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Video Game / Shovel Knight

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"Long ago, the lands were untamed, and roamed by legendary adventurers!"

Shovel Knight is a 2D platformer developed and published by Yacht Club Games. Featuring a Retraux 8-bit graphical style and inspired by the likes of Mega Man, DuckTales, 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 justice in spades once and for all!

    Publishing/Update History 
The game was released on June 26, 2014 for the Wii U, Nintendo 3DS, and all PC OSes on Steam (Windows, Mac, and Linux). However, thanks to the (very) successful kickstarter, several free expansions featuring members of the Order of No Quarter were made for the game. The first of these, Plague of Shadows, was released on September 17th, 2015, starring Plague Knight in a story parallel to Shovel Knight's as he turns traitor on the Order in order to harness their essence in pursuit of an ultimate potion. The second expansion, Specter of Torment, is a prequel that follows Specter Knight as he recruits the Order of No Quarter, released in Spring 2017 (March 3 for the Nintendo Switch and April for other platforms). King of Cards, the third and final expansion was released on December 10th, 2019 and is another prequel that features King Knight rise to power and first member of the Order Of No Quarter, and a four-player Battle Mode known as Shovel Knight Showdown was released on the same day for non-portable formats.

During the PlayStation Experience event, it was announced that Shovel Knight will be ported over to the PlayStation 3, 4, and Vita, with the addition of a new Super Boss for Shovel Knight only: Kratos from the God of War series. During GDC 2015, it was announced that Shovel Knight will also be ported to the Xbox One, and Zitz, Pimple, and Rash from Battletoads will be featured as bonus bosses for Shovel Knight's story only.

On January 11th, 2017, it was announced that the update featuring Specter of Torment would also rebrand the game's original format with all the expansions included as Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove, and that the game will be ported to the Nintendo Switch. In turn, all four of the game's campaigns and the Battle Mode will be available for standalone purchase for those who don't want to pay for the entire collection. Additionally, the update would include the long-promised Body Swap Mode that reverses everyone's gender, and co-op multiplayer for every version of the original game (now named Shovel of Hope) but the 3DS and Vita. A followup post on February 22 revealed that the Switch would be the first to get the Treasure Trove version and the Specter of Torment standalone campaign as system launch titles, with other platforms getting the update over a month later.

Finally, in August 2018, Yacht Club Games revealed the Battle Mode, Shovel Knight Showdown; and announced that it and King of Cards would release alongside the long-awaited Plague, Specter, and King Knight amiibo figures and physical releases for PS4 and Switch. These were originally slated for April 9, 2019, but were delayed a few extra months.

On August 28, 2019, Yacht Club Games held their first and currently only Yacht Club Games Presents, basically their take on the Nintendo Direct formula. There, they revealed some new updates coming to the game, shed some light on amiibo functionality, and even announced Shovel Knight Dig, a new game in the Shovel Knight series developed by Nitrome. They also showcased new trailers for King of Cards and Shovel Knight Showdown, along with confirming that they and the amiibo would all be released in December 2019.

On December 13, 2021, Yacht Club Games released Shovel Knight Pocket Dungeon, a combination roguelike-Falling Blocks game.

On September 23, 2022, Yacht Club Games released Shovel Knight Dig, a roguelike that's set as a prequel to the events of Treasure Trove.

Shovel Knight also received his own amiibo figure, unlocking Challenge stages and customizable knights in the Wii U and 3DS versions, as well as co-op multiplayer on Wii U (until it became standard with the Treasure Trove update). This marks the first instance of an indie character receiving an amiibo. Plague, Specter, and King Knights later received their own figures as well.

Panda Cult Games held a Kickstarter campaign in 2019 for a miniatures Board Game, Shovel Knight Dungeon Duels.

Shovel Knight's rise to fame has led him to be a Guest Fighter and make cameo appearances in several other games, making him something of a mascot for retro-style indie gaming:

    Guest Appearances 

Shovel Knight also makes a cameo in the web animation Tales of Alethrion.

Shovel Knight contains examples of:

