall to your own self-inflicted death.
Cheat Code: Done by way of putting in a specific code when naming a profile. Most famous is "Butt Mode", which replaces key words in the script with the word "butt." Players have since discovered literally hundreds of codes.
Continuing Is Painful: Dying while carrying a lot of gold can result in this. Especially if you chose to break all checkpoints and the gold went at an unfortunate spot. Might as well pause, pick "Return to the map" and retry the entire stage without getting a point in the death score.
Controllable Helplessness: A non-malicious example: you can move the around making Shovel Knight shake while he's asleep. He'll only wake up when you jump, though.
Convection Schmonvection: Lava won't do anything to Shovel Knight as long as he doesn't get unnecessarily close to it, you can even turn it into a bouncing jelly!
Cool Airship: Propeller Knight's level. There is also one located above the Armor Outpost.
Cool, but Inefficient: The Ornate Armor. It's made of gold! Wearing it throws sparkles with every move, turns your jumps into flips, and even allows you to nail the landing when using transportation catapults. But as far as actual gameplay effects go, it's identical to the starting armor.
Cool Helmet: Nearly everyone: Shovel Knight himself, the knights of the Order of No Quarter (bar Plague Knight, who wears more of a mask than a helmet), the Black Knight, the Bard, Mr. Hat (who wears hats on top of his helmet) and Phantom Striker.
Cool Mask: Sported by Plague Knight. Tinker Knight also dons a nice looking welding mask.
Creator Cameo: The Bard is quite obviously the game's composer, Jake Kaufman, in a suit of armor.
Death Throws: A very rare example where this is exploited: during the boss rush every time Shovel Knight downs a memeber of the Order of No Quarter they are simply flung out of the stage, but once all are defeated they are left holding each other from a Bottomless Pit in a Chain of People.
Shovel Knight can jump and plant his shovel on enemies heads. Additionally he can hit enemies below him by using a fishing rod or a Throwing Anchor.
The Black Knight can also jump and shovel plant. And in his final battle he can rain down meteors on the arena.
Plague Knight will occasionally jump very high and frenetically throw down bombs.
Propeller Knight will call for a backup airship that will keep firing cannonballs to destroy parts of his boss arena while limiting Shovel Knight's movement.
Polar Knight will jump and then shovel plant as well. It will reveals one hit kill spikes.
Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: If a bit pricey, every time you die you get about 25% of your current gold scattered around the place you last died. But if you broke all checkpoints then you'll get thrown to the beginning of the stage.
Defeat Means Friendship: Shovel Knight and the Order of No Quarter end the story on friendly terms. This is especially true if Shovel Knight chooses to rescue them after the final Boss Rush.
Chaos Orb can cause a lot of damage against bosses as long it's properly used. Given most bosses move a lot this isn't always easy.
The Charge Handle deals two points of damage but when charging movement speed is reduced to a crawl. Using it requires more planning and precision than the Dynamo Mail's charge attack.
The Conjurer's Coat gives 50% more magic capacity and makes enemies drop magic jars more often, but Shovel Knight will take extra damage while wearing it.
During the Boss Rush in New Game+ one of the plates before the energy refill will be a bomb. Make it explode against a boss and it will eat four life points from them.
Difficulty Spike: The game tells you the gloves are off on the second tier of bosses by ramping up the Bottomless Pits and instant death opportunities. The first stage of the Tower of Fate kicks the difficulty up even more by mixing all elements from previous stages in very cruel ways.
Disney Death: Shield Knight is forced to stay behind in the Tower of Fate as it crumbles, holding off a final attack from the Enchantress. She reappears in The Stinger, with a heavy limp and having lost her shield.
Doppelgänger Attack: The Giant Ghost in Hall of Champions will occasionally use this trick to throw off the player.
Evil Counterpart: Polar Knight. He's the only one of the Order who uses a (snow) shovel. And as described just below, he's one of the few bosses that Shovel Knight knew personally. For all we know, he may have picked up his shovel because of Polar Knight.
The Black Knight is a more direct example, having a similar appearance to our protagonist, same weapon, and identical attacks.
