Title: Shovel Knight Showdown
Developer: Yacht Club Games
Publisher: Yacht Club Games
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Age Rating: PEGI 7
Release Date: 10/12/2019
Price: £7.99 – Rapid Reviews UK was very kindly provided with a review code for this title.
In 2014 a video game was launched that changed the game and wrote itself into the annals of history. Over half a decade later, the franchise is back in business with a second title (excluding the DLC).
Shovel Knight Showdown is a different sort of game to its predecessor, yet it brings with it the same charm and appeal. But how does it hold up? Will fans of the series want a title that veers so far from the previous course? Keep reading this rapid review to find out.
Now, I am going to admit something here that will probably shock and horrify a lot of people. I’ve never actually played the first Shovel Knight. Or rather, I’ve never owned it, and have only played a handful of minutes on someone else’s console. But, I’ve seen enough runs of the game to know what it is and understand what makes it so special.
From the moment you load up Shovel Knight Showdown, you will feel at home. The look and feel of the game and the fantastic chiptune soundtrack all pull you straight back into the world. Like putting on your favourite shirt or meeting up with a childhood friend, everything slides right back into place and it is as if you never experienced anything else in between.
Unlike the previous instalments in this series, Shovel Knight Showdown is not a 2D platformer, but rather a crazy, action-packed fighting game more similar to Smash Bros than anything else.
The game doesn’t complicate things any further than that and sticks to a simple game mode system. You have a handful of game modes, but all of them follow the same simple premise.
You have a story mode for each playable character, a battleground mode, a target practice mode, and a general practice mode.
Each playable character has its own story, which is actually nothing more than a series of versus battles played out under different conditions. I enjoyed the different game modes, as they each brought their own challenge. Although there were times when it was a little too easy to get distracted with the battle, and you forget the whole concept was just to collect diamonds. Not that this was a bad thing, just that you really needed to force yourself to pay attention.
The controls work to the same formula as Shovel Knight, with a dig slash, directional slash and Relic use. They are simple controls but effective. Each character carries its own move set too, and each is vastly different from the other.
What I really like about this was that it actually changed how you had to play the game. You couldn’t just push through with the same single strategy for each character. Especially in story mode, where the different fights you had to complete were a very different experience from one run through to the next.
Another nice touch that the game brought was the victory animations, with each combatant being on a pedestal, rising and falling based on whatever conditions were set for the fight. It’s simple but effective, and something other than just a winner screen with a short character animation.
One thing that I felt was missing from this game was an online multiplayer component. A game of this type really needs to be online. Local multiplayer just isn’t going to cut it in this day and age.
As you play the game there are different characters and battlegrounds that you can unlock and there is a nice list of achievements that you can get too, so for those that are achievement collectors, this game offers that extra level of challenge.
The achievements are split between Feats and Times. There are around 50 of each to unlock, which means there is massive potential for those that really want to get everything to sink a serious amount of time into this game.
That said, while I normally like hunting after achievements, during my playthrough, I found myself somewhat disinterested in these. Not for any great reason, it was just that it didn’t feel like a game that warranted or rather, accommodated these things. It was more a matter of grinding away than achieving anything.
By its very nature and design, the game is one that is driven by its high replayability. The story mode for each character, while requiring different strategies due to the different character move sets, follows a repetitive format. The core mechanic, the ‘showdown’ element is of course dominated by a replayability requirement.
The real question is, does the game do enough to really draw you in and make you want to keep playing?
While there is a lot of like in Shovel Knight Showdown, I was ultimately left feeling a little disappointed in the game. It’s not that there is anything wrong with the game itself, it is more than it feels like too many small components all put together. Like the Carnival mini-games title that pops up on all Nintendo systems.
The story mode is beatable in about 30 minutes and while you have different challenges and multiple characters, there is nothing tying them together.
I don’t know if it was just the wrong decision to try and created a shovel knight exclusive fighting game or not, but there was certainly something missing to make the game memorable. I happen to be also playing King of Cards for review on this site, and that is already a much better game. Keep your eyes peeled for that review soon.