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    General Examples 
  • Ability Required to Proceed: The three Relic Courses in Shovel of Hope and Arcana Courses Plague of Shadows each require a relic from one of the nearby stages. Uniquely, it's possible to complete these stages using different abilities than the obviously intended ones, although it's significantly more work for mere bragging rights.
    • Shovel Knight has the Forest of Phasing, which requires use of the Phase Locket to get over precarious areas like spikes, the Knuckler's Quarry, which calls for the Dust Knuckles to punch your way through dirt blocks suspended above pits, and Frigid Flight, which mandates the Propeller Dagger to fly across gaps that would otherwise be impassable.
    • Plague Knight has the Forest of Fishing, which asks for Bait Bombs to hit switches and other things at a distance, as well as blowing Cipher Coins out of pits. Second is the Bottomless Quarry, which necessitates the Vat so that Plague Knight can refresh his jumps and cross huge gaps with temporary platforms. The final stage is Shivering Sprint, which wants use of the Fleet Flask to outrun the crushing ceilings and moving spikes.
    • Then, both Specter of Torment and King of Cards feature this for every item you get. Each time you get a relic, you must also pass a short level that disables your main attack and movement mechanic and is tailor-made to be cleared with your newly acquired item. This is meant as a pseudo tutorial that teaches the uses and limits of each item.
  • Adam Smith Hates Your Guts:
    • Shovel of Hope:
      • The villagers may cheer you on to defeat the Enchantress, but they'll still charge you a few thousand extra gold for each additional health and magic upgrade.
      • Chester not only charges you for the Relics when you find them, he'll charge you extra if you buy them from him in the village instead.
    • Plague of Shadows:
      • The Troupple King still grants you ichors as Plague Knight, but he requires a greater sanctification fee. Since Plague Knight uses them for armor upgrades rather than consumable potions like Shovel Knight does, it makes a certain amount of sense from a gameplay perspective.
      • Chester charges out the nose for Arcanas because he is wary of taking possibly fake gold from an alchemist like Plague Knight, though he won't charge a dime if they're exchanged for Relics since he knows for sure they're legitimate.
  • Advancing Boss of Doom: The angler fish in the Iron Whale stage chases the player at first, before eventually being fought as a regular miniboss with an arena.
  • Ain't Too Proud to Beg: Near the end, 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.
  • All There in the Script: The name of the Final Boss of each campaign generally never come up within the story, but their names are easily found within the Challenge Modes.
  • All the Worlds Are a Stage: The game has the Tower of Fate, where almost every gimmick and enemy from previous areas will be found during its climb. Makes sense, considering it's basically the headquarters of the Order of No Quarter, rulers of said previous areas.
  • Ambiguously Human:
    • All but two of the Knights (Shield Knight and Polar Knight) have their faces obscured by their helmets, so in a world where Funny Animals coexist with regular humans, all bets are off. Specifically, it's completely unclear whether Mole Knight is just some guy in a mole-like suit of armor or an actual mole, and an NPC that appears rarely on Armor Outpost known only as "????" is identical to Shovel Knight, except he has the head of a catfish. When talked to, he just says it's nice to take the helmet off sometimes. In fact, this NPC also is a fully playable alternate skin for Shovel Knight in Showdown, being the very last unlock after completing a match with all other feats obtained. This just makes things even more ambiguous.
    • Come Specter Of Torment, Specter Knight's face is partially shown, confirming he's a human called Donovan. Or at least he was, as he's undead now.
    • King of Cards introduces King Knight's human mother, so unless he's adopted, King Knight is likely a human himself.
  • Animesque: Some character portraits in the Japanese version.
  • Annoying Laugh:
    • Apparently Polar Knight has one. (It's like water torture.)
    • Black Knight laughs at you as all of his fights begin, and will even stop and laugh in the middle of combat.
    • Propeller Knight has a particularly annoying one as his fight begins (which, humorously enough, is the same sound Beetos make when launched).
    • Even Shovel Knight can get an annoying laugh similar to Black Knight's in Custom Knight mode.
  • Another Side, Another Story: Specter Knight, Plague Knight, and King Knight were selected by fan vote and are made playable outside of the game's multiplayer thanks to updates, complete with their own altered versions of the normal story and their own mechanics. Plague Knight's campaign, Plague of Shadows, launched in fall 2015, while Specter Knight's campaign, Specter of Torment, was released in spring 2017, and King Knight's campaign, King of Cards, was released in winter 2019.
  • 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. Exaggerated in the Hall of Champions; the entire level is an enormous Antepiece which teaches you how to deal properly with Invisishades before fighting a boss version of them.
  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • If you defeat Propeller Knight and fall into a Bottomless Pit, the game will still yield victory to you so you won't have to restart the battle again. The same applies to Polar Knight if you defeat him and end up stepping on the One-Hit Kill spikes.
    • 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. Likewise, in Plague of Shadows, he'll appear in the Armor Outpost to trade relics for arcana if you don't find his chests in the various stages.
    • 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.
    • Part of the Battletoads boss fight involves a section based upon the infamously difficult "Turbo Tunnel" segments from the Battletoads games. Unlike said game, however, there's no consequences for dying — Shovel Knight doesn't get robbed of some of his Gold when he dies during that level. (Crashing is still a One-Hit KO, however.)
    • During the Boss Rush, Polar Knight is always one of the first three rematches, to avoid the frustration of dying late into the fights on his instant-death spikes. Propeller Knight's summoned airship also won't blast holes in the floor of the arena.
    • A patch was released for (only) the PC version that made the game speedrunner-friendly by removing certain elements of RNG like where Specter Knight spawns and when bullets that split will do so.
    • The game will give you the win if you manage to pull off a Mutual Kill on a boss. If against a Wandering Traveler, it gives you a fraction of health to let you pick up the Gold they leave behind.
    • Plague Knight's campaign allows you to check your level completion before beating the game, which helps with the 420 Cipher Coins you can collect.
    • In Specter of Torment, to make landing aerial strikes easier, a fire-like line, accompanied by a noise, appears on whatever is a viable target, with the upward or downward diagonal direction you're going shown.
    • In Specter of Torment, you won't lose gold if you die during Tinker Knight's second phase. There are two likely reasons for this: first, the second phase now takes place on a horizontal autoscrolling arena, so there's no practical way to record the location of (or recover) your loot, and unlike in Shovel of Hope, Tinker Knight is much more dangerous in his first phase — he has the Mobile Gear instead of you. It also starts from the second phase if you die, so you don't have to fight his first phase again. All of this also applies to Nightmare Reize, another autoscrolling boss fight directly after the Enchantress.
    • In the Teethalon (the anglerfish miniboss) section of Treasure Knight's stage, it is possible for Plague Knight and Specter Knight to fall off a platform, and then become trapped in a cycle of Collision Damage with the angler while floundering in the air to recover. If that happens and you manage to stay alive for long enough, the Advancing Boss of Doom will slow down and even stop advancing altogether so you can get free, and then resume the fight once you're back on solid ground. Additionally, since this is one of the only minibosses that can't be bypassed and has a drawn-out fight, it's also the only one that won't respawn if you die and go back to a checkpoint before it.
    • One of the attacks present in every Mole Knight fight is him digging underground to spawn four dirt piles; if the one containing him isn't dug up quickly enough, each one will explode into flame shots. Three of the playable characters can easily destroy dirt piles with their basic attack, but King Knight can only do so by landing on one during a spinning jump. Since spinning into the right pile in time would be very difficult (and impossible if it was close to the center of the room), these are the only dirt piles that can be broken by King Knight's shoulder-bash.
  • Anti-Villain: The Black Knight only attacked Shovel Knight and Plague Knight to protect Shield Knight. He only fought Specter Knight after being attacked the first time, and to defend The Enchantress the second.
  • April Fools' Day:
    • Fans across the world were constantly asking for "Shovel Knight 64," a Nintendo 64-style 3D game to go along with the original being as faithful as possible to the NES format, to emulate how other characters like Mario and Link went from 2D mainstays to 3D innovators. So Yacht Club games happily obliged by creating "Shovel Knight 64"... a Commodore 64-style Shovel Knight for April 2018.
    • The year before that, Yacht Club decided to call out games they said had ripped off Shovel Knight. In reality they were the classic games that Shovel Knight had taken inspiration from.
  • Arc Words: "Fate". Throughout all the campaigns, the word is always present, one way or another.
  • Armor-Piercing Attack: Most of the playable characters' charged attacks (Shovel Knight's Charge Handle and/or Dynamo Mail, Specter Knight's Striker's Shawl, and King Knight's Battery Brigandine) can deal a single hit of damage to a blocking enemy.
  • Art Evolution:
    • Plague Knight and Specter Knight both have promo art that looks much more consistent with their playable appearances (Plague Knight looks shorter and his "beak" is smaller, whilst Specter Knight's armor now has gauntlets). Specter Knight also gets a completely new dialogue portrait for Specter of Torment, which replaces the original.
    • Percy and Mona, Non Player Characters without plot importance in the main campaign, get a number of new sprites and animations in Plague of Shadows, with Percy even getting a complete aesthetic overhaul to make him look much more detailed.
    • The promotional art for almost every character (save for The Enchantress, who uses the exact same stock art) gradually shifted to brighter colors with more shading and discernible details, along with more dynamic poses, as the game started to approach King of Cards.
  • Autosave: The game auto saves after each level completed.
  • Auto-Scrolling Level: A few of the stages have a section consisting of this. The Flying Machine section adds a wind that steadily pushes Shovel Knight back.
  • Balance, Power, Skill, Gimmick: The four knights who have a solo campaign are this:
    • Shovel Knight is the balance, as he is as good in close range fighting with his shovel as he is in long range with his items (though not as good as the others), and he can use his weapon to bounce on enemies and compensate his low jump ability.
    • King Knight is the power, as he rests on physical brutal force to crush his enemies and to move faster than others, but his items are more limited and his reflexes to spin after a shoulder bash can make him vulnerable if he's not clever enough.
    • Despite being a Strong and Skilled character who can walk through walls and use his scyther to pierce settings and enemies, Specter Knight's slow mobility compared than others and the fact that his mana bar becomes a progressively decreasing life bar on New Game Plus make him a skill character.
    • Finally, Plague Knight is the gimmick as he is the only who can double jump and as his gameplay revolves more around special items than others, but he's also a Long-Range Fighter who can't do anything without the aforementioned items and his ridiculously diverse bomb arsenal.
  • Bamboo Technology: Certain parts of Tinker Knight's Humongous Mecha are noticeably made of wood.
  • Battle in the Rain: The final battle against Black Knight is one of these in Shovel of Hope and Plague of Shadows. However, in Specter of Torment, it takes place indoors in the room right after the place the other playable characters fight Black Knight.
  • Black Knight: Doing his best Monty Python impression as well.
  • Blackout Basement: A few areas are shrouded in darkness, with periodic lightning strikes to provide illumination.
  • Blob Monster: Blorb, one of the most common enemies, is the most common example, being a simple green blob with a face. Lavalorb is another example, being an orange flaming blob with an eye.
  • Boss Arena Urgency: Downplayed, as both bosses will "fix" it given time, but it will kill a careless player.
    • Polar Knight, who digs up one hit kill spikes, but he will make snow fall from the top of the 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.
    • Played entirely straight with King Knight's final boss, who periodically claws away at the floor, and his last attack removes it entirely, before entering its second phase.
  • Boss Corridor: Each of the main stages has a breather room containing a checkpoint and hidden food before the boss.
  • Boss Remix:
    • 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.
    • In Plague of Shadows, Shovel Knight, taking Plague Knight's place as boss of the Explodatorium, has a remix of that character's theme with the tempo and instrumentation of Plague Knight's boss theme. Also, the final boss of Plague Knight's story has a remix of his normal boss theme.
    • In Specter of Torment, Shield Knight's boss music, appropriately, is a remixed version of "Requiem of Shield Knight".
  • Boss Rush: In the second part of the Tower of Fate in Shovel of Hope and Plague of Shadows, your character 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...
  • 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.
  • The Cameo: Shovel Knight has made numerous cameos in a wide variety of indie games, including the Wii U exclusive Armillo (which released around the same time as Shovel Knight), Azure Striker Gunvolt 2 (via Amiibo), Road Redemption, Indivisible, and Yooka-Laylee.
  • Canis Latinicus: The Explodatorium.
  • Cap: You can carry a grand total of 99,999 gold, though between all four games, there's only a single thing that will ever cost that much.
  • Chandelier Swing: In King Knight's level, although they will fall.
  • Charged Attack:
    • Shovel Knight has the Charge Handle upgrade for the shovel: charged swings do double damage and have twice as much reach, but they halve your horizontal movement speed when you're charging one. The Dynamo Mail enables this attack to be used if two Shovel Drops successfully connect in a row, though the charge can only be stored temporarily. The Custom Knight specifically also has access to Plague Knight's Bomb Burst, though only the default Basic Burst.
    • Plague Knight's default moveset includes the Bomb Burst, which has a bomb explode on his position, launching him into the air. The attack varies with the burst; Basic explodes around Plague, Bullet shoots a projectile in front of him, Frost has him drop ice shards from the air, and Spin has him do a Screw Attack. The Float Burst, however, deals no damage. If Plague is wearing the Treasure Trappings, he can also magnetize money to himself when he holds a full charge.
    • If Specter Knight wears the Striker's Shawl, he gains access to a "superior scythe swing" which deals 2 damage instead of 1 and pierces defense. Unlike Shovel Knight, Specter does not lose movement speed when holding a charge.
    • King Knight has the Battery Brigadine armor. This white and purple armor allows King Knight to perform a charged shoulder bash that pierces armor, moves faster, and reaches further than his default bash, and it can also be performed straight up and down, allowing it to be used as an attack on enemies under King or as a form of Double Jump. It can also be used when King's in the middle of a spin without having to bounce off an enemy or an object first, giving King Knight a way to recover from a mistimed shoulder bash near a pit.
  • Cheat Code:
    • Done by way of putting in a specific code when naming a profile. The most famous is "Butt Mode", which replaces key words in the script with the word "butt." In April 2020, Yacht Club Games released the official cheat database, with around 400 codes in total.
    • The Japanese version is no slouch in the cheater department, as their equivalent to Butt Mode replaces Shovel Knight's name to either Shovel Samurai or Squid Knight depending on the code, carrots with radishes, and gold pieces with koban-style coins — on top of the latter two changes being kept along with the rest of the Japanese regional changes if you play in other languages.
  • Checkpoint Starvation:
    • invoked Can be done by the player at their own risk, in a Self-Imposed Challenge, by literally destroying the checkpoints. It also gives extra gold. Naturally harder stages, especially the last ones, will net more gold, as do checkpoints placed before lengthy or particularly difficult segments.
    • Enforced in New Game Plus, which removes most waypoints, leaving one at the level's midway point and one prior to the boss.
  • Chest Monster:
    • An angler fish miniboss using Chester's chest as bait appears within Treasure Knight's stage. The chest is indeed real. You just have to defeat the miniboss first in order to free Chester so that you can buy the Throwing Anchor from him. In King of Cards, this fish instead carries a fake goal ring, which leads into the King's battle.
    • Specter Knight's campaign features dog-like mimics called Memmecs hidden in some areas. They have a slightly different-looking lock than regular chests, though, so an observant player can notice them. There's also one in the Tower of Fate.
  • Clock Tower: Tinker Knight's stage.
  • Collapsing Lair: The Tower of Fate starts collapsing once the Enchantress' true form has been defeated. Plague Knight's story shows that this happened because he and Mona blew it up, and not because the Tower suffered from No Ontological Inertia.
  • Collision Damage:
    • One of the many woes to Shovel Knight.
    • Plague Knight can inflict this on enemies using the Berserker's Brew. He still takes damage, though.
  • Continuing is Painful: Dying while carrying a lot of gold can result in this — especially if you chose to break all the checkpoints and the gold ends up in an unfortunate spot. Might as well pause, pick "Return to Map", and retry the entire stage without getting a point in the death score.
  • Compilation Rerelease: The original version of the game, now dubbed Treasure Trove, retroactively becomes this since all of its 4 separate campaigns, plus Battle Mode, got released as standalone titles. It's also something of an inversion due to this.
  • Constructed World: The world of Shovel Knight is largely built from scratch, due to its human and anthropomorphic animal populace, the medieval era it takes place in being primarily aesthetic (due to the presence of flying machines, submarines, and even robots), and King of Cards features a globe, which, if spun and examined, shows that the landmasses of the planet don't match Earth at all, confirming that it's a completely different world from ours.
  • 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 is set on a fleet of these, equipped with cannons.
    • There's also the Aerial Anvil, an airship containing a store that floats above the Armor Outpost.
    • King of Cards introduces the Glidewing, which slowly gains several people who hang out onboard, gains a shop, and can be repainted to be silver or gold.
  • Cool, but Inefficient:
    • Shovel Knight's Ornate Plate. 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.
    • Same thing goes for the Dandy Duds in Plague Knight's campaign. When wearing them, he strikes poses when jumping, his burst jump explodes in a mess of sparkles and gold, he gets a different walk, and his victory celebration is different. But, just like the Ornate Plate, they're identical to the starting robes.
    • Specter Knight gets the Ghostly Garb instead of a gold outfit, but the effect is the same, just replace being shiny with being scary/cool: he skates along the ground instead of running, he has Speed Echoes when moving, his Dashing Slash makes him disappear briefly, and his stage entrance pose is changed from his back facing the camera to a casual lounge.
    • King Knight's Resplendent Cape is his showy outfit, which makes his cape fancier than usual and changes some of its animations.
  • 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.
    • The game's single most amazing headgear may be Shield Knight's. She leaves it behind with Shovel Knight, only for it to instantly find its way back to her. Her equipment delivers serious protection.
  • 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.
  • Creepy Old-Fashioned Diving Suit: Treasure Knight, a member of the Order of No Quarter, has a suit of armor inspired by an old-fashioned diving suit. An undersea pirate, he lays waste to the underwater in search of treasure, disturbing the fauna and fishing community in the area. While already a towering and imposing figure, his desire to control the seas has him also with the dangerous Teethalon under his captured command.
  • Damn You, Muscle Memory!: In the 3DS and Wii U versions, B confirms and A cancels, which goes against the Nintendo tradition of confirming with A and canceling with B. It does, however, conform to the NES tradition of confirming with the "jump" button and cancelling with the "attack" button. It's also possible to change this in the settings.
  • Dark Reprise:
    • The map theme changes to a lower octave near the end of the game.
    • "The Forlorn Sanctum", the music for the final stage of the main game, shares most of the key notes as "Requiem of Shield Knight".
    • In Plague of Shadows, Plague Knight's theme and the various remixes are slightly more upbeat, but still sinister in this game mode. The Corrupted Essence's theme, however, is much more dark and foreboding.
    • In Specter of Torment, the fights against Reize use a darker version of "Fighting With All of our Might".
  • Death Throws: All Knights dramatically fly into the air and fall down after defeated. A very rare example where this is exploited: during the boss rush, every time Shovel Knight downs a member of the Order of No Quarter, they are simply flung out of the stage, but once all of them are defeated, they are left holding each other from a Bottomless Pit in a Chain of People.
  • Death from Above:
    • 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. As a playable character, you can throw out the same tactic.
    • Propeller Knight will call for a backup airship that will keep firing cannonballs and bombs 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 reveal one hit kill spikes.
    • Treasure Knight will leap into the air and fire his harpoon arm down at you.
    • King Knight will blow a horn and confetti will rain down on the sides of the screen. However, it does little damage and is easily avoided.
  • 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 the checkpoints, then you'll get thrown back to the beginning of the stage.
  • Dem Bones: Boneclangs.
  • Depth Perplexion: Used intentionally with Blackout Basement during the first level of Tower Of Fate: the blocks that you can't jump on initially look identical to the ones you can jump on due to the darkness, but you can still tell them apart due to the rain that only hits solid blocks.
  • Developer's Foresight:
    • 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, especially if it's Plague Knight's.
      • Similarly, jumping off the Tower of Fate hub area as Specter Knight will return you to the balcony and have the Dark Acolyte tell you to be careful. When the Acolyte is replaced with Reize, he will appear instead and chastise you for "trying to leave work early".
    • Talking to King Knight after the Boss Rush while wearing the Ornate Plate 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.
    • In Plague of Shadows, after the Troupple King teaches Plague Knight how to dance, he can dance anywhere... Except close to Mona. If you attempt to do so, Plague Knight will just stand there, too embarrassed to do it, complete with Shy Finger-Twiddling. He will also do this during the final boss fight if you were to try and get him to dance while at least one Mona clone is visible. Notably, at the very end of the game, he finally does dance with Mona.
    • In Plague of Shadows, the effects of Plague Knight's bombs all carry over into cutscenes. The cutscene after the boss fight with Shovel Knight is also slightly different depending on who you fought last on that portion of the map: if Shovel Knight is defeated before Treasure Knight or Mole Knight, the campfire cutscene plays as it usually does. Defeat Shovel Knight last, however, and the campfire cutscene will feature a meal ticket chest and the music playing in the background is Requiem of Shield Knight instead.
    • Mona can create the Pandemonium Chalice, the reward for collecting all the Cipher Coins, and has dialogue for doing so. However, this is only possible on a New Game Plus, since she leaves after completing one stage in the third section of the Valley, thus requiring one to collect the Cipher Coins in the levels Mona will not be around for beforehand.
    • Specter of Torment:
      • The flashback sequences play slightly differently than the main game. Because Donovan isn't undead yet, he doesn't use darkness to use his relics. Instead, he uses a magic meter just like Shovel Knight, complete with magic drops from enemies. If Donovan dies, his money bags resemble Shovel Knight's (with angel wings instead of demon wings) and the name on the death screen says "Donovan" instead of the file's name.
      • In the flashback sequences, if you skip the Caltrops artifact, Luan will give them to Donovan in the second flashback. This is because getting all the red skulls causes Red to give the player the Donovan Set and Caltrops.
      • After defeating the Final Boss, pausing and looking at the Keepsake Locket on this menu during the post-boss cutscene will show that the recruited Knights counter actually changes to 8 out of 8 right after Specter is officially made a member of the Order, and its icon's color changes from red to blue the very moment Reize's Nightmare form is purged. In the Wii U and 3DS versions, these changes happen in real time since the menu appears on the Gamepad and touch screen, respectively.
    • The Fairy of Torment (one of the summonable amiibo fairies) will slice angrily towards most bosses, except for Reize, who he just looks at; he has a similar reaction to the Troupple Acolyte. He will also react angrily at the sight of the Phase Locket, either when Shovel Knight uses it or when Plague Knight steals it from Specter Knight's lair.
  • Difficult, but Awesome:
    • Shovel of Hope:
      • The 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 Plus, every other between-boss heal is replaced by a bomb. Make it explode against a boss, and it will eat four life points from them.
      • The Armor of Chaos, which can be forged after defeating Kratos in the PlayStation versions, increases the power and reach of the shovel and lets you charge up a ranged fireball attack by defeating enemies. It also removes the ability to change directions in mid-air when using the pogo attack until you've hit something, and causes you to hang in mid-air while attacking (just as Kratos does in his own series). The end result is that you have to learn a completely different set of mid-air controls when using it.
    • Plague of Shadows:
      • Plague Knight's Bomb Burst can be incredibly difficult to handle (unless you use Float Burst), but mastering it allows the player to almost literally fly through the map at incredible speeds and even skip some segments, which would be impossible to do as Shovel Knight.
      • The Goo Garment, one of the cloaks you can grab in Plague of Shadows, allows you to bounce off walls and do a rolling attack in the air that's otherwise only usable when using the Spin Burst. The issue is, as the description explains, that it's fairly hard to control, and using it incorrectly can land you in a variety of death traps. Knowing when to use it and cancel out of it not only gives you great aggressive power and mobility, but can also allow you to escape the same variety of death traps as a makeshift Wall Jump.
  • Dishing Out Dirt: Many characters do this, but not as an elemental power, they weaponized it at different degrees. While the main characters dig up treasures with their respective weapons, Black Knight actually digs up projectiles and makes meteors fall in his final battle. The most prominent example, however, is Mole Knight who has giant claws on his armor (or under it?) to dig in an archeological site and to defend himself against intruders.
  • The Dragon: Specter of Torment makes Specter Knight out to be this, as he is the first knight the Enchantress binds to her cause, and is tasked with finding more.
  • Easter Egg:
    • As of the King of Cards update, the title screen now just says "Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove" instead of changing based on the last story you played. You can change the title screen back to the previous ones by pressing your right shoulder button three times, holding it down on the third press. Selections include the default Treasure Trove title screen, the Shovel of Hope, Plague of Shadows, Specter of Torment, and King of Cards title screens, the very first title screen that simply says "Shovel Knight", and the Treasure Trove title screen that includes the four playable characters' portraits, if you've unlocked it.
    • Specter of Torment:
      • If you press the Down Button, the same command that allows Specter Knight to do the "Cold Shoulder" near the Memmec residing in the tower, Specter Knight looks around to make sure nobody's watching, and pets it.
      • Do the Cold Shoulder while the Skeletal Sentry is out, and hearts appear above their head.
      • Do the Cold Shoulder twice when wearing the Donovan Set and he'll dance!
      • The Tundread in Specter Knight's hub is fascinated with sliding along the ground and mentions the Rail Mail by name. Using the Rail Mail to grind while he's nearby causes him to stop in his tracks, turn to face you, and watch in slack-jawed amazement.
      • Going right at the beginning of the "Dirt Clod Dash" challenge lets the player find Treasure Knight doing some accounting.
    • King of Cards:
      • If you never meet Mr. Hat and thus he never brings his shop with him onboard the Glidewing, he'll be shown dragging it behind him with a rope to its current location in the Armor Outpost instead of it falling down from the sky when the Glidewing is destroyed in the ending.
      • If you use a fully charged shoulder bash with the Battery Brigadine on the Ledge Farmer, it sends him soaring off of the ship entirely sans wings. The player is rewarded 400 gems for doing this to him the first time.
      • King Knight's throne taunt, which you can use by holding down the up button after commissioning a painting from Gouache, counts the throne as a separate object; weight-sensitive platforms, such as ones seen in the Lich Yard, can sink as long as the taunt is active, and when the throne is still briefly on the screen.
  • Epic Fail:
    • It's not uncommon for players to doom themselves because they got a little distracted and dug right into a Bottomless Pit, lava, or spikes.
    • In Plague of Shadows, Percy attempts to send Plague Knight via catapult into an unguarded trove full of treasures and armaments. Upon fixing the contraption, Plague Knight is launched right into Armor Outpost, which is full of guards who are eager to arrest him. Keep in mind that said catapult was right outside said outpost.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Every major character is known as "(Something) Knight". Except Mona, but she's only a major character in Plague Knight's campaign...
  • Everything's Better with Sparkles: The Ornate Plate's constant sparkles don't make it any less useless, but they make it easier to keep track of Shovel Knight's position in dark areas.
  • Evil Counterpart:
    • Polar Knight. He's the only one of the Order who uses a (snow) shovel, and is 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 Enchantress is actually Shield Knight being possessed.
  • Evil Laugh: The Black Knight and Propeller Knight give one before they battle.
  • Evil Knockoff: The Slime Shovel Knights (officially known as Slimulacra) found in the Explodatorium.
  • Evil Tower of Ominousness: The Tower of Fate. It has greenish clouds within the background and greenish rain during some of the segments. To add to the vibes, the map music gets replaced with a Dark Reprise once you've reached the stages that take place within the tower.