Evil Former Friend: Polar Knight seems to have been on good footing with Shovel Knight before the Enchantress created the Order.
The Black Knight seems to be this if the dialogue is any indication. To the point that he's one of the few obvious enemies Shovel Knight doesn't want to fight and is able to figure out his motivations by his actions alone.
Evil Laugh: The Black Knight and Propeller Knight give one before they battle.
Evil Genius: Tinker Knight, Plague Knight, and The Enchantress.
Evil Knockoff: The Slime Shovel Knights found in the Explodatorium.
Expy: The Order of No Quarter share quite a lot in common with the Robot Masters. Not any one set, mind, but the concept. They're a group highly memorable bosses who wait at the end of specifically themed levels, have great visual designs and a lot of personality for one-off bosses, fight with very specific gimmicks, and are fought a second time in a Boss Rush toward the end of the game. They even have a very similar naming scheme. The one thing they don't do is give a weapon or a skill upon defeat. That's what finding Chester is all about.
Also, Shovel Knight and Shield Knight are expies of Mega Man and Proto Man.
Polar Knight gets some flak for having a cheap one-hit kill maneuver which is digging up spikes in his arena. It's almost impossible to avoid the spikes and his attacks without abusing of the Phase Locket or using an Ichor of Boldness.
The Enchantress' first phase. You fight her on a arena consisting entirely of breakable blocks which she will start to destroy eventually and can even be broken accidentally by the player. You can be doing a perfect job avoiding her attacks, but get hit a little too close to a gap and you'll have to restart the entire thing.
Foreshadowing: Black Knight is never depicted alongside the members of the Order of No Quarter. This is a quick hint about his alignment. A more meta instance for this foreshadowing is that the achievement for defeating a member of the Order without taking damage cannot be gained when fighting Black Knight.
Funny Background Event: In the final Boss Rush against the Order of No Quarter, each one will come to fight Shovel Knight individually while the others merely watch and wait... while eating or drinking. Special mention goes to Treasure Knight who will raise his diving helmet to eat something, although it still won't show his face. Plague Knight will pull out a straw dramatically to drink while he waits for his turn.
Gender Flip: A planned mode for the game will switch the genders of every major character. The Enchantress becomes the Enchanter, the Order of No Quarter becomes all female, and so on. The game's dialogue will even be changed slightly to reflect it.
God Mode: One of the cheat codes grants this. Shovel Knight is completely invincible, even to spikes and Bottomless Pits, and he also gains a massive speed boost in his movement, can jump extremely high, and starts with all relics with each having infinite uses. Oh, and treasure is automatically drawn towards him. Another cheat code has the same effects except enlarging Shovel Knight's sprite, having his armour change colour every time he jumps, all Order of No Quarter stages already cleared, and all wandering travellers already defeated.
Bonus Feature Failure: However, the said speed boost also makes Shovel Knight slide uncontrollably around at times, which makes it harder to get through the crushing traps midway in the first Tower of Fate stage, the one thing the invincibility cheat doesn't protect against, especially if you try to go for the music sheet hidden along the way.
Fell into a Bottomless Pit and your money is in an impossible-to-reach place? You can try to fish it back. An NPC tells you this, but you might miss him.
There are few music sheets that are almost impossible to find unless you think of exploring every corner of every stage. Even those who are likely to kill you in the process.
You can ease the difficulty of New Game+ by a whole lot. The New Game+ turns almost every piece of food in silver plates, and even from mini-bosses, into bombs. If you want recovery items (aside from Ichor of Renewal and the random apple or carrot in a pile) you'll have to fish and since you had plenty of food during normal gameplay, chances are you'll have totally forget about the Fishing Rod other than to catch gold fish which don't heal you.
Harder Than Hard: Though accessible only through cheats, one can start a game where enemies do four times their normal damage.
Hat of Flight: Propeller Knight's method of travel. Can also be re-purposed as a fan to blow Shovel Knight off the stage.
