Shovel Knight Showdown

Shovel Knight Showdown

You’d think after three and a half great games, I’d stop being surprised by the quality of the aptly-named Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove. But even Shovel Knight Showdown, the title that seemed like just a silly little bonus game, has turned out to be a full-fledged platform fighter with depth to spare. Note that I use the term “platform fighter” rather than “Super Smash Bros. clone” intentionally, because Showdown does more than enough to differentiate itself from the genre’s progenitor. KOs aren’t scored with ring-outs, there are modes that turn everyone into fairies or make them exclusively vulnerable to certain items, and there are characters that can stick to ceilings, ride machines, or burrow through the ground. That last part is the most important aspect; these are iconic characters that are simply fun to play as.

I must qualify that the talents of Yacht Club Games clearly lie with platformers and not fighters, so this is still the worst game in the collection aside from Plague of Shadows. Characters with poor aerial mobility or attack range are all but impossible to play effectively – even in single-player, thanks to a difficult and mandatory “break the targets” minigame. Additionally, the bot AI, while competent in a straight fight, has a massive blind spot for stage hazards and projectile spam. Finally, the game is simply asking too much of NES aesthetics. This subgenre is already notoriously dense, so trying to convey it with only 8 bits makes the product messy and cacophonous. It’s still thematically appropriate, of course, as the entire endeavour could be described as “endearingly scrappy.”

6.5/10
6.5/10

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