  • Evolving Title Screen: Initially, the title screen of Treasure Trove would change the displayed subtitle to match whichever campaign was played last. The update adding King of Cards, however, removed this functionality- instead the main title screen says Treasure Trove and the subtitle appears when selecting a file. Beating all four campaigns will add the protagonists' portraits to the title screen, and beating either all of a character's challenges or earning all of their Feats will add a small icon of them to the top left corner. Completing the other task will add a ribbon above their icon. In Showdown, unlocking all content (characters, alternate palettes/costumes, and stages) will change its logo into a blue variant, as well as adding a ribbon to both its own title screen and the main one.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: The main character is a knight. Instead of a sword, his weapon of choice is a shovel.
  • Expy:
    • The Order of No Quarter are basically Robot Masters. They're a group of eight highly memorable, specifically gimmicky bosses who wait at the end of their own themed levels, have great visual designs and a lot of personality for stage bosses, and are fought a second time in a Boss Rush toward the end of the game. They even have a very similar naming scheme. They don't give out special weapons or abilities, though. Those come through other means.
    • Shovel Knight and Shield Knight are expies of Mega Man and Proto Man (although the latter only in terms of appearance).
    • Black Knight is also an expy of Proto Man in that he's not only fiercely independent, he also serves as a somewhat similar foil to Shovel Knight. He's also an expy to Bass in that he's a black-armored rival to Shovel Knight, using the same form of attack as him and not being aligned to the main antagonist.
  • Fake Difficulty:
    • Polar Knight can dig up spikes in his arena. It's almost impossible to avoid them and his attacks without abusing of the Phase Locket or using an Ichor of Boldness.
    • The Enchantress' first phase. You fight her on an 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 of avoiding her attacks, but get hit a little too close to a gap and you'll have to restart the entire thing.
  • Falling Chandelier of Doom: In Pridemoor Keep and the Tower of Fate.
  • Fireballs:
    • The domain of the wizard enemies and the fire wand sub-weapon.
    • Reize will also summon a bunch of them to shield him when he Turns Red.
    • Specter Knight can do the same with the Barrier Lantern, though they take some time to fully charge.
    • In the PlayStation versions, the Armor of Chaos (your reward for defeating Kratos) lets you fire them for every few enemies you defeat.
  • Flip-Screen Scrolling: Though usually done out of necessity, it is included for the retro aesthetic.
  • 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.
    • A subtle one is given from the opening sequence and onwards: Shield Knight and the Enchantress have the same beauty mark.
    • Similar to the above example, the cover art for the game depicts the Enchantress at the top-middle of the piece, just under the logo. The version that appears on the Official Soundtrack is identical, except the Enchantress is replaced by Shield Knight.
    • In Plague Knight's story, if the music sheet Plague Knight gives to Percy doesn't unlock a new piece of music to listen to, he may give Plague Knight some "romantic advice". In addition, Reize fights Plague Knight as a dare because he wants him to brew a love potion to win a girl. Lastly, the dance the Troupple King does for Plague Knight is different and involves some of his Troupple Fish forming into heart-shaped formations at certain points within the song or kissing. All these foreshadow Plague Knight's true motivations for brewing the ultimate potion.
      • Right before the first fight with Black Knight, the latter accuses Plague Knight of brewing the potion to win the Magicist's heart. Turns out, he was half-correct: the base reason is true, but he got the wrong individual. It's also hinted about by Plague Knight's reaction, which has him confused about where the idea he's trying to woo the Magicist came from, yet doesn't say anything to deny having feelings for anyone either.
      • If you complete the Flying Machine after Mona is replaced by Percy, he says that the Flying Machine is very romantic and would be good for "wooing a fair mare". In the epilogue of the game, Plaguey takes Mona for a date there.
  • Four-Fingered Hands: The characters all have these as part of their design.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: The eight knights of "The Order of no Quarter", based on their in-game personalities and official bios;
    • Sanguine: King Knight and Propeller Knight
    • Choleric: Plague Knight and Mole Knight
    • Melancholic: Treasure Knight and Tinker Knight
    • Phlegmatic: Specter Knight and Polar Knight
      • The Wandering Travelers; Baz (choleric), Reize Seatlan (phlegmatic), Mr. Hat (sanguine), and Phantom Striker (melancholic).
      • Plague Knight's (named) assistants in Plague of Shadows; Mona (melancholic), Baz (choleric (though it's up to you whether he plays the "assistant" part or not)), Magicist (phlegmatic), Percy (sanguine), and Oolong (eclectic).
  • Full Health Bonus: The Drop Spark upgrade, once bought, allows Shovel Knight to flick a long-ranged spark across the ground while at full health. Beating a boss with the spark, which would require you to take down most of its health without getting hit, nets you an achievement.
  • 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. In Plague of Shadows, Shovel Knight himself will barge in, and after a clunky landing, he'll pass out for a moment, but will regain consciousness and look around... Before taking another nap.
    • In Plague of Shadows, if you wait long enough in Village and Armor Outpost before conquering it, you'll be able to see Shovel Knight walking around.
  • Furry Reminder: There are a number of anthropomorphic animals in the game, who act like any other NPC, although sometimes they demonstrate animal-like behavior. For example, the Airship Enthusiast in Armor Outpost will occasionally crow as Roosters do if left to idle, and Percy, a horse, kicks on his hind legs to operate a switch, and randomly runs on all fours when changing positions in Plague Knight's lab.
  • Game-Breaking Bug: A bug in the 3DS version, introduced with the Treasure Trove update, caused the game to crash whenever the amiibo-exclusive Bomb Burst ability was used by Shovel Knight. This also meant that one of the challenges, which requires the use of said ability, couldn't be completed. The bug was later patched.
  • Gelatinous Trampoline: Mole Knight's stage features slime cubes and slimeballs that make the player bounce up high. Lava can also be temporarily converted into slime with slimeballs.
  • Gender Flip: An option for Shovel Knight's campaign, as of the Treasure Trove/Specter of Torment update, now allows the player to switch the genders of every major character. The Enchantress becomes the Enchanter, the Order of No Quarter becomes all female or you can pick a select few characters to be switched. The game's dialogue is even changed slightly to reflect it. They can mix and match gender appearances and even which gender characters are referred to in the text.
  • Glass Cannon: Mentioned by name, this is what Propeller Knight would have been if he was playable.
  • Graceful Landing, Clumsy Landing:
    • Normally, when Shovel Knight gets launched from a catapult, he will comically crash into the ground upon reaching his destination. If you have the Ornate Plate equipped, he will instead land smoothly on his feet and strike a pose, just like he does when entering a level.
    • In King of Cards, the animation for King Knight entering a level is chosen at random. In some cases he is lowered into the level with a Rat Rope, in some cases he lands on his feet and dramatically flourishes his cape, and in some cases he falls on his face before standing up and adjusting his crown.
  • Green Hill Zone: The first area in all games is plains, a grassy land.
  • Grim Reaper: Specter Knight is a version of it.
  • Guest Fighter: Kratos is a boss in the PlayStation ports of the game while the Battletoads are in the Xbox One and Steam versions.
  • Guide Dang It!:
    • 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 a few music sheets that are almost impossible to find unless you think of exploring every corner of every stage. Even those that are likely to kill you in the process.
    • You can ease the difficulty of New Game Plus by a whole lot. The New Game Plus 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, some of the Order of No Quarter go on to use their abilities for good. Special mention goes to Tinker Knight, who turned his stage into a workshop and now spends his days making toys for children.
    • Plague Knight's campaign shows he was never truly an antagonist. All he was doing was in order to make the ultimate potion... which, at the end of the game, is what destroys the Tower Of Fate!
  • He Knows About Timed Hits: Village guard instructs to press up to talk to everyone, in contrast to Instructive Level Design that came beforehand.
  • Hero Antagonist:
    • The city guards are this within Plague Knight's story. The only reason why they still attack him (or prevent him from entering the village) is because they still believe he's part of the Order of No Quarter.
    • Shovel Knight himself is also this, attacking Plague Knight for the same reason he's attacking the other Order of No Quarter members. In fact, Plague Knight only got Shovel Knight's essence because Shovel Knight happened to be raiding his Explodatorium to defeat him.
  • Hero of Another Story: Several of the Optional Bosses either state they've defeated many foes before they battled Shovel Knight (i.e., the Phantom Striker and Mr. Hat) or that they, themselves, are currently on a quest (i.e., Reize Seatlan and Kratos). In addition, Shovel Knight himself becomes this within Plague Knight's story due to him still going on his quest.
  • Humongous Mecha: Used by Tinker Knight in his second phase.
  • Hyperactive Metabolism: Shovel Knight, Plague Knight, and King Knight recover their health via carrots, apples, chicken, and fish. Shovel Knight can extend his health bar with meals cooked by the Gastronomer, while King Knight extends his with hearty meat pies baked by his mom.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Shovel Knight: X of Y, where X is always replaced by the player character's first name (Shovel, Plague, Specter, King).
  • Impractically Fancy Outfit: The most expensive armor in each game makes the playable knights look shiny and fancy (except Specter Knight, who becomes spookier) and changes a few animation details, but they don't have any practical benefits.
  • Improbably Female Cast: Can be invoked at the player's liking thanks to body swap mode, where it's possible to turn the entire main cast into female characters.
  • Inconveniently-Placed Conveyor Belt: Plenty of them in Tinker Knight's stage.
  • Interface Screw: Specter Knight's stage can flash on and off at some points, and Joke Bombs will cause the background to explode in rainbows.
  • Invincible Minor Minion: The Invisishades in Specter Knight's stage. Hitting them only makes them turn into a mist that cannot harm you nor be harmed, and shortly thereafter they reform and continue chasing you. You get to have your revenge against them in the Hall of Champions, which contains orbs that can kill them (and their King Mook) for good.
  • Ironic Echo: The ending of King of Cards retroactively makes King Knight's line after the Boss Rush of Shovel of Hope and Plague of Shadows into this. While Shovel Knight is asked by the Order of No Quarter, and lifting them back up onto safe ground is your choice, King Knight is asked this by his allies, who he spent the entire game recruiting and working with, and his deciding not to help them is out of your control.
    King Knight/King Pridemoor: You wouldn't just leave us to hang here, would you!?
  • Joke Item: All of the playable characters get a set of joke gear that's expensive; Shovel Knight and Plague Knight get golden armor that doesn't add anything to their established set of abilities aside from give them fancier animations and sparkle, while Specter Knight gets a cloak that... makes him look scarier. King Knight gets a fancier cape.
  • Kung Fu-Proof Mook:
    • The Goldarmor type of enemy. They will block a frontal assault or even a jumping one. The only ways to hurt them are charged attacks, the Throwing Anchor, the Dust Knuckles, and carefully timing and positioning your attacks to hit them where their shield currently isn't.
    • The dragons in Polar Knight's stage cannot be killed by the pogo shovel attack. This is less to make them more challenging and more so that they can serve as living platforms for Shovel Knight.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: Black Knight not being a member of the Order; Plague of Shadows and Specter of Torment make it clear that he refused to join, even after being defeated by Specter Knight.
  • 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 Sine Daggers, enemies with the exact same movement pattern of Medusa Heads, will more often than not make Shovel Knight plummet to his doom in a Bottomless Pit.
  • Lions and Tigers and Humans... Oh, My!: Characters include normal humans (like the various guards and villagers), ambiguous humans (like many of the Knights), and funny animals (like the Goatician and Cooper).
  • Luck-Based Mission:
    • The order of the Knights fought at the Boss Rush is random, aside from Polar Knight, who is guaranteed to be one of the first three. You can face the bosses you have the most trouble with in succession, or worse, after you've burned through most of your mana and health. This is especially aggravating in New Game Plus, 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. A later patch fixed this by making it so that if you've spent less than an hour playing the game in total, no map encounters beyond the first one will spawn until you beat it.
  • Mad Scientist: Plague Knight loves explosions, and as an alchemist, has extensive intimate knowledge of chemistry, alchemy, and magic. He cackles gleefully while thinking up new methods of destruction. Mona's in the same boat, but less prone to fits of laughter.
    Mona: You know what they say, the bigger the explosion...
    Plague Knight: Hee hee hee... the better the alchemist!
  • Made of Explodium: A good amount of things explode in the Explodatorium, including rats, bombs, and certain platforms. But given the name of the stage, you should have expected that coming in.
  • Meaningful Appearance: Madame Meeber, an Amiibo-related character, has six wings that are colored after the amiibo logo.
  • Mini-Boss: One or two in each of the main levels. Straight up done when Shovel Knight defeats Kratos; the Ghost of Sparta gives Shovel Knight a suit of armor that replicates several of the God of War's moves.
  • Mini-Dungeon: Several on the World Map.
  • Mirror Boss:
    • Black Knight, who you fight a number of times, fights a lot like Shovel Knight himself.
    • In Plague Of Shadows, Shovel Knight fights even more like the player would for obvious reasons, even using the relics he'd normally acquire within his journey. The penultimate boss against the Plague of Shadows also counts, being identical to Shovel Knight's boss fight against Plague Knight.
  • Mix-and-Match Critters: There are people with goat and horse heads in the towns.
  • Money Is Experience Points: Treasure can be used to buy upgrades in addition to a few other purposes.
  • Mook Chivalry: Actually Boss Chivalry. It's in full effect during the Boss Rush when the members of the Order of No Quarter politely attack Shovel Knight one at a time.
  • Musical Nod: Lost City's theme contains a brief snippet of "Dance Through the Danger" from Shantae: Half-Genie Hero. Both games' soundtracks are composed by Jake Kaufman.
  • New Game Plus: Allows upgrades to be carried over, but also increases overall difficulty of the game: most things do double damage, almost every health pickup is now a bomb instead, and there's only two checkpoints in each level, one usually somewhere near the middle and one before the boss.
  • Nintendo Hard:
    • The game isn't insanely difficult, but certain stages require a lot of precision with jumps.
    • New Game Plus 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.
    • Plague of Shadows also takes the difficulty a notch upwards, as Plague Knight's jumping controls are quite a bit harder to master than Shovel Knight's.
    • New Game Plus for Specter of Torment has an additional change alongside the ones in Shovel of Hope. Your Darkness and Will gauges have been merged and now drains slowly over time. Being slow or abusing curios will result in your demise.
  • No Fair Cheating:
    • The Phantom Striker can tell if you've healed yourself during battle and will point it out if you do so. He'll then give the lesser reward even if you're still at full health.
    • If you start a new file with a non-cosmetic cheat, you won't be able to earn feats with that file.
  • Non-Standard Character Design:
    • The Optional Boss Reize Seatlan looks a lot more Animesque than any other character because it's actually an appearance of a pre-existing character made by a DeviantArt user back in 2001.
    • Shield Knight and Polar Knight both have an exposed face. Polar Knight takes it further by having a Viking thematic, which means his body is much more visible than any of the other Knights.
    • The Battletoads use their standard cartoony design in the crossover in the Xbox version of the game, in contrast to the standard anthro frog NPCs in-game whose heads look like those of a realistic frog's.
    • The Hall of Champions is filled with pixelated portraits based off of the Real Life people who backed the game's Kickstarter. One of the portraits is of Egoraptor, who is depicted with his chibi head from Game Grumps instead of the somewhat realistic portraits all of the other backers got. Another of the portraits has the head of a dragon. Said dragon shows up in Specter of Torment, as an NPC that Specter Knight can frequently recolor the armor of until the helmet comes off to reveal him as a dragon.
  • 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.
  • Obvious Rule Patch: There's a somewhat difficult feat called "Untouched" that requires you to beat a member of the Order of No Quarter without taking any damage from them. Since the bosses tend to be pretty difficult and hard to read at times, many players would just fight the predictable and slow King Knight to get it. Plague Knight's version of the feat in the Plague of Shadows campaign specifically states that fighting King Knight doesn't count for it. He counts again in Specter of Torment, likely due to how the game dramatically changed his fighting style to be more unpredictable.
  • One-Hit Kill: As per tradition, spikes, holes, lava, and crushing walls/ceiling will instantly down your character. Period.
  • One-Winged Angel:
    • After being released from Shield Knight, The Enchantress turns into the Remnant of Fate, a ginormous sorceress capable of great power.
    • After the final boss of Plague Knight's campaign, the Plague of Shadows, gets defeated, it transforms into the Corrupted Essence, a ginormous Eldritch Abomination that resembles a twisted version of Plague Knight in terms of appearance.
    • Reize Seatlan does it as the Final Boss in Specter of Torment as well.
    • In King of Cards, the Enchantress transforms the three Joustus judges into the Grand Triumvirate. Its second form, however, is a Clipped-Wing Angel.
  • Path of Most Resistance: Though often hidden or obscured, paths with traps and enemies will almost always have something worth your trouble.
  • Permanently Missable Content:
    • If you don't talk to The Baz after defeating him in Plague of Shadows, you can't recruit him to be one of Plague Knight's minions.
  • Pet Monstrosity: The two griffin minibosses fought in Pridemoor Keep are revealed by the Deposed King to be "Plume" and "Beaky", his pets.
  • Platform Game: Much like Mega Man.
  • Power Copying: 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. Even the Optional Boss fights against the Battletoads and Kratosnote  will result in Shovel Knight gaining relics that allows Shovel Knight to mimic their attacks using his shovel.
  • Power Up Let Down: The Ornate Plate. The game puts it best:
    Tagline: Flashy! Acrobatic! Useless!
  • Power-Up Magnet:
    • In Plague of Shadows, the Treasure Trappings cloak makes money magnetize towards Plague Knight whenever he charges his Bomb Burst.
    • In King of Cards, the Wealth Whirl upgrade allows King Knight to draw in money whenever he enters a spin.
  • Production Foreshadowing: While the Battletoads fight in the PC and Xbox versions deliberately skews toward nostalgia (recreating the Wookie Hole and the infamous Turbo Tunnel), Kratos's fight doesn't take place in any familiar location from the first three God of War games, instead being in an abandoned temple, with a snowy mountain and forest in the background. Yacht Club Games and Santa Monica had collaborated to create this area, and it was confirmed to serve as a hint towards where Kratos would end up in God of War (PS4).
  • Promoted to Playable: Since the Kickstarter campaign met its stretch goals, Plague Knight, Specter Knight, and King Knight were selected to receive their own campaigns via updates. The rest of the Order of No Quarter (plus the Wandering Travelers, Mona, a Goldarmor, and a few others) were later made playable in Shovel Knight Showdown.
  • Proud Peacock:
    • The Ticketer and Cultured Fellows in the Hall of Champions are anthropomorphic peacocks. Some of them talk to Shovel Knight rather rudely by calling him a peasant, and the ticketer demands an enormous amount of money to allow him inside.
    • Another peacock in the Armor Outpost brags about his riches and then proceeds to ask for a large amount of money just so he can buy a hat, as he forgot his wallet.
  • Purely Aesthetic Era: The era the game takes place in appears medieval, but the Iron Whale is a submarine under the ownership of Treasure Knight (who himself is wearing a diving suit), and Propeller Knight commandeers a Flying Machine. There's also Tinker Knight's Humongous Mecha.
  • Purely Aesthetic Gender: The Body Swap mode enforces this by necessity, but this affects more than just the main character — Shield Knight, Black Knight, and all the boss characters can have their genders swapped with no actual difference in terms of gameplay or text aside from which genders the player chooses to have them be referred as. The devs made it up for it by making the female designs distinct but still true to the characters.
  • Quirky Boss Squad: The Order of No Quarter.
  • Rainbow Speak: The names of each of the major characters are displayed in colored text.
  • Recurring Boss: The Black Knight is an (admittedly more humorous) example.
  • Red and Black and Evil All Over: The Black Knight, with notable red accents to his black armor.
  • 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.
  • Retcon: Specter Knight's portrait was updated for the Specter of Torment campaign, and any instances of Specter Knight speaking in the other campaigns now use that portrait instead.
  • 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. This blog post by developer David D'Angelo details exactly how the game does and doesn't abide by the limitations of the NES.
  • 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: Invoked with the Body Swap mode, which allows all the Knights plus the Enchantress to swap genders.
  • Running Gag:
    • Reize constantly failing to assess which characters are actually on which side. In the prequel Specter Of Torment campaign, it causes problems for Specter Knight.
    • The player characters mistaking Grandma Swamp for a witch, or in Specter Knight's case, thinking she's a bewitched mirror.
    • In Specter of Torment, characters entering the Tower of Fate by breaking through windows or walls.
    • At the start of every major boss level in King of Cards, King Knight breaks down the doors to the start of the level until the Tower of Fate. So (in a fitting way) the Cool Airship bashes through a window instead.
  • 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", not to mention the Dynamo Decanter in the Potionarium, his other headquarters.
  • Scunthorpe Problem:
    • One cheat code filters the game's dialogue to make everyone talk like Jar-Jar Binks, but occasionally runs into this issue. Most notably, the character Madam Meeber is renamed to "Madam Meesaeber" with this code on.
    • The "Butt Mode" cheat code changes all three of the Battletoads' names into "Butt". Since one of the toads is named Rash, this also affects dialogue that includes words such as brash or thrash.
    King Pridemoor: Gracious! What fun! I've not seen a strategy that bbutt in ages!
  • 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.
  • Secret A.I. Moves: Only the boss fight against Plague Knight and the Plague of Shadows can summon multiple vats at once (as well as make them not disappear), teleport around the arena, and throw three potion bombs at once. Specter Knight's curios give him abilities that resemble his boss moves (swooping in to slash at an enemy, hovering in midair, throwing a boomerang sickle, summoning skeletons), but he can't teleport at will under player control.
  • Sequential Boss:
    • Tinker Knight. The first phase is more of a joke boss, with him running around (Shovel of Hope and Plague of Shadows) or riding the Mobile Gear (Specter of Torment and King of Cards) while throwing wrenches. In the second phase, he pulls out the Tinker Tank and either pilots it (Shovel of Hope and Plague of Shadows) or puts it on autopilot and fights alongside it (Specter of Torment and King of Cards).
    • Everyone's Final Boss is the Enchantress, followed by something else of her doing. What that something is depends on who you're playing as:
      • Shovel Knight battles the Remnant of Fate, what remained in the locket that possessed Shield Knight. She attacks with projectiles that move in waves and occasionally swoops down to attack and break the floor at the same time.
      • Plague Knight goes against the Plague of Shadows, a shadowy version of his own boss fight from Shovel of Hope formed from the Essences converging onto Mona, followed by the Corrupted Essence, another evil version of Plague Knight, taking the form of a massive cloaked bird atop a device of some kind. This form attacks with bombs, lasers, and other projectiles.
      • Specter Knight faces Nightmare Reize, a mutated and monstrous version of Dark Reize, who is chased down on grind rails. He can conjure fire onto the rails and dash across the screen, and occasionally the rails are removed in favor of chaining Dash Slashes on lanterns.
      • King Knight takes on the Grand Triumvirate, a fusion of King Pridemoor, the Troupple Acolyte, and the talking Birder, in the form of a massive machine. This foe attacks with Giant Hands of Doom, lasers, spiked balls, bubbles, and more. After its defeat, it loses most of these attacks and can only move its hands around and shoot fireballs, with the main threat being falling into the pit below the battle.
    • Shovel Knight's PlayStation-exclusive battle with Kratos is fought in 3 increasingly difficult stages.
    • Shovel Knight's Xbox One-exclusive battle with the Battletoads has you go through challenges reminiscent of the original games (including a remake of the speeder bike section).
    • In King of Cards, King Knight's second fight against Specter Knight begins like the first battle, with Specter fighting like he does as a playable character in his own campaign, but after losing most of his health, he enters his flying form, regenerates, and moves into the fighting style he uses as a boss in Shovel of Hope.
    • In Showdown, everyone's final stage has them fight their rival in a match with 3 stocks, followed by a two-part match against the Mirror of Fate. The first phase is a Gem battle, where the goal is to get 15 gems first, and the second is a more traditional boss battle, with the Mirror moving the floor, summoning weaker versions of playable characters, and throwing out projectile attacks.
  • Shock and Awe: Courtesy of Phantom Striker and the Baz.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Properly extinguishing your campfire after a level will net you the "Only You" Feat/Achievement, a reference to the American PSA character, Smokey the Bear, and his catchphrase, "Only You can prevent wildfires."
    • A specific Cheat Code in Specter of Torment gives Specter Knight Mega Man X Wall Jump abilities, complete with a blue palette that matches X's colors. An alternative code gives him the special wall jump, but lets him keep his normal, red palette as a reference to Zero. The codes themselves are references to Mega Man: Maverick Hunter X and Mega Man ZX respectively.note 
    • Specter Knight fights a lot like Death from Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow.
    • Treasure Knight's appearance and color-palette is very similar to Subject Delta from Bioshock 2
    • One of the first background songs you hear, "Strike the Earth", takes its name from Dwarf Fortress. Fittingly, both the song and the phrase come from the very start of their respective games.
    • One of the secret rooms in the Hall of Champions contains the Standard Galactic Alphabet decypher from Commander Keen.
    • A special cheat code for Plague of Shadows, PLC&CART, changes Plague Knight's walking animation to Alucard's strut, as well as giving him blue afterimages and an infinite Staff of Striking. Its name references the "Alucart" gear from the same game.
    • One of the cheat codes, PL&JRJR, gives everyone the speech patterns of Jar Jar Binks.
    • One late-game secret area in King of Cards is heavily inspired by stage 5-9 of Super Mario Bros. 3.
    • One of King Knight's special cheats gives him a spin dash, and variants of the cheat give him palettes resembling Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles. The cheat's official name is the Rev Roll, referencing the move of the same name from Pac-Man World.
    • A new Flying Machine enemy in King of Cards is, behavior-wise, a dead ringer for the Mettaurs, hiding under impenetrable dome helmets before pelting you with projectiles. Alternatively, seeing as they're only found on airships, they could be similar to Rocky Wrenches from Super Mario Bros. 3.
    • The design of the final boss of King Of Cards resembles Sigma's One-Winged Angel form from Mega Man X. It even starts out behaving the same way, though it quickly changes things up after receiving a few hits from King Knight.
    • One of Mr. Hat's win quotes in Showdown is "Your hat will make a fine addition to my collection!"
  • Skippable 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.
    • In a sort of roundabout way, King Knight's challenges allow you to play Joustus against five extra opponents that you're never able to play against in the King of Cards campaign: the three Joustus Judges, King Knight's mother, and the Enchantress.
  • Springs, Springs Everywhere: Pridemoor keep features classic springboards that launch the player when jumped on.
  • Superboss:
    • Kratos and the Battletoads are this as well. That said, beating them does net you some pretty good sets of armor.
    • Exclusive to King of Cards, there's Cardia, who's completely optional like most Joustus games, but has the abilities of all of the other Joustus bosses and can only be fought after defeating all four of them. If you beat her, you get a more traditional boss battle against her Giga Cardia form.
  • Take That!: In a list done on a particular day, which talks about their influences in the guise of calling out knockoffs, they say that the Big Daddy's resemblance to Treasure Knight is "as obvious and flimsy as the arguments in an Ayn Rand novel".
  • Version-Exclusive Content:
    • The PS4 version has a sidequest involving Kratos, which nets the player a unique armor set.
    • The Xbox One and PC versions include the Battletoads, which get the player a different unique armor set.
    • The Nintendo versions have content exclusive to amiibo, like alternate costumes, Fairy Companions based on the playable four, a Custom Knight mode for Shovel of Hope, and (prior to the shutdown of Miiverse) the Digger's Diary.
  • Voice Grunting: Almost every distinct character gets uniquely pitched beeps when dialogue occurs. Examples include Specter Knight having low, nearly ethereal beeps, while Polar Knight's are louder and deeper-pitched.
  • Wreaking Havok: There are cheat codes that alter the in-game physics so that they behave differently.
  • You Dirty Rat!: With propellers that carry them around. They serve as Mooks in Pridemoor Keep, The Flying Machine, and the Tower of Fate. There are also green, exploding rats in the Explodatorium and mechanical ones in the Clockwork Tower.
  • Your Size May Vary: While Plague Knight's as tall as King Knight when you face him as a boss, he becomes as tall as Shovel Knight when you play as him. The discrepancy is more obvious in the battle against the Plague of Shadows, who acts the same as Plague Knight does in his boss fight; despite being a clone of Plague Knight himself, the Plague of Shadows is clearly taller.