Heel-Face Turn: In the "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue, all of the Order of No Quarter go on to either use their abilities for good or - like Specter Knight and Propeller Knight - simply stop doing evil and go on to have fun with their lives... with the exceptions of King Knight (who is forced to scrub the true King's floor), Treasure Knight (who gets all of his ill gotten gains taken from him), and possibly Polar Knight (who is last seen on a mountaintop staring off into the sunset. Special mention goes to Tinker Knight, who turned his stage into a workshop and now spends his days making toys for children.
Kung-Fu Proof Mook: The knight type of enemy. They will block a frontal assault or even a jumping one.
Lame Pun Reaction: Toader looks even more grumpy every time Shovel Knight tells him a pun.
Ledge Bats: Not exactly bats, but any enemy close to an edge will be eager to catch a reckless player and push him into an early demise. Played to a highly evil degree in the Clockwork Tower, where enemies with the exact same movement pattern of Medusa Heads will more than often make Shovel Knight plummet to his doom in a Bottomless Pit.
Lethal Joke Item: The Fishing Rod. It's only for fishing right? Wrong. Besides being useful to recover money in case you died, it's the only item besides the Alchemic Coin that deals an entire health point of damage towards the bosses. It is also your only mean to recover health in New Game+ without wasting a chalice of Ichor of Renewal or coming across a rare carrot or apple.
Lost Forever: If you move away from the last camp without picking the Meal Ticket you won't be able to get it until New Game+.
Luck-Based Mission: The order of the Knights fought at the Boss Rush is random. You can face the bosses you have the most trouble in succession or Polar Knight (who has an instant kill maneuver) last. This is especially aggravating in New Game+ where you only get a refill after every other encounter.
Speedrunning the game while there are many opponents wandering around the map, especially when the Tower of Fate is unlocked; you may end up having either the Phantom Striker or Black Knight in the only path to the stage and even entering and quitting a stage may not help as they can walk even further.
Made of Explodium: A good amount of things explodes in the Explodatorium, including rats, bombs and certain platforms.
Mega Manning: In a sense, Shovel Knight can buy several items from Chester in the stages of the Order of No Quarter and every item has a somewhat similar function to either the bosses or enemies unique to that level.
The game isn't insanely difficult, but certain stages require a lot of precision with jumps.
New Game+ turns every piece of food but those randomly found in piles of stuff into bombs and makes enemies and bosses do double damage. It also gives only two checkpoints throughout most stages: one in the middle and another right before the boss. Additionally you will only get energy refills once per two battles in the Boss Rush. Also during the battle against The Enchantress the spell she uses to "fix" the arena is much less effective.
Not-So-Harmless Villain: Tinker Knight is a funny little guy who can't fight to save his own life, right? Not so much when he gets into his MASSIVE mecha, though.
Nothing Is Scarier: The final segment of the game has no enemies, just blocks rising when you draw close enough, but there are several Bottomless Pits scattered throughout it. All while an eerie music plays raising the tension.
Not Completely Useless: The Ornate Armor only offers cosmetic changes, and thus offers no benefits over any other armor... except during sequences where everything turns dark. Even if you can't see Shovel Knight himself, you'll be able to track him by the sparkles of his armor.
The Dust Knuckles. Although it has a low MP consumption, it's short range makes it at best situational to use it... However it's the only thing, besides a charged attack, that can punch through the shield of those pesky knight mooks.
One-Hit Kill: As per tradition, spikes, holes, lava, and crushing walls/ceiling will instantly down Shovel Knight. Period.
Path of Most Resistance: Though often hidden or obscured, paths with traps and enemies will almost always have something worth your trouble.
Pet Monstrosity: The two griffin minibosses fought in Pridemoor Keep are revealed by the Deposed King to be "Plume" and "Beaky", his pets.
Power Copying: A downplayed example, but most of the relics you can find and buy within a given stage emulate part of the stage boss's attack pattern or an attack from of one of the distinct enemies introduced in that stage.
Pungeon Master: Croaker. Trying to cheer up Toader results in Shovel Knight himself becoming one of these.
Red Oni, Blue Oni: In full effect with the rivalry between Shovel Knight and the Black Knight. Their final duel is essentially an 8-bit version of Dante vs. Vergil from Devil May Cry.