    Shovel of Hope Examples
Dig your way through the main storyline!
Long ago, the lands were untamed, and roamed by legendary adventurers!
Of all heroes, none shone brighter than Shovel Knight and Shield Knight.
But their travels together ended at the Tower of Fate; when a cursed amulet wrought a terrible magic.
When Shovel Knight awoke, the tower was sealed, and Shield Knight was gone.
His spirit broken, a grieving Shovel Knight went into a life of solitude.
But without champions, the land was seized by a vile power: the Enchantress and her Order of No Quarter!
Now, the tower is unsealed, and devastation looms. A new adventure is about to begin...

  • An Aesop: The game rewards you with treasure and an achievement for properly putting out Shovel Knight's campfires before leaving them.
  • Awesome, yet Impractical: Titan Mode, which turns Shovel Knight into a giant. Hitbox Dissonance is in full effect here, as otherwise you can't complete the game with Shovel Knight that big, but even then, it's still very difficult to do so. Downplayed with Giant Mode, where Shovel Knight, while still a giant, isn't as big as he would be in Titan Mode. That, and his hitbox matches his size.
  • Battle Couple: Shovel Knight and Shield Knight. The final battle emphasizes their teamwork, with the latter using her shield as a temporary platform for the former to bounce on and reach the boss' weak spot.
  • Beat the Curse Out of Him:
    • Black Knight when his true motives to fight Shovel Knight are revealed. The Enchantress uses a spell to empower and control him, forcing him to battle Shovel Knight one last time.
    • The Enchantress herself, who is possessing Shield Knight via a cursed amulet.
  • Big Bad: The Enchantress is the main antagonist, using her incredible magical powers and control over the Order of No Quarter to exert her influence across the land.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Black Knight arrives right on time to save Shovel Knight while Shield Knight holds The Enchantress' final attack back.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Subverted. Shovel Knight finally defeats the spirit within the amulet and brings peace to the valley once more at the cost of seemingly losing Shield Knight again. Come post credits and it turns out Shield Knight survived.
  • 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, which is likely to be the first relic that a player will get. It simply launches a rather slow-moving fireball which will travel straight until it hits an enemy or obstacle... which is one of the most useful tools to kill enemies positioned on ledges just ready to knock you into a pit. It is also highly useful to damage bosses from a safe distance in most cases.
  • Controllable Helplessness: A non-malicious example: you can move the control pad around, making Shovel Knight shake while he's asleep. He'll only wake up when you jump, though.
  • 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.
  • 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 Big Creep in Hall of Champions will occasionally use this trick to throw off the player.
  • Emergency Energy Tank: The Ichor of Renewal replenishes all your health and magic. You can only carry up to two at the time, assuming you're not using the two chalices for the other two types of Ichor.
  • Extreme Omni-Goat: The Goatician, who is occasionally seen eating a piece of paper. He also discusses this trope.
    Goatician: Ah, decisions, decisions! Should I extend my health or magic? Or just eat a tin can?
  • 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 travelers already defeated.
  • Goomba Springboard: Shovel Bouncing off of enemies lets the protagonist reach higher platforms.
  • Hurricane of Puns: Croaker, who is found in the basement of the Village, will tell you a pun every time you talk to him, ranging in quality from pretty funny to groan-inducing. There's even an achievement for getting him to tell you all of them.
  • "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight:
    • The first phase of the final boss fight. The Enchantress is actually Shield Knight under the influence of the cursed amulet.
    • Black Knight actually tried to reach Shield Knight with words, but to no avail, much to his despair.
  • Intercontinuity Crossover: The Xbox and PlayStation versions of the game allow one to battle the Battletoads and Kratos from God of War, respectively, as well as gain relics that allow Shovel Knight to perform techniques with his shovel based upon those characters' fighting styles.
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: "Shovelry" note 
  • It's Up to You: Without Shovel Knight and Shield Knight to protect the land in their adventures, evil has taken hold. When Shovel Knight sees the chaos, he realizes it's up to him to save the day! But Shovel Knight has little interest in saving the day until the very end: the only reason he's adventuring is to get back to the Tower of Fate and try to save Shield Knight, and the only reason he's taking on the Order of No Quarter and the Enchantress is because they're in his way.
  • King Mook: The Big Creep, which serves as the boss of the Hall of Champions. It can do much more than just slowly float towards Shovel Knight.
  • Knight of Cerebus: Even after The Reveal, The Enchantress is the only villain in the game who is not played for laughs and is portrayed as evil throughout.
  • Lame Pun Reaction: Toader looks even grumpier every time Shovel Knight tells him a pun.
  • 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 means to recover health in New Game Plus without wasting a chalice of Ichor of Renewal or coming across a rare carrot or apple.
  • Mistaken Identity: Reize mistakes Shovel Knight for Black Knight.
  • Mythology Gag: The item Kratos bestows upon Shovel Knight after his boss fight is the "Grave Digger's Shovel." In God of War, the Grave Digger is a disguise used by Zeus.
  • Not Completely Useless:
    • The Ornate Plate 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, its 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 (in a matter of speaking). Beyond that, it lets you move through the air where dirt blocks are by punching them.
  • Our Wormholes Are Different: The crossover with the Battletoads, characters from a sci-fi series of games, is Handwaved as them accidentally taking a space warp to Shovel Knight's world.
  • Pungeon Master:
    • Croaker. Trying to cheer up Toader results in Shovel Knight himself becoming one of these.
    • The level start messages include a plethora of shovel jokes, like "Dig in", "Justice in Spades", "For Shovelry", and "It's Shoveling Time!".
  • Resourceful Rodent: The propeller rats are airborne enemies that wear propellers strapped to their backs. They are smart enough to wield weapons such as scissors and bombs to use against the protagonists.
  • Shout-Out: At the end of the main campaign, in Pridemoor Castle, King Knight is scrubbing the floors for the real king. "After you've scrubbed all the floors in Hyrule..."
  • Shovel Strike: Shovel Knight's main weapon is a shovel, in case that wasn't already obvious.
  • Silence, You Fool!: King Knight responds to Shovel Knight's promise to dispense shovel justice with an angry cry of "SILENCE!"
  • Sleep Cute: In The Stinger, Shield Knight drags herself to Shovel Knight's campsite and ends up resting next to him in this fashion.
  • Solid Gold Poop: Request an ichor from the Troupple King that will give you either full magic and health, 10 seconds of invincibility, or the ability to absorb nearby treasure for 60 seconds and he hocks a loogie into your cup.
  • Stealth Pun: The Dust Knuckles are a play on the term "knuckle duster", a nickname for brass knuckles.
  • 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 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.
  • Undying Loyalty: During the ending, when Shovel Knight finally reunites with Shield Knight.
    Shield Knight: You never gave up on me!
    Shovel Knight: I will NEVER give up on you. I will follow you to the end of the world.
  • Unexpected Gameplay Change: The Super Boss fight against the Battletoads within the Xbox version has you briefly play 2 minigames while you battle them: one where Shovel Knight and one of the Battletoads are being lowered to the ground via rope á la Wookie Hole from the NES Battletoads game, and one based upon the infamous "Turbo Tunnel" segments from the Battletoads games. You can play the latter minigame at any time once you've beaten them.
  • 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.
  • Video Game Caring Potential:
    • 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.
  • We Can Rule Together: Polar Knight attempts to get Shovel Knight to join the Order. The Enchantress has also been pulling this on Black Knight.
  • We Used to Be Friends: Polar Knight and Shovel Knight were friends and even shared an oath.
    • They probably bonded on the fact that both of them use shovels as weapons. (Shovel Knight uses a spade shovel for directly attacking while Polar Knight uses it as an anti-air shield and to roll up the snow into snow boulders to be used as projectiles.)
  • Weakened by the Light: Invisishades 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, although the enemies themselves aren't found in many other levels.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: After the defeat of the Enchantress, we get to see what happened to everyone else.
    • Pridemoor Keep — King Knight — "The rightful king returns"; King Pridemoor is back to power, ending King Knight's tyranny and reducing him to scrub the floors.
    • Troupple Pond — "Let the celebrations begin"; the dancer, Troupple King and Troupple Accolyte all celebrate dancing.
    • The Lich Yard — Specter Knight — "The life of the party"; Specter Knight plays Mona's minigame and fails.
    • Iron Whale — Treasure Knight — "Ill-gotten gain reclaimed"; all of Treasure Knight's money is claimed by the people.
    • Explodatorium — Plague Knight — "Advanced Potion Class"; Plague Knight imparts an alchemy class, with the Alchemaister turning into a copy of the Magicist as a result.
    • Lost City — Mole Knight — "Excavations and Expeditions"; in which Mole Knight is seen helping travelers and knights explore the Lost City.
    • The Wandering Travellers — "Always ready for battle"; where the four are shown preparing to fight a group of Liquid Samurai.
    • Flying Machine — Propeller Knight — "Living the life carefree"; which shows Propeller Knight attracting a group of women (and one man).
    • Clockwork Tower — Tinker Knight — "Toys for the children"; showing Tinker Knight creating a small toy replica of the Tinker Tank.
    • Stranded Ship — Polar Knight — Showing Polar Knight staring at the horizon.
  • Where It All Began: Shovel Knight must return to the Tower of Fate, where he lost Shield Knight.
  • World of Pun: You can expect a fair amount of shovel and dig puns in the game.
  • Your Worst Memory: Shovel Knight has a recurring playable dream of Shield Knight falling from a great height, struggling to catch her whilst fending off increasingly stronger enemies. These dreams represent his guilt over his failure to save Shield Knight during their battle in the Tower. Later, she falls for real when freed from the influence of the Amulet. The player can choose whether to catch her just as in the dream sequences.

    Plague of Shadows Examples
Toss bombs in this tricky alternate quest!
Long ago, the lands were untamed, and roamed by legendary adventurers!
But villainy ran rampant, and in time, even the most stalwart heroes fell.
In the absence of champions, the Enchantress and her Order of No Quarter swept into power.
Unbeknownst to everyone, the maniacal alchemist Plague Knight had plans of his own.
He sought nothing less than to concoct a potion of unlimited power!
A draft so fiendishly potent that nothing he desired would be out of his reach.
Each knight unknowingly guards a crucial ingredient. Now, the collection must begin...

  • 100% Completion: Collecting all 420 Cipher Coins (you only need 230 in total to unlock all the upgrades in Mona's shop and for Percy to fix his catapult) in Plague Of Shadows unlocks the Pandemonium Chalice. Showing it to the Troupple King allows him to grant you the Pandemonium Cloak, which randomly changes your bomb properties, Arcana, and burst every 10 seconds but also bypasses any bomb number limits, allowing you to kill most things in record time with multiple Cluster and Cascade Powder bombs if you happen to get either one of those.
  • Ability Depletion Penalty: Plague Knight's Arcana items use a recharging Alchemy Power meter in contrast to the other three campaigns' limitations. This enables Plague to use his items as much as he wants... within reason. Emptying his whole Alchemy Power causes him to "blow out", cutting out any usage of Arcanas until the meter fully recharges.
  • Alternate Timeline: Possibly. The ending "where are they now" scene is entirely dissimilar from Shovel Knight's, and as such cannot exist in the same course of events with it... yet, at the same time, the campaign's story is modeled in such a way that absolutely everything Shovel Knight went through could have still happened, and you actually see him going through his journey as Plague's progresses. This even extends so far as him going to face the Enchantress, as she vanishes after her essence has been taken, but the lack of Shield Knight's reappearance shows she has yet to be actually defeated. Word of God says that the campaign is told from Plague Knight's point of view, so what he says happened and what actually happened may not be the same thing...
  • Antagonist Title: The Plague of Shadows campaign is named after the first form of the mode's final boss.
  • Anti-Hero: Plague Knight. His methods are still underhanded, he still has a ulterior motive, he's still a Bad Boss to his minions, and he still gets in trouble with the law, due to being associated with The Order. But at the end of the day, Plague Knight helps to take down the Enchantress and destroy the Tower of Fate. Due to saving the land, he, Mona, and the rest of his crew are praised as heroes alongside Shovel Knight and no longer have to operate like criminals in the shadows.
  • Artificial Brilliance: When fought as a boss, Shovel Knight has some clever reactions towards the player: he'll reflect bombs coming straight up to him with great accuracy, if blocks of the arena are obstructing his way, he'll blow the War Horn to clear the path, if the player is jumping too much — or on a higher ground — he'll use Throwing Anchors, if he's getting hit too many times, he'll use the Phase Locket to protect himself, to get closer safely, he'll attempt to use his Flare Wand as covering fire, and he'll also occasionally distance himself from the player to use Chaos Orbs. He'll also drink the Ichor of Renewal should you whittle down his HP to half (thankfully, he has only one cup). All this in addition to him having the same limitations a player would have as a player character (including the fact that he cam only use his relics a certain amount of times before he can't use them anymore).
  • Ascended Glitch: The cheat "PL&VER200" allows you to restore a bug from version 2.0 of the game, where Plague Knight could charge a Bomb Burst with one button while throwing bombs with another button.
  • Book Ends: The story begins with Plague Knight and Mona talking about the old alchemist saying "The bigger the explosion, the better the alchemist"; the story ends with the two reciting the same quote right before they use the Ultimate Potion to blow up the Tower of Fate.
  • Boring, but Practical:
    • The Float Burst for Plague Knight makes him descend slower after doing a burst jump. While it doesn't provide much combat benefit, it makes bomb jumping considerably safer, easier to control, and helps a lot whenever you have to traverse long segments full of ground hazards.
    • The Vat Arcana's only use is to summon a vat directly under Plague Knight to use as a platform, which then slowly starts sinking and falls off the screen. However, since using it instantly resets your jumps and gives you a chance to charge up another Bomb Burst, this can save your skin if you mess up a jump or get knocked back by an enemy into a pit.
  • But Thou Must!: There's no way to avoid the second fight with Black Knight that leads to Mona's departure for the remainder of the game. As soon as you beat any Order member in the third set, he spawns on the map to block the path back to other levels, and unlike in Shovel of Hope, he never moves from that spot.
  • Catharsis Factor: In-Universe, one man in the Hall of Champions says that Plague Knight blowing up all the artwork feels cathartic for him as well.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Shovel Knight can be seen interacting with the NPCs while Plague Knight's taking the secret route to Mona's lair. He becomes the boss of Explodatorium in Plague Knight's stead.
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: In Plague of Shadows, when you face Shovel Knight in the Explodatorium, he has all 10 health bubbles and access to the War Horn. In the normal campaign, it's impossible to have those by the time you fight Plague Knight since you can only get the War Horn in Polar Knight's stage, which is only accessible after beating the second tier of knights, one of whom is Plague Knight. You might say he was on New Game Plus, but here he takes regular damage instead of double.
  • Continuity Nod: In New Game Plus, you can see a picture of Mona in Plague Knight's secret room, reminiscent of how the two finally came together, even though the two are back to square one as far as the story is concerned.
  • Contrasting Sequel Main Character: As opposed to the legitimately heroic and kind Shovel Knight, Plague Knight is a bad guy and unabashed jerk. Their gameplay differences help; whereas Shovel Knight's got good mobility that can be made better with items along with predominantly up-close attacks, while Plague Knight's mobility is below average, but gets better once you learn how he works with predominantly ranged attacks.
  • Contrived Coincidence: In Plague of Shadows, the only reason why Shovel Knight and Plague Knight happened to be at the Explodatorium at the same time is because Shovel Knight just happened to be raiding it while Plague Knight investigated an incident that happened during his absence.
  • Cruelty Is the Only Option: You have to blow up the hedgehog's house to proceed. Oh well, serves him right for losing the keys to Plague Knight's secret lair passage.
  • Dancing with Myself: After defeating the first two members of the Order of No Quarter, the return to the Potionarium sees Plague Knight not riding the torque lifts down immediately — because Mona, who normally operates them, is waltzing by herself in her alone time. Judging from her dialogue when she's subsequently interrupted, she does this fairly often. She's practicing for if she ever gets the chance to dance with Plague himself, going by the waltz they share in the ending.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: In a reversal of Shovel Knight's version of the Hall of Champions, within Plague Knight's version of the exact same stage, the rooms are lit when there's still enemies within the area, but darken when there's not. Said enemies happen to be the city guard who only attacked Plague Knight because they still believed he's part of the Order of No Quarter.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: After completing the first two Order of No Quarter stages, the return to the Potionarium has Plague Knight accidentally walking in on Mona dancing by herself. She's clearly embarrassed over getting caught, asking Plague Knight how long he was watching. He reassures her that he barely saw anything and that he's not a creep, but mentions that dancing by yourself doesn't seem very fun. All in all, it's easy to interpret the scene as an allegory for Mona getting caught doing something else.
  • Double Unlock: In order to obtain new bomb parts and burst jumps for Plague Knight to mess around with, he first has to trade in enough Cipher Coins to Mona so she can research a set, and then he has to purchase each part with gold.
  • Dueling Player Characters: Shovel Knight himself is fought as a boss in Plague of Shadows. The fight is as hectic as you'd imagine, with him using several tricks against you.
  • Early Game Hell: A couple parts of the very first stage of Plague of Shadows can be rough if you haven't yet gotten comfortable with Plague Knight's radically different control scheme. You also don't have any upgrades to improve your mobility yet.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: Being the first new campaign added to the game, it's got quite a few differences from the later two:
    • Almost all of the Order member stage layouts are barely altered, save for adding in Cipher Coins, changing the terrain to make it so that Plague Knight doesn't break the game, and putting in extra rooms where Plague Knight finds the Relics. Likewise, the Order members themselves have no new changes in their tactics.
    • Plague Knight can fight all four of the Wandering Travelers like Shovel Knight, something that can't be done in Specter of Torment (with Baz being a brief gag and Mr. Hat a cameo in the epilogue; only Phantom Striker and Reize are fought) or King of Cards (while Baz, Phantom Striker, and Mr. Hat can be fought, Reize is completely absent barring Joustus Cards).
    • Music Sheets are present, almost all of which are present exactly where they were before. Specter of Torment would remove Music Sheets entirely, with the game introducing a Sound Test on the main menu.
    • Plague Knight can access almost every location from Shovel of Hope, save for the starting town, which the guard refuses to let him enter. He also faces off against the gauntlet of bosses in Tower of Fate: Ascent, whereas Specter of Torment skips reimagining that level completely, and King of Cards has an almost entirely new layout for the Tower of Fate.
    • The story takes place concurrently with Shovel of Hope. Both Specter of Torment and King of Cards are prequels to the main game.
    • Plague Knight's sprites are significantly shrunken down compared to both Specter Knight and King Knight, whose sprites are still fairly close to their boss graphics and only slightly downsized. This is because the stages in Plague of Shadows are largely the same as in Shovel of Hope (with a few alterations), and therefore he needs to have the same proportions as Shovel Knight.
    • There's a boss fight with Shovel Knight himself; the character has very little prominence in either of the two prequels.
    • The New Game Plus is identical to Shovel Knight's (you take double damage, most food is replaced with bombs, and checkpoints are minimal in number), unlike Specter Knight, whose Will and Darkness become one constantly depleting meter, and King Knight, who only gets four health but gains a Money Multiplier and spends money to use Heirlooms.
  • Elaborate Underground Base: Plague Knight's underground laboratory, the Potionarium, is located below the Village and can only be accessed via hidden lifts in Mona's minigame room, which is itself connected to a secret entrance below a house.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The second form of the Plague of Shadows, the Corrupted Essence, resembles a highly distorted version of Plague Knight.
  • Exact Words: The intro text makes Plague Knight out to be a villainous Starscream who only joined the Order of No Quarter to help him along with his own evil scheme to brew the "ultimate potion", with which "nothing he desired would be in out of his reach". It turns out he was only brewing the ultimate potion to woo Mona to his side. After finding out Mona loved him anyway, he destroys said potion due to already having "everything he desires".
  • Face–Heel Turn: Or possibly a Heel–Face Turn depending on how you look at it; when you enter The Explodatorium, all of Plague Knight's former minions have turned on him and will attack him without hesitation. It's never revealed why they turned on him (though given how Plague Knight generally treats his minions it’s not hard to imagine why they did).
  • Gameplay and Story Integration: Plague Knight performs a burst jump by holding the attack button, meaning that he tosses out a bomb beforehand. In the intro stage cutscene that shows how the burst jump works, Plague Knight's minions indeed toss out bombs before burst jumping away.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: The campaign seemingly takes place at the same time as Shovel Knight's, but his boss fight has a few Relics from after the level, which he couldn't logically have at the Explodatorium the first time you play it, due to Plague Knight not having sold them yet. The properties of some of the sub weapons are also different, but especially the War Horn, can't destroy blocks in Shovel of Hope, but can in Plague of Shadows, which he uses to clear a path, along with having much shorter range.
  • Heads I Win, Tails You Lose: The fights against Shovel Knight within Plague of Shadows are this, as right after you've beaten him, he'll perform a surprise attack that knocks Plague Knight unconscious. Not that Plague Knight cares, as he still gets what he wants from beating him.
  • How Much Did You Hear?: Mona's reaction to being caught dancing alone is immediately asking Plague Knight how long he was watching her.
  • Implied Death Threat: Plague Knight makes one to Percy near the start of the game after Percy asks for help with finding paper. Percy doesn't seem to get it.
    Plague Knight: Heh, do you need glue as well? I know how we can make some, hee hee.
    Percy: Oh! Why, thank you, but just the paper will do...
  • Interspecies Romance: At the end of Plague of Shadows, the human Magicist hooks up with Percy the horse-man.
  • Life Energy: Possibly the best way to describe the "Essences" that Plague Knight extracts from other members of the Order of No Quarter and Shovel Knight, assuming it really isn't their souls he's extracting from them.
  • Meaningful Name: "Plague of Shadows" is the name of the penultimate boss of the identically-named campaign, being a shadowy copy of Plague Knight.
  • "Metaphor" Is My Middle Name: The Troupple King will only grant his ichors for noble causes. Fortunately for Plague Knight, "Noble" is his middle name.
  • Missed Him by That Much: The first time you enter the secret passageway to the Potionarium, you can always catch Shovel Knight walking into the village, just a few seconds after you left. In general, Plague Knight's also just slightly ahead of Shovel Knight during regular gameplay as well, considering Plague finds the Relics first and gives them to Chester, who sells them to Shovel Knight.
  • Motive Misidentification: In his first appearance, Black Knight claims Plague Knight's goal is to make the Ultimate Potion so that he can romance the Magicist. He got the plan right, but missed the target: Mona.
  • Musical Spoiler: The soundtrack to Plague of Shadows lists Shovel Knight's battle theme as "Battling the Burrower", spoiling the fact that he becomes a boss fight within that mode.
  • Noodle Incident: Percy says that his catapult will send Plague Knight into an armored fortress, but Plague Knight doesn't trust Percy's coordinates, due to the last time resulting in him being stuck out in the middle of the ocean, with all of his potions waterlogged. Naturally, his fears are right: he lands right inside Armor Outpost while trying to stay incognito, even though taking over Armor Outpost is ultimately a boon.
  • Orbiting Particle Shield: A bomb casing that Plague Knight can obtain is the Orbit casing, which, when thrown, causes bombs to circle around Plague Knight. It's not too useful against bosses, as most of their attacks will simply ignore the bombs, but it works well against enemies that approach you at odd angles.
  • Sequel Hook: In Plague Knight's credit sequence, Specter Knight's scene has him discovering that the Phase Locket is gone, and his reaction is to cut the treasure chest in half in a rage, hinting at his later role in Specter of Torment.
  • Sheathe Your Sword: During the fight with the Plague of Shadows, an alternative method of defeating it is standing completely still. The boss will never harm you as long as you never move a muscle, and after 40 seconds, the fight will end, and he'll compliment your resolve and die automatically, letting you move on to the second part of the fight.
  • Static Electricity: Plague Knight mocks Phantom Striker by comparing his electric powers to this.
    Phantom Striker: I seek only to find the bravest fighters, and test them.
    Plague Knight: What, by rubbing your shoes on the carpet and poking them? I’ve got places to be, haha! Zap!
  • Stealth Pun: The challenge "Grave Robber" requires Plague Knight to collect all the money hidden in an area that is built as a loop, in contrast to more linear challenge stages. It's set in the Lich Yard, the Castlevania-inspired area of the game, and the only tool at Plague Knight's disposal is the Spin Burst, which sends him into a damaging somersault that destroys everything he touches, much like the Screw Attack from Metroid. In all aspects, this challenge qualifies as Metroidvania.
  • Twice Shy: Neither Plague Knight nor Mona are willing to flat-out state that they're into each other. Plague Knight believes himself to be not good enough for Mona, and is planning on using the Ultimate Potion to solve that problem. As for Mona, while she does try to get close to Plague once or twice, she never is willing to outright say anything without assistance, and the closest she gets to admitting her love is when she asks Plague Knight "Are we partners? Are we more?" after hearing Black Knight's rumor that Plague is pining for the Magicist. Ultimately, Black Knight is the one who helps the two of them get together; after having Mona attempt to bribe him to keep Plague safe, and hearing straight from Plague that he's trying to win Mona over, he brings Mona to Plague during the final boss, where she finally admits her love for him.
  • Unreliable Narrator: A Tweet from Yacht Club Games suggests that the campaign is actually from Plague Knight's perspective, which would go a way in explaining the behavior of Shovel Knight after you defeat him.
  • Video Game Caring Potential: After being defeated, Baz can be hired by Plague Knight as a minion. If you do so, he'll occasionally restock Plague Knight's Tonics for free. If you don't hire him, he disappears and you're stuck with either buying them from the Magicist or finding them in stages.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential:
    • Despite not having any reason to, Plague Knight can blow up his minions. This has absolutely no gameplay effect. This is particularly satisfying to do on the minion in the Explodatorium for having failed to maintain the order in Plague Knight's absence.
    • It's possible to toss bombs into the pipe-like growth on Oolong's head, causing him to burp out explosions. You need to do this once for a music scroll, and doing it with every powder type grants the "Poor Oolong" feat.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: It's never explained what became of The Enchantress. Black Knight went to follow her, but she isn't seen again after that. Presumably she was defeated by Shovel Knight, as in the main campaign.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: Just like in Shovel Of Hope, after using the Ultimate Potion to blow up The Tower of Fate, we get to see what happened to everyone, from Plague Knight's perspective.
    • Pridemoor Keep — King Knight — "Knighted by the King"; same as Shovel of Hope, with the addition of Plague Knight being knighted in front of the grudging King Knight.
    • Troupple Pond — "Dancing the Night away"; same as Shovel of Hope, but with the Troupple Missionary added and Oolong replacing the dancer.
    • Lich Yard — Specter Knight — "The Missing Locket"; Specter Knight looks for the chest where the Phase Locket was, only to not find it, slicing the chest in anger.
    • Iron Whale — Treasure Knight — "Pillaging the Pillager"; Plague Knight and his minions steal what's left of Treasure Knight's gold, and leave him with a Bait Bomb.
    • Explodatorium — Plague Knight — "Under New Management"; Plague Knight's minions celebrate, while Percy and the Magicist are working on a catapult and are shown to be romantically interested in each other.
    • Lost City — Mole Knight — "Cooperative Cloning"; Mole Knight is shown providing Plague Knight with the goo from Lost City to create various Slimulacras.
    • The Wandering Travellers — "The Battle Rages On"; same as Shovel of Hope, but Shovel Knight defeats the Liquid Samurai before the Wandering Travelers could.
    • Clockwork Tower — Tinker Knight — "Tweaking the Torque Lifts" — Tinker Knight is helped by Plague Knight and Mona to implement the same twisting elevators that they use in the Clockwork Tower.
    • Stranded Ship — Polar Knight — "Reunion"; Black Knight and Polar Knight meet under a campfire.
    • Flying Machine — Propeller Knight — Plague Knight and Mona are on a date, with Propeller Knight serving as the waiter.
  • You Fool!: When Plague Knight reveals to Black Knight that he's only creating the Ultimate Potion so that he can use it to become stronger and get Mona to love him, Black Knight calls him this for failing to see that she already does.