Retraux: An 8-bit style done out of love, not convenience. The tribute to 8-bit games is deliberately idealized though, so the occasional cheat is done to improve the presentation.
Riding the Bomb: Must be done in Treasure Knight's stage. Also used to get on top of Tinker Knight's mecha.
Rise to the Challenge: In the final part of Clockwork Tower. Comes back with a vengeance in the second stage of the Tower of Fate.
RPG Elements: The gems found throughout the levels are a currency for upgrades.
Rule 63: Set to be invoked with a Gender Swap mode in the future.
Schizo Tech: Propeller Knight and Treasure Knight both own an airship and an underwater vessel, respectively, despite the game supposedly being set in medieval times. Tinker Knight is particularly notable, as his specialty is building complex machinery. Possibly Plague Knight as well, since his stage is in an "alchemical lab."
Self-Imposed Challenge: Several have achievements attached to them, ranging from the classic "No Damage", to completing the game without any relic, breaking all checkpoints and not ever dying even once, nor falling into a Bottomless Pit.
The downward thrust attack, and resulting bounce, is taken from Zelda II: The Adventure of Link. It's very similar in gameplay usage and visual style to Ducktales, as well, the remake of which some of the development team worked on.
Each of the eight bosses share the later part of their names, "Knight", not only with each other, but with the protagonist as well. This is very similar to the Mega Man series.
The Troupple King is similar to Mambo and Crazy Tracy from The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening in that he's a fish-like creature who has a lengthy dance sequence (just like Mambo) and that he grants you potions (just like Crazy Tracy).
King Knight's strolling animation is strangely similar to the "Haters Gonna Hate" meme.
The relics work like the subweapons from the Castlevania series, and by default you use relics with the Up+Attack button combination. The Flare Rod behaves similarly to the Knife, and the Throwing Anchor is much like the Axe. The way the Tower of Fate crumbles in the end also seems reminiscent of how Castlevania collapses after Dracula is defeated. Spectre Knight also bears a strong resemblance, in both looks and fighting style, to Death. His stage is also patterned after the NES Castlevania stages.
The aesthetic and music of Tinker Knight's Clockwork Tower is an homage to Metal Man's stage. The boss, at least in his initial phase, can be instantly defeated by his own element.
Shown Their Work: Plague Knight is a whole-sale reference to the plague doctors during the 14th century Europe. His appearance is exactly like that of a plague doctor, and Shovel Knight's claim that Plague Knight is a trickster is a case of the dev team doing their research: some plague doctors were charlatans who charged patients extra for additional treatments and/or false cures and most plague doctors were either second-rate doctors who were otherwise unable to run a successful medical practice or greenhorns looking to make a name for themselves.
Silence, You Fool!: King Knight responds to Shovel Knight's promise to dispense shovel justice with an angry cry of "SILENCE!"
Silliness Switch: Butt Mode which simply replaces most recurring words with the word "Butt" Shovel Knight is renamed "Butt Butt" and Shield Knight becomes "Shield Butt"
Sleep Cute: In The Stinger, Shield Knight drags herself to Shovel Knight's campsite and ends up resting next to him in this fashion.
Some Dexterity Required: The game is designed to only have inputs that an NES control could use, so to use a special weapon, up and attack need to be pressed at the same time. This takes getting used to, particularly with difficult platforming sections that rely on special weapons. Thankfully, an option to use a separate button, rather than up+attack, is also provided.
Or if you've played any Castlevania games before, then it should come naturally to you.
Spikes of Doom: Spikes instantly kill Shovel Knight when he isn't using the Phase Locket or a Ichor of Boldness.
Squishy Wizard: Plague Knight, given his description as "physically weak."
Storming The Tower: The final stages consist of Shovel Knight breaching the defenses outside of the Tower of Fate up to the top to face The Enchantress.
Take That, Audience!: With a touch of Biting-the-Hand Humor. There is a level that is a hall of Kickstarter backers as a minilevel. To get in, you gotta pay gold. Once inside, you learn the whole place is haunted and you have to kill all the ghosts. Once you do, the doorkeeper thanks you for clearing them out, but says something along the lines of "You weren't expecting that when you paid to enter did you? Well you should be careful about paying for things you don't know enough about!" with "paying" being green. The level's music is even called "The Donor's Despair", and the boss music is named "Backed Into A Corner."