    Specter of Torment Examples
Slash and dash through the tragic prequel!
Long ago, the lands were untamed, and roamed by legendary adventurers!
But although the land is peaceful... for some, freedom is a far gone memory.
Specter Knight, servant to the Enchantress, has been given a harrowing task.
He must recruit a group of knights and form an invincible order!
With each member gathered, a treasured keepsake grows in power...
An artifact that can restore his humanity, but only when his task is complete.
Now, he leaves the confines of the Tower of Fate. It's time for the reaper to pursue his quarry.

  • 100% Completion: Collecting all the red skulls allows Specter Knight to use his old equipment from when he was still alive.
  • Absurdly Sharp Blade: Specter Knight's scythe is capable of slicing cannonballs in two.
  • Act of True Love: Specter Knight sacrifices his freedom and resurrection for Reize's safety after an entire campaign of trying to get it back.
  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • Cloak of Clemency will prevent Specter Knight from instantly dying at the cost of 2 bars of Darkness and 4 points of Will, depositing him to the nearest stable platform and making him invincible until you press a button, essentially letting you fall into a pit or touch spikes 2 times per life at full Darkness and Will before you run out. Since this mode is nothing short of bottomless pits and spikes, this helps a lot.
    • Missy will sell any Will or Darkness Wisps you may have missed during levels.
    • The dash slash is biased towards slashing diagonally upwards, making it more difficult to die to Bottomless Pits due to a botched dash slash. He's also moved just slightly upward if you miss by an inch, to keep the dash slash from being botched.
  • Artificial Brilliance: If a boss takes a certain amount of damage from a Skeletal Sentry, they'll temporarily ignore you and prioritize destroying the Sentry.
  • Ascended Extra:
    • Reize gets a lot more plot prominence and a mandatory boss fight.
    • The Dark Acolyte is revealed in the epilogue to be the Troupple Acolyte from the main game and Plague of Shadows.
  • Batman Gambit: At the end of the campaign, the Enchantress reveals that she had corrupted and enslaved Reize so that Specter Knight would sacrifice his one chance of freedom and serve as her eighth knight by using the power of the locket to free Reize from her control.
  • Black Comedy: One of the undead Non Player Characters in the tower cheerfully talks about how much they enjoy being dead.
    Ghost: Wow, I sure do love being dead! Thanks, Specter Knight!
  • Bittersweet Ending:
    • Specter Knight fails to leave his servitude of the Order of No Quarter, with the Order making their move to conquer the land, but Reize's life is safe, and due to the events of the main game, the Order will fall eventually.
    • The end of Shovel Knight's campaign shows that while the Enchantress and the Tower have been destroyed and Specter Knight is no longer forced to do the former's bidding, he's still presumably stuck as an undead Knight forever. That said, he seems to be enjoying himself, suggesting he's become able to move on in some capacity.
  • Boring, but Practical:
    • The hover plume. It simply lets you float upwards a bit; however, it can save you from pits and make some trickier jumps easier.
    • The Judgement Rush automatically targets the nearest enemy and dash towards them before slicing them for a full health point as opposed to a half point like most attacks do. It's useful for saving yourself from botched jumps, closing in on an agile boss to deal more damage with grounded slices, and can be used to skip a good number of obstacles.
    • The Dread Talon is among the very first Curios you can get, but remains consistently useful due to having a high damage output that kills enemies very quickly, a low Darkness cost, and the upgrade increasing attack range while stopping the attack from being interrupted.
  • Call a Hit Point a "Smeerp": Because Specter Knight is undead, he has a Will meter instead of a Life meter.
  • Call-Forward:
    • While the levels have all been redesigned to be mostly new, there are still some segments and rooms that resemble the levels as presented in the original two campaigns.
    • In the epilogue, Plague Knight and Mona are seen setting up shop underground, setting up the events of Plague of Shadows (complete with a musical snippet taken from that campaign's intro). Plague Knight's sprites also look exactly as they did in his campaign, rather than the taller look he sports in the original game and this one.
    • Eagle-eyed players can find Specter Knight's room in the Lich Yard, similarly to Plague Knight's secret room in Plague of Shadows. However, unlike Plague Knight's, the room has some familiar block formations, and breaking open a locked section reveals a hidden chest. The epilogue reveals that this room was the one that Plague Knight finds the Phase Locket in.
    • The Enchantress empowers and brainwashes Reize the same way she does to Black Knight in Shovel of Hope.
  • Contrasting Sequel Main Character: Whereas Shovel Knight and Plague Knight have a goal involving someone they loved, Specter Knight's goals involve escaping the Enchantress's employ, making him much more selfish, impulsive, and cynical, but not incapable of altruistic acts, in spite of starting as an adventurer like Shovel Knight himself. His gameplay also has a great emphasis on movement and speed, with his movement options not as limited as Shovel Knight's, but he isn't as powerful at traversing terrain as Plague Knight is with his bomb jumps.
  • Darker and Edgier: While not lacking the game's signature humor, the tone of the story is much more serious and character-centered, and delves into Specter Knight's near-death and resurrection, along with his doomed goal of being free of the Enchantress. It is also the first campaign where a major character truly dies: Donovan's partner Luan remains dead throughout all of the expansion, and never ends up resurrected or still alive like Shield Knight.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: The reason the Dancer is so keen on Shovel Knight beating up Specter Knight in the Lich Yard? He ignored her dance and told her to go away.
  • Doomed by Canon:
    • Donovan, aka Specter Knight, will be stuck with the Order up until at least the end of the main game, which means his goal to be free is doomed from the start.
    • Luan, Donovan's partner who is only shown in flashbacks in the first raid of the Tower of Fate, and doesn't appear in the main campaign. With this in mind, it's clear he won't leave the tower alive.
  • Forced into Evil: A majority of the Order members, but Tinker Knight and Mole Knight in particular; they were already busy with their own projects before Specter Knight came along.
  • Foregone Conclusion:
    • Due to the main game being about defeating the members of the Order of No Quarter, it's certain that all except Phantom Striker will be recruited.
    • Specter Knight seeks to be free of the Enchantress, but since this is a prequel, that goal is doomed from the outset.
    • Reize will be fine and deprogrammed of the Enchantress's influence by the time the expansion ends.
    • And Baz doesn't get to join the Order at all.
  • Four Is Death:
    • For every four points of damage done to a boss, Specter Knight recovers some Darkness.
    • After defeating four knights (Black Knight included), Reize bursts into the tower and falls under the Enchantress's control. Excluding Black Knight, this happens when entering the fourth stage you choose to go to.
  • Grind Boots: Specter Knight can use his scythe to grind on rails. With a certain outfit, he can also grind on the ground and spikes.
  • Heel–Face Turn:
    • The Dark Acolyte that helps Specter Knight recruit the Order of No Quarter flees at the end of the game to become the Troupple Acolyte and help Shovel Knight.
    • Specter Knight does this and tries to defeat the Enchantress himself for a few reasons. Not the least of which is that she has the amulet that would restore him to life, what she's done to the son of his old partner, and because she's possessing Shield Knight. He even teams up with the other example of this trope to do so.
  • Meaningful Background Event: As Specter Knight recruits Knights, the areas in the distance of the beginning balcony change.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Missy. She sells you all the Wisps you missed when you play through a level.
    • Manny is an amalgamation of many... things that form a single body, like the Biblical Legion. Of course, that name is also used in the hub area for an identical mass of creatures.
  • Monochrome Past: Specter Knight's flashbacks are done in sepia (specifically, a variation of sepia that resembles the original Game Boy palette).
  • No-Gear Level:
    • Whenever Specter Knight exchanges Red Skulls to gain a Curio, he gets taken to a miniature challenge room that prevents him from swinging his scythe or using any of the Curios he already has. Instead, he has to grab the new Curio and use it to make it through the room and reach Red. The Shadow Mirror stage is a partial exception, as Specter Knight can use his scythe during it (since the Curio wouldn't be functional otherwise).
    • In the flashback stages, Donovan naturally lacks the armors and Curios that Specter Knight has in the present time, only being able to use Caltrops. The fight with Shield Knight is difficult in part because it can't be cheesed with powerful Curios.
  • Out of Focus: Shovel Knight doesn't make an on-screen appearance in this campaign, not even in the flashback where him and Shield Knight get to the Tower of Fate. The closest thing he gets to a reference is by a minor minion, who states that "Even the most legendary or stalwart knights could never stand a chance", with "legendary" in Shield Knight's scarlet and "stalwart" in Shovel Knight's blue.
  • Permanently Missable Content: Averted during the Memories stages; if Donovan neglects to grab the Caltrops Curio before finishing the first stage (which can't be replayed), then Luan will give it to him at the beginning of the second stage.
  • Prequel: The campaign is about Specter Knight recruiting the members of the Order of No Quarter, rather than being on the same journey as Shovel Knight as with Plague Knight in Plague of Shadows.
  • Press X to Die: Specter Knight can dash-attack through enemies either up or down depending on his position. There's no reason he'd ever use the down-slash with a hazard below him, but it's still offered in that (very common) situation — and dash attacks override the attack button whenever they're available. You will lose many lives to this pointless option.
  • Production Foreshadowing: The cards thrown by King Knight in his boss battle have been stated on a Yacht Club Games Twitch stream to be a reference to Joustus, one of the focal points of King of Cards. At the time, though, they weren't aware of how exactly Joustus itself would work, hence why the cards are merely projectiles and don't reference the card game more specifically. Indeed, during the ending of King of Cards proper, several Mooks are shown stuffing Joustus cards into the horns King Knight uses.invoked
  • Sequel Hook: A Prequel Hook rather, and an easily missable one at that: all of the stages are Specter Knight scouting the lands to recruit Knights... except for Pridemoor Keep. There, Specter Knight has been "tasked with setting King Knight back on schedule", hinting that King Knight was recruited before the other Knights and that his story may take place yet further in the past, before Specter Knight's.
  • Serial Escalation: Plague of Shadows is, aside from a few tweaks, the base game, except Plague Knight has his own distinct playstyle and physics. Specter Knight ups the ante, with new levels, weapons, gameplay mechanics, and pre-established boss characters having new tricks up their sleeves.
  • Sewer Level: Specter Knight's route through the Explodatorium is similar to one of these, bringing him through mazes of piping that channel streams of aqueous buffer.
  • Shoo Out the New Guy: Black Knight fights Specter Knight alongside Terrorpin, who wasn't there in Shovel of Hope. The credits show why: it's being taken care of by Polar Knight after its fall off the Tower of Fate.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: Upon defeating Plague Knight, one of his henchmen will wander the top of the castle. Upon being talked to, he'll say that Plague Knight "always" stays in the Explodatorium, and doesn't go anywhere else. He then gives you three pink diamonds in an attempt to bribe you.
  • Sinister Scythe: Specter Knight's weapon of choice, as well as two of his Curio weapons: the Throwing Sickle and Spider Scythe.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Bosses here are not messing around. Even King Knight is a legitimate threat and he can create one-hit kill pits in his arena this time around. Somewhat of an inversion, though, as this is a Prequel.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: The trailers freely showed off Reize's brainwashing and boss fight.
  • The Unfought: Since the campaign is a prequel to the main story and Plague of Shadows that focuses on the Enchantress recruiting the Order of No Quarter, Shovel Knight doesn't even appear, much less serve as a boss battle. Surprisingly, even when Specter Knight — then still alive and known as Donovan — faces off against Shield Knight in the Tower of Fate over the cursed amulet in a flashback, he's nowhere to be seen. Specter Knight also doesn't get to fight two of the wandering heroes; Baz at least makes it seem as if he's going to pick a fight before giving up, but Mr. Hat only appears in the end credits.
  • Video Game Caring Potential: Playing with the Memmec in the Tower of Fate lets it drop money, in addition to being super cute.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: You can also hit Memmec's ball away from it and drop it into the pit nearby. It'll attempt to catch the ball as it falls, fail, then sulk back to its sleeping spot.
  • Wall Jump: Specter Knight is the only playable character who can innately jump off walls, which helps with his poor jumping height.
  • Wall Run: Specter Knight can walls a short distance up certain walls (each stage has distinct tiles for walls he can and can't climb) and perform a Wall Jump while doing so.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: After Specter Knight defeats Nightmare Reize and sacrifices his only chance to become human, he leaves to bring Reize back to his house, while we get to see what's happening with everyone else.
    • Pridemoor Keep — King Knight — "The Golden Reign Begins"; showing as King Knight makes his minions turn the castle into gold, while King Pridemoor is reduced to a servant sweeping the floor.
    • Troupple Pond — "The Fruit of Redemption"; Missy and the Dark Acolyte implore to the Trouple King, who is seen converting the latter into the Troupple Acolyte.
    • The Lich Yard — Specter Knight — "Overrun With The Undead"; various undead enemies raid the Lich Yard, forcing the inhabitants to leave as Phantom Striker futilely tries to hold them down. Red and Scarlet end taking residence in one of the raid houses.
    • Iron Whale — Treasure Knight — "Pay Day"; Treasure Knight is shown making financial counts as he pays his minions with little money.
    • Flying Machine — Propeller Knight — "The Fleet Takes Flight"; where Propeller Knight commands a fleet of ships to presumably invade the valley.
    • Explodatorium — Plague Knight — "Bubbling Chemistry"; Horace and various Plague Minions expand Plague Knight's laboratory as he and Mona share a moment.
    • Lost City — Mole Knight — "Letting Off Some Steam"; Mole Knight is seen having a bath along some Molers.
    • Armor Outpost — "Vanquishing The Valorous"; the Enchantress and her army invade the outpost and kill various soldiers and civilians.
    • Clockwork Tower — Tinker Knight — "Automated Assembly"; Tinker Knight has various rats being turned into Electrodents and Wizzems into Gear Wizzems to be his minions.
    • Stranded Ship — Polar Knight — "Tending to the Wounded"; showing Polar Knight aiding a wounded Terrorpin.
    • Village — "In Safe Hands at Last" — Specter Knight brings the unconscious Reize to his home, before going off.
    • Tower of Fate — The newly assembled Order of No Quarter bow in front of the Enchantress.
  • Wolverine Claws: The Dread Talon, a gauntlet with sharpened blades for fingers.