Tennis Boss: Several bosses and even a few enemies can have their projectiles reflected back at them if you strike them with your shovel before they land. You can recognize them by the fact that they flash red. When battling Black Knight, not only can you reflect the the purple blasts he fires at you, but on the second and third battles, he'll reflect them right back unless you're too close for him to react.
Try to fish in the lava, you'll only fish those pesky flame fishes. Also fishing near the Troupple King will not make him happy at all. But you'll earn a music sheet for that.
If you catch a fish in the water they will swim instead of flopping everywhere.
If you die by falling into the lake of the Troupple King you won't lose any gold, but you will get chastised by the King for polluting his nice, clean water with your corpse.
Talking to King Knight after the Boss Rush while wearing the Ornate Armor will result in an amusing reaction from him.
If you manage to slip by the overworld battle against the Black Knight and then defeat him in the first Tower of Fate stage, his icon will disappear from the map.
The Faceless: Most of the Order of No Quarter wear helmets, so their faces aren't visible. Shovel Knight himself also counts.
The Reveal: Black Knight is faking his loyalty towards The Enchantress and the Order of No Quarter. He's actually trying to prevent Shovel Knight from reaching The Enchantress in the Tower of Fate not because he's The Rival or wants to prove that he's stronger than him, but because The Enchantress is Shield Knight possessed by a cursed amulet and he's afraid that Shovel Knight might kill her.
The Undead: Specter Knight is a "phantasm" who only sides with The Enchantress in exchange for her prolonging his undeath.
The Unreveal: Nothing about the amulet that caused the events of the game to happen is really told or how the Tower of Fate returned, or anything about The Enchantress' past.
Trick Boss: Tinker Knight's first phase is easier than most of the bosses and can even be one-shotted with a Mobile Gear. However the ground then collapses from under you and the Tinker Knight reappears in a Humongous Mecha.
Utility Weapon: Besides the obvious applications of Shovel Knight's namesake, the Propeller Dagger vaults you through the air and lets you skip certain obstacles entirely, the Mobile Gear can be ridden over spikes and used to give you an edge in jumping challenges, and the Dust Knuckles let you plow through diggable dirt very quickly, even in midair.
Unique Enemy: Most of the Order of No Quarter Stages have one or two enemies that do not recur in either the related treasure stages or the Tower of Fate, such as the hammer-tossing enemies on ladders in Polar Knight's stage. There's also a single instance of a purple fan enemy who blows air upwards (rather than sideways) in Propeller Knight's stage, who exists to provide vertical lift and help you get across a gap you can't jump if you missed the stage's hidden relic.
During Shovel Knight's dream sequences he has the chance to help Shield Knight who is helplessly falling down. Even more so after the first form of the Final Boss, where Shovel Knight finally has the chance to actually save her. However, not catching her just means her shield takes the hit; she isn't hurt; and she still is glad Shovel Knight came for her.
After defeating the Boss Rush before the final battle, you're given the option to pull up the Order of No Quarter from the walls before they can fall. Some of them will offer you their sincere thanks for it.
You don't have to catch Shield Knight in any of the dream sequences. You can just stand there and let her hit the ground every time. You also don't have to catch her when she falls after defeating the Enchantress' first phase.
You can hit The Baz with the shovel while he's whining after losing to you. You'll even get some gold for it!
You can also ignore King Knight's pleas after the Boss Rush and leave them to hang.
If you strike or pogo off the Hoop Girl's hoop, it'll bounce around and she'll chase after it. If you hit it with a charge attack, the hoop will go flying out of the village altogether, and the Hoop Girl will stop and stare, despondent.
Villain Exit Stage Left: After his defeat, Black Knight will flee during Shovel Knight's victory sequence. Mole Knight also pulls this off with the assistance of moles, and Plague Knight does so via teleportation.
Weakened by the Light: Ghosts can be only harmed by a sphere of light, trying to hit them with anything else will only make them phase out for a brief moment. Said sphere is only found in the Hall of Champions.