    King of Cards Examples
Match brains and brawns in this regal prequel!
Long ago, the lands were untamed, and roamed by legendary adventurers!
By all appearances, peace has flourished, and carefree new pastimes have taken hold.
A card game called Joustus has swept the land, and with it, word of a grand tournament.
Presiding over the contest are three Joustus Judges. These wise kings have been chosen to spread joy and unity.
This contest is of great interest to King Knight.
For though some call him a fool who merely plays at king, even fools know this:
Whoever defeats all three Joustus Judges will win an incredible treasure, and be crowned King of Cards!
Competing for the Joustus Crown is no simple matter, but King Knight schemes, undeterred, toward a kingdom of his own.

  • Action Bomb: One of King Knight's Heirlooms is the Rat Bombardier, which makes him toss out a rat with a cluster bomb tied to it. He can switch which direction the rat moves in with the press of a button.
  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • An early upgrade lets you fill 5 hearts worth of health for free just by holding the down button once per life/stage. This causes King Knight to fall to his knees and start bawling.
    • If you lose a useful card in a Joustus match and can't win it back from the player who took it, then you can buy it back from Chester for a small amount of gold.
      • The exception is the Brutal Bonus Joustus Boss Cardia, who flat out won't take your cards when you lose.
      • Chester also sells powerful "cheats", which can be used to turn a Joustus match in your favor instantly if you can't win it.
    • After Giga Cardia is defeated, King Knight is given an item that tells the player where the cards that are missing from their collection are, which significantly circumvents the annoyance of not knowing which ones you need to be looking for.
    • In New Game+, using Heirlooms in Joustus houses or the Glidewing will not cost any treasure.
  • Ambition Is Evil: King Knight's only goal is to become a king. If it means betraying every single one of his allies, then so be it.
  • Ascended Extra:
    • The Propeller Rats, originally simple enemies in a handful of areas, are now a main motif for King Knight, being the way he exits levels and transports characters to the Glidewing.
    • King Pridemoor was more or less just an NPC in Shovel of Hope. Here, he's a full-on boss fight, gets his own portrait, and hops on the Glidewing to make armors for King Knight.
  • Book Ends: King Knight's campaign pulls this for the entire development cycle of the game, even. At the end of the credits, King Knight lavishes lazily in his throne, reminiscing on how he has finally replaced the entirety of Pridemoor Keep's structure with solid gold, and how with this, he will truly begin his eternal rule. Then, the wall on the far side opens— and in enters Shovel Knight. The End.
  • Boring, but Practical: The Scepter of Swiftness, which sends King Knight forward in a straight line, will likely be one of the most used Heirlooms, due to allowing the player to skip chunks of levels, trickier platforming segments, and its ability to destroy blocks and kill weaker enemies without stopping.
  • Call-Forward:
    • Plague Knight if Mona is in the Glidewing, has different dialogue where he becomes nervous in her presence, something that a Plague Minion pointed out he often does in her presence in Plague of Shadows hinting at what leads him to create the Ultimate Potion in his campaign.
    • Specter Knight's deck includes the cards for Reize and Luan, two people that play a role in the events of Specter of Torment.
  • Card Battle Game: The storyline is focused on Joustus, a card game craze that's sweeping the land. Gameplay is similar to a simplified traditional card game, but with positional board game elements a la Checkers or Chess. While King Knight doesn't need to play much of it to progress (he prefers to become the King of Cards by besting the judges in battle), winning Joustus matches lets him get many of the Merit Medals and rare cards to fill out his collection.
  • Cast from Money: In New Game+, Heirlooms cost money to use. Fortunately, in this mode you gain a Money Multiplier and mana jars now give you money instead of mana, so you won't run on short supply very often.
  • Colorblind Mode: An alternate palette is available for Joustus, making the player's cards a darker blue and the opponent's cards brighter orange, making them easier to distinguish.
  • Continuing is Painful: Every time you lose a game of Joustus, you lose one of the cards you played that game, usually one of the better ones. Therefore, every time you try to rematch the same opponent, your deck gets steadily weaker and weaker until there's no chance of you winning at all. Better head back to Chester to re-buy your cards, and maybe some cheats while you're at it. Or, you know, exit and reload the game every time you lose.
  • Counter-Attack: The Turn Coat is an Heirloom that absorbs damage for a short time and releases it in the form of strong fireballs depending on the number of hits you've taken with it active: a single hit fires just a single fireball, 2 hits fires out 2 spiralling fireballs and 3 hits or more fires out 3 pairs of spiralling energy scepters on top of each other that can deal up to 3 points of damage per pair. It can also be held to make it last longer and King Knight can roll back and forward while holding it, allowing to be used to bypass hazards and enemies.
  • Contrasting Sequel Main Character: Whereas the other three knights are portrayed as sympathetic in one way or another, King Knight has little redeeming qualities, eventually losing all respect from his allies and enemies alike. The situation he's thrown in also has less stakes initially, whereas Shovel Knight wants to find Shield Knight, Plague Knight wants to brew the Ultimate Potion and Specter Knight wants to return to life, all King Knight wishes for is wealth and fame. His gameplay also reflects how brutish he is in comparison, whereas the other knights use a weapon, King Knight's main method to attack is a shoulder bash.
  • Darker and Edgier: This is the only campaign in the game that ends on a Downer Ending. King Knight loses everything, including his mother’s love, due to betraying his allies to become king. Oh and it ends with Shovel Knight reaching him and inevitably dethroning him.
  • Demoted to Extra: As this story is set before the Order of No Quarter was formed, most of the Knights who later become members of it are reduced to bit parts. Most of them are in the middle of doing their own things and randomly appear on the map similar to the Wandering Travelers, and each one will also provide a Joustus match after being bested in combat. The lone exception is Specter Knight, who is a minor recurring character.
  • Denser and Wackier: The campaign takes the silliness already inherent in Shovel Knight and runs with it, resulting in new gameplay elements such as Iron Sumos, the Propellor Rats lifting King Knight out of levels, and King Pridemoor getting into armor to throw down with King Knight.
  • Doomed by Canon: In a depressing way that fulfills the Foregone Conclusion. King Knight wants to be a king, no matter what it takes to do it. At every turn, the game reinforces what we know from the other campaigns, that King Knight is a vain brute that refuses to improve in any way, but it shows that it all comes because he thinks the only thing he needs is to be King of something and then his and his mother's lives will all fall into place, and those are the only people he actually cares about. And despite the potential of him being the King's stepson (and thus closer to the throne) if his mother really does hit things off with King Pridemoor, thanks to his own closeness with her, he gets very distressed whenever he hears the two having their flirty banter. So, when the title "King of Cards" is off the table and the magical conqueror that keeps waxing about how mighty and kingly he is offers him "control" of Pridemoor, while Pridemoor's king begs him to instead defeat her, why would such a vapid brute with a personal distaste for King Pridemoor start listening to him?
  • Downer Ending: In the end, King Knight, after learning that the titular "King of Cards" reward was a sham, and sick of shoulder-bashing for people who don't even help him fight, betrays everyone he allied with, dooms the land, kicks out father-figure King Pridemoor while forever shaming his mother, and even King Knight himself seems ashamed of alienating his mother, and is trying to bury it in his victory. And it ends with Shovel Knight confronting him, making everything he did All for Nothing.
  • Drop the Hammer: One of King Knight's relics is a massive hammer, which beats healing hearts out of enemies in addition to hitting a wide arc.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: King Knight might be a ruthless brute, and he might be adverse to her caring tendencies, but he wants to gain the King of Cards title to secure comfort for both him and his mother. When his mother shames him after he finally claims his spot on Pridemoor's throne, King Knight is initially distraught but hastily buries it under his victory.
  • Exact Words: When King Knight confronts King Pridemoor in a duel (not of Joustus, but actual fighting), this is how he takes it.
    King Pridemoor: Oh, I see! The rules only say "defeat the Joustus judges". Not actually having to play cards... Clever. The letter of the law, if not the spirit.
  • Final Boss, New Dimension: After completing all Houses of Joustus, Cardia teleports King Knight to some sort of space dimension and challenges him in one more Joustus match to decide his fate. It first looks like it's Played for Laughs, but then she transforms into a Super Boss after defeating her...
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: King Knight, despite what his clothes imply, starts off the game as an impoverished peasant who lives in a small village with some pet rats and his mom, who needs him to find money so she can make him meals. At the end of the game, King Knight becomes the Enchantress' first official knight, allowing her to begin the invasion of the Valley.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: Specter Knight is shown using various curios during his boss fight, which he shouldn't be able to do yet. This campaign takes place before the start of Specter of Torment, and King Knight was already a member of the Order by that point. Therefore, none of the curios should be available for Specter Knight to use since he isn't even given the option to get them until the start of his campaign, after he'd already succeeded in recruiting King Knight.
  • Giant Mook: Iron Sumos, taller, fatter versions of the Goldarmors who fight King Knight by slamming down onto him.
  • Global Airship: The Hub Level of King of Cards is the Glidewing, Cooper's grand airship that helps transport King Knight accross the land.
  • Glove Slap: The Dueling Glove allows King Knight to weaponize this in the form of a Three-Strike Combo if you press the button multiple times.
  • Guide Dang It!: The second House of Joustus has a particular infamous wall involving one of the opponents, a Blazorb, not registering a victory against them on the banner, with some players even mistaking this as an outright Game-Breaking Bug. The banner depicts a regular Blorb, not a fiery Blazorb. The Blorb has a different deck from the Blazorb, and you need to unlock his fight by pushing a goo ball into the Blazorb. This has been made more obvious in the current version, with the Blazorb telling you this wasn't the right duel after you beat it and asking you to fight it when it's less heated. Related to this, for players observant enough to notice this right away, they will still need to defeat the Blazorb in Joustus to get the achievement for beating every Joustus opponent. However, this was also changed to not be a required battle in later updates.
  • Foregone Conclusion:
    • As comes with being a prequel, King Knight will be recruited into the Order.
    • After King Knight defeats King Pridemoor, he joins the crew of the Glidewing while still remaining king of his keep. Due to the fact he's sitting in a bar in the main game, it means that the friendly terms won't last and he'll inevitably be kicked from his own castle.
  • Hearts Are Health: Unlike the Life and Will orbs of the previous protagonists, King Knight's health is represented by hearts. The hearts only represent one point of damage each, meaning that King Knight has less health than the other characters (but also has more ways to regenerate health).
  • Interquel: The events of the game appear to take place after the incident at the Tower of Fate, but before Specter of Torment, and also covers King Knight's recruitment into the Order.
  • Joke Item: In Joustus, the Rookie card. Has no push arrows when all other cards — even the basic, infinite supply ones you have by default — have at least one, so the Rookie has virtually no uses. Fitting, for a character known only to lose all the Joustus matches he plays.
  • King Mook: The three Joustus judges, befitting of their royal status:
    • King Pridemoor, who resembles a massive Goldarmor in his boss fight.
    • The Troupple King, a giant Troupple that summons normal-size Troupples as attacks.
    • King Birder, a Birder wearing a long, flowy robe that moves with the flight pattern of one and shoot lasers that travel similarly. He's actually a decoy of the Enchantress, being an enchanted Birder with the ability to speak.
  • Later-Installment Weirdness:
    • Instead of the sizable main levels with a boss at the end, King of Cards has more but smaller levels that don't necessary end with a boss battle, much on the vein of the Super Mario Bros. games.
    • King of Cards is the only campaign to not have a repeatable dance sequence.
    • It's also the only campaign to not feature Black Knight as the Warm-Up Boss, with Specter Knight serving the role instead. Black Knight is instead the boss of the first House of Joustus.
    • Speaking of which, Joustus has a strong minigame presence within the campaign, which previous ones lacked an equivalent to.
    • While each campaign has its own unique minigame, Joustus is the only minigame that does not involve physical combat or platforming in any way.
  • Level Goal: Levels that don't end with a boss instead features a large golden pully carried by a group of Propeller Rats, which clears the stage once grabbed onto. On secret exit routes, the pully is red instead of gold.
  • Lighter and Softer: Compared to the somber, darker Specter of Torment before it, King of Cards is a lighthearted, comedic romp focusing on one of the more silly members of the Order. At least it is until the end.
  • Money Multiplier: In New Game+, you can earn up to a 5x multiplier by killing enemies, but getting hit drops you back to square one, similarly to Ratchet & Clank's Challenge Mode system.
  • Money Sink:
    • King Knight can pay an artist on the Glidewing three separate times to get a self-portrait painted, which does nothing aside from unlocking his "taunt" move (him pulling out a chair to sit in).
    • There's also Mr. Hat's shop, which only sells cosmetic enhancements to your HUD, your Joustus cards, and the Glidewing, as well as a painting (in New Game Plus) that requires the maximum amount of gold.
    • Several of the best Joustus cards are exclusive to buying random Level 4 cards from Chester and hoping you get them.
    • In a strange and obtuse way, the Heirloom stages in New Game+. The Vigor statues will only give you treasure if you have no money at all, and only a maximum of 900 gold, meaning the entire stage you'll essentially be wasting money to get to the end.
  • Mook–Face Turn: King Birder, a king of a recurring enemy within the stages, becomes allied to King Knight after his fight.
  • My Friends... and Zoidberg: An inversion: after King Knight takes the throne of Pridemoor Keep, alienating all of his former allies, he notes to himself that all the riff-raff, and his mother, are gone.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: King Pridemoor, at the end of the game, asks King Knight during the Enchantress' offer of kingship, about what King Knight's own mother would say. At that point, King Knight, who despised that his mother was flirted by Pridemoor, ends up pulling a full Face–Heel Turn and betrays everyone in a fit of rage, immediately taking the Enchantress' offer afterwards.
  • Parental Sexuality Squick: After the first world, King Pridemoor hitches a ride on the Glidewing with King Knight. Occasionally, he'll make romantic comments in the presence of King Knight's mom, who will occasionally reciprocate. King Knight doesn't enjoy this at all.
  • Parental Substitute: This is the only light part of the ending. It's implied that King Pridemoor and King Knight's mom get together at the end. In addition, the King saw fit to take King Knight under his wing. This makes the King's mercy for King Knight come off more like him punishing a son instead of humiliating a fallen foe. Granted, King Knight isn't happy about it, but he clearly needed a more firm hand growing up which the King seems keen to correct.
  • Playing Card Motifs: Again, King Knight's Life meter is displayed as hearts rather than orbs.
  • The Poorly Chosen One: After conquering all the Houses of Joustus, Cardia reveals to King Knight that she's been looking for the chosen "King of Cards" to save her home planet, and after defeating her in a game of Joustus, wants King Knight to be her planet's savior. King Knight refuses since he finds having to lord over more than one kingdom to be too much of a hassle, which enrages Cardia.
  • Prequel: Takes place before the events of Specter of Torment's main story, depicting King Knight's rise to power over Pridemoor and recruitment into the Order of No Quarter.
  • Puzzle Game: Croaker and Toader appear in three of the Houses of Joustus to request your help with solving puzzles. Early ones are fairly easy, but later puzzles require setting up Non Standard Game Overs for your opponent by forcing them to make moves that let you win or winning by holding one of three gems when the other two are unclaimed and no further moves can be made.
  • Revisiting the Roots: The greater emphasis on humor is more similar to the original campaign, Shovel of Hope, and also brings back the world map, something that Specter of Torment dropped in favor of a more straightforward hub area.
  • Rolling Attack: King Knight can cancel his shoulder-bash into a roll, letting him attack enemies without being forced into a spinning jump. Purchasing the Blast Roll upgrade lets him power up the roll by timing it correctly.
  • Significant Name Shift: Throughout the campaign, King Knight's mother constantly refers to him with several cutesy pet names as she supports his endeavors to gain a royal title of his own. At the end, however, as he accepts the Enchantress's offer and plunges the land into darkness, stealing King Pridemoor's castle as well, she refers to him by his proper name as she leaves him forever, hoping he'll be very happy with his ill-gotten gains.
  • Simple, yet Awesome: The Rat Bombardier. King Knight throws a bomb-carrying rat in a high arc, and it'll scamper forwards upon landing and blow up if it touches an enemy. The arc makes it amazing to hit enemies on high ledges or take out flying mooks. The explosion pierces shields, has the potential to deal two damage instead of one if the enemy stands still in the explosion to get hit twice, and has a fair radius size. Pressing the button again makes the rat hop and change directions, allowing missed shots to potentially hit again. The rat can be shoulder bashed, which flings the bomb towards enemies that might not be hittable without bashing the rat, and can help King Knight Sequence Break some rooms with the upward momentum or being able to enter the pirouette state without any other objects to shoulder bash. For an item that has a relatively low cost and can be obtained in the first area of the game, the Rat Bombadier has a surprising number of uses.
  • Sliding Scale of Gameplay and Story Integration: Specter Knight is not the boss of the Lich Yard in this game, since it takes place before he was assigned there by the Enchantress. Instead, the Lich Yard has a special stage where the Big Creep is fought, and clearing its levels causes Phantom Striker (the Lich Yard boss in Specter of Torment) to start wandering around the map.
  • Schmuck Bait: At the void crater in the third area, King Knight encounters Horzio, who offers an opportunity to give a quick end to the journey. Agree, and Horzio ends the quest... by grabbing King Knight and jumping into the abyss causing an instant death.
  • Spectacular Spinning: King Knight's pirouette after landing a successful shoulder bash allows him to Goomba Stomp enemies, and doing that lets him refresh his bash and keep long periods of airtime. An upgrade lets him attract money with his pirouette, and he can drill the Lost City's dirt piles with it.
  • The Stinger: The post-credits scene brings the game full circle right back to the Shovel of Hope campaign, showing the moment he arrives at Pridemoor Keep to defeat King Knight as the first foe on his journey to save the land from the order of No Quarter.
  • Take That!: The Cardia subplot is a shot at Yu-Gi-Oh! and similar To Be a Master stories, specifically the idea that being really good at a card game would make someone qualified to be a hero.
  • Unnecessary Combat Roll: King Knight can perform a dodge-roll by pressing a direction while he's holding out the Turn Coat. He can also turn his shoulder bash into a roll by pressing attack a second time while he's in middle of one: this allows him to bash through enemies and dirt blocks without bouncing off them and potentially damage enemies faster if they can't be bounced on. An upgrade adds a "Just Frame" Bonus feature to the roll where tapping the button right when a spark appears on his foot while he's shoulder bashing allows him to perform a spark roll that deals double the normal amount of damage to the enemy.
  • Video Game Dashing: King Knight's shoulder-bash works like this. He can dash left or right at any time, even while in midair, and bashing an enemy/wall/object sends him flying upwards in a spin. If he bounces on something while spinning, the bash is refreshed, letting him stay in the air for a lot time if there are enough things nearby to bash/bounce on. Additionally, the Battery Brigandine armor lets King Knight charge up the bash so he can aim it upwards or downwards.
  • Villain Protagonist: King Knight starts as an impoverished brute with dreams of having the title of "King" and is willing to beat up the judges of the world's favorite card game to get it. He ends the campaign betraying his friends and admirers that considered him a potential savior, all because the Enchantress offered him Pridemoor Keep in exchange for being her lapdog.
  • Wake-Up Call Boss: Black Knight for Joustus. He's the first opponent who has a special ability (similar to King Knight's cheats), has a much more varied deck, and forces the player to play more strategically due to the player likely having a basic deck.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: After King Knight defeats the Grand Triumvirate and then betrays his allies to work for the Enchantress, announcing his intentions to ban the Joustus card game and become king, along destroying the Glidewing, we see what happens after this.
    • House of Joustus — "An explosive fad ends"; as Plague Knight and Mona are at the helm of destroying the Houses of Joustus with as many cards inside.
    • Troupple Pond — "Submerged into hiding"; shows the Troupple Accolytes and Missionaries considering to work for the Enchantress, as the Troupple King (having fallen from the ambushed Glidewing) crashes into the farther west Troupple Pond we know from Shovel of Hope and hides underwater.
    • Armor Outpost — "Setting up shop"; has Mr. Hat's shop falling to (or him dragging it to, if King Knight never met him during the playthrough) where it's found in Shovel of Hope and Plague of Shadows.
    • Tower of Fate — Specter Knight — "The hunt continues"; has Specter Knight starting to embark on the journey of Specter of Torment, having already recruited Tinker Knight, Polar Knight, and Mole Knight.
    • Iron Whale — Treasure Knight — "Laying claim to the sea"; shows Treasure Knight battling and taming the Teethalon, setting it as the trap found in the other campaigns.
    • Hall of Champions — "Fencing in phantoms"; has the Big Creep, Invisishades and Duelist Di arriving to the hall, and getting sealed inside by Phantom Striker.
    • The Homestead — "Caring for the betrayed"; shows most of the Glidewing's crew taking refuge in King Knight's old home.
    • Birder Bluffs — "Accepting an invitation"; Polar Knight, Tinker Knight and Mole Knight comtemplate the Tower of Fate, thinking about having joined the Order of No Quarter, as Black Knight watches them.

    Shovel Knight Showdown Examples

All was not well at the Tower of Fate. A terrible truth had been revealed.
Specter Knight stormed off, filled with rage at The Enchantress. Their final battle was imminent!
The residents of the Tower gathered. They boldly decided to rebel and help their friend.
Hastily, they hatched a plan to modify the Magic Mirror. Perhaps they could trap The Enchantress inside!
With the preparations complete, their ramshackle contraption sprang to life.
But something went terribly wrong...
The final game included in Treasure Trove, a local multiplayer Platform Fighter battle mode. The game features 20 playable characters, including:
  • A Day in the Limelight: Every character has their own Story Mode, allowing characters who otherwise didn't have their own campaign in the game to get some character focus.
  • Anachronic Order: Story Mode seems to have some level of continuity, due to some of the characters explicitly referencing the routes of other characters, but the exact sequence of events can be difficult to discern due to the unlock order and having only two conversations per playthrough. Some of the endings, such as Baz's, seem to take place during or after Shovel of Hope and Specter of Torment, too, muddying things up a bit more. It seems to indicate that some of the characters might have been brought into the game's events from other time periods, though it is also possible that some endings simply occur after a Time Skip.
  • An Aesop: Propeller Knight's story ends with him learning that flying by the seat of your pants isn't always a good idea and it helps to have solid plans.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: Unlike in King of Cards, King Knight does not have the long unscrewing animation when he spin jumps onto a platter, keeping him from being unnecessarily vulnerable.
  • Bittersweet Ending:
    • Shovel Knight's story ends with him realizing that the Shield Knight he fought was the real one, which renews his hope that, somewhere out there, Shield Knight is still alive, and this leads to the events of Shovel of Hope.
    • Shield Knight's story ends with her still trapped in her own body, but she refuses to give up on wrestling back control, and is confident Shovel Knight will save her.
  • Broad Strokes: The Story Mode seems to have some sort of chronological order to it, and the endings generally neatly tie into the main story, such as the events helping Shovel Knight realize Shield Knight is still alive, and explaining the Enchantress's knowledge of Plague Knight's journey for the Ultimate Potion, so it can be inferred that most if not all the routes happened. But the person who ultimately defeated the Mirror of Fate is left ambiguous due to the story being otherwise fairly simplistic.
  • Composite Character
    • While Mona's moveset involving summoning potions is largely based upon her minigame, the effects of the two potions she can summon depending on how long the attack is charged are borrowed from Plague Knight, specifically the Cluster and Component powders. Her Bomb Burst also has similar properties to the Basic Burst, as Plague Knight uses the Spin Burst in Showdown, while her Cipher Slashes are reminiscent of the Staff of Striking.
    • The Goldarmor character, who is based off a generic enemy, but has moves borrowed from differently colored variants, such as being able to throw anchors like the purple variants in the Iron Whale, and being able to downward thrust like the green variants in the Explodatorium and the Tower of Fate.
    • The other character based off a generic enemy type, the Liquid Samurai, does the same thing, using weapons from all three variants of that enemy type.
  • Counter-Attack: Every character has a parry, mapped to the shoulder buttons by default. When used, your fighter briefly strikes a pose and flashes, and if anyone hits them while they're flashing, the parry takes effect and causes a shockwave in a circle around the user. All of them have different animations (such as Shovel Knight blowing away enemies with the War Horn, Mole Knight being surrounded by a burst of rocks, and Mona summoning an alchemical barrier), but the effect is the same.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: Characters whose playstyles primarily involve getting close to put pressure on their opponents, such as Polar Knight, are at a significant disadvantage in Targets due to having very few tools at their disposal that would allow them to hit targets at a distance or quickly make it to the targets in question.
  • Directionally Solid Platforms: They exist here and there in the campaigns, but Showdown introduces an interesting case of Selective Walls — in order to make sure Specter and King Knight's movesets aren't hampered by the lack of solid surfaces to Wall Run/Jump or Shoulder Bash off of respectively, the directionally solid platforms generally have 'lips' that those two characters' relevant movement options treat as walls from the proper direction, and otherwise don't interfere with anything at all.
  • Downer Ending: Quite a few story modes have this due to taking place right at the end of Specter of Torment.
    • King Knight's campaign ends with revealing that he keeps creating dinner parties for people to come to, but nobody ever comes to them. Instead of taking this as a sign that he made a mistake, he blames it on the mail carrier not doing his job and further buries himself in denial.
    • Specter Knight can't stop thinking about what Phantom Striker said to him, and wonders if he was right and there is no way to fix him. As Specter of Torment shows, he was right.
    • Phantom Striker laments at his past failures and resolves to find a stronger hero than he to test who can save the land.
    • Reize returns to the world, realizing that he is still trapped in Dark Reize.
    • Dark Reize is called to the Enchantress and teleports to her, presumably right before being turned into Nightmare Reize.
    • Goldarmor is woken up by another Goldarmor, and now believes his adventure and standing up to King Knight to be a dream. Even if he wanted to combat King Knight he knows he couldn't, as he is bound to the crown.
  • Enemy Without: Characters under Demonic Possession become separated from their possessor while inside the mirror, and in some story modes the host and possessor get to fight each other. This applies to Shield Knight and the Enchantress as well as Reize and Dark Reize.
  • Genre Shift: While the four campaigns are all different flavors of platforming, this game mode is more akin to a Super Smash Bros. style Platform Fighter.
  • Gone Horribly Right: The jury-rigged Mirror of Fate was designed to capture the Enchantress. As evidenced by her presence as a playable character, it worked, but not without pulling in 19 other mostly-unrelated people, including the person this act was meant to help, and sealing the Tower of Fate's inhabitants in mirrors.
  • Guide Dang It!: An achievement for Mr. Hat requires getting a KO with each of his three hats in a single match, but his move list only shows the military hat and fancy hat. The third hat is the crown he wears during his King of Cards battle, which he only uses during his parry.
  • Hidden Depths: A few character endings reveal these about the character:
    • Tinker Knight: Believed the Order was a force for good. He also converted lava to energy for Mole Knight.
    • Mole Knight: Made a deal with Treasure Knight about splitting up their territory.
    • Propeller Knight: Turns out he's bad at making plans. Tinker Knight taught him to think ahead.
    • King Knight: Attempted to host a dinner party. Nobody showed up.
    • Baz: Took a job to work off a debt to Mr. Hat. He admits he just wanted to be a part of something. He also admits sweeping is harder than it looks.
  • Interquel: The game takes place just before the end of Specter of Torment, with Specter Knight going off to fight the Enchantress.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: Loads of them for the other campaigns.
    • Shovel of Hope — The game doesn't really bother hiding the Enchantress is a possessed Shield Knight with Specter Knight's story referencing it in very little uncertain terms, and Shield Knight's story outright ends with Shield Knight realizing she's still trapped in her own body.
    • Plague of ShadowsMona's connection to Plague is established very early in his story, and his ending reveals he has feelings for her he can't admit.
    • Specter of TormentYou unlock Dark Reize before you ever come across the normal Reize. Also, the first thing you learn in the story mode, regardless of your chosen character, is that Specter Knight intends to fight back against the Enchantress.
    • Averted with King of Cards — as it and Showdown were released at the same time, the fact that King Knight ultimately betrayed all his allies and has no friends left is only alluded to.
  • Lethal Joke Character: Tinker Knight lacks his mecha for this campaign, but he's no less a bad character for it. The Mobile Gear gives him near unprecedented mobility, with it allowing for fast movement, a triple jump, and short flight, riding the Mobile Gear allows him to lob wrenches to apply pressure to opponents or Goomba Stomp them, and he can follow up a damaging totally intentional trip by throwing wrenches in every direction, making him excel at staying far away and being really difficult to approach if prepared.
  • Mirror Boss:
    • Dark Reize's story route has him fight Reize, natch.
    • One of the possible special fights just before facing your rival for the last time is a duel between your character and 2 discolored versions of them, implied to be made from the Mirror of Fate.
  • Multi-Mook Melee: One of the other potential penultimate fights is a gem match against multiple one-HP opponents.
  • Nerf: While most of the playable cast have most of their basic abilities and attacks from the main game, many of the former bosses are significantly weakened for the sake of balance. For example, the Enchantress cannot float the exact same way she does in the main game; she slowly hovers downward when the jump button is held.
  • Promoted to Playable: All of the Order of No Quarter who didn't get a campaign are fully playable in this game mode, along with Shield Knight, the Wandering Travelers, Mona, Dark Reize, the Liquid Samurais and a generic Goldarmor.
  • Ring Out: Some stages have Bottomless Pits as a hazard; Propeller Knight is reliant on them being present to get maximum use out of his special attack.
  • The Rival: Each character in the story mode finds someone who they actually interact with and have to fight (or rarely, team up with) before getting to the Mirror of Fate, making them as such.
    • Shovel Knight: Shield Knight.
    • Plague Knight: Mona.
    • Specter Knight: Phantom Striker.
    • King Knight: Specter Knight.
    • Shield Knight: The Enchantress.
    • Black Knight: Polar Knight.
    • Propeller Knight: Tinker Knight.
    • Mole Knight: Treasure Knight.
    • Treasure Knight: Propeller Knight.
    • Polar Knight: Shovel Knight.
    • Tinker Knight: Mole Knight.
    • The Enchantress: Black Knight.
    • Baz: Mr. Hat.
    • Reize: Baz.
    • Mr. Hat: Goldarmor.
    • Phantom Striker: Dark Reize.
    • Mona: Liquid Samurai.
    • Dark Reize: Reize.
    • Goldarmor: King Knight.
    • Liquid Samurai: Plague Knight.
  • Shoto Clone: Plague knight serves as this, having the Staff of Surging as his Shoryuken, his signature bombs as a Hadoken, and the Spin burst as the replacement for the Hurricane Kick.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: At least four routes involving members of the Order of No Quarter feature them engaging a fellow Order member due to an ideological difference (Tinker Knight getting frustrated with Propeller Knight having no clue how to leave their predicament) or they're actively conspiring to work against them (Mole Knight and Treasure Knight were both planning to steal the other's treasure that was accumulated; Treasure Knight just beat Mole Knight to the punch). Given that most of the Order's membership were forced to work under the Enchantress, it's little wonder that there would be infighting due to their clashing personalities or modus operandi.
  • Taunt Button: Holding down (as in Plague of Shadows and Specter of Torment) or up (as in King of Cards) will make your character do a taunt. Most characters have only two taunts, but Liquid Samurai and Mr. Hat can change form to access additional taunts.
  • What Did I Do Last Night?: For his story mode intro, Propeller Knight wakes up with no recollection of how he was brought to the mirror world. He assumes he must have had a wild time last night.

For Shovelry!


Video Example(s):


Phantom Striker

Phantom Striker, having seen the power of The Enchantress, realizes he must stop hunting the undead to find a warrior who can defeat her.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (5 votes)

Example of:

Main / ICantDoThisByMyself

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