One of the most widely-respected independent games is Shovel Knight. Released in 2014, Shovel Knight offered an NES-like experience, successfully capturing the feel of the 8-bit era. The game was instantly acclaimed, becoming a quintessential indie title. Shovel Knight has received expansions under the Treasure Trove umbrella. One of these expansions is Shovel Knight Showdown, a Super Smash Bros.-like platform fighting game. It’s a free update for those who own Treasure Trove, and available as a separate game for $9.99. Shovel Knight Showdown is a well-designed fighting title using the world of Shovel Knight to its fullest, although the lack of online play is unfortunate.
Shovel Knight Showdown makes great use of the Shovel Knight cast. Every character has different attacks. Shield Knight can throw her shield, making for a great projectile. Black Knight can dig and shoot projectiles upward. Meanwhile, Shovel Knight himself can only fire his projectile straight. The solid variety entices players to try out all the characters to find their best one. Fans will enjoy the careful touches to each character, such as Black Knight having his iconic laugh as a taunt.
The stage selection is also impressive. Shovel Knight fans will reminiscence while fighting alongside the iconic campfire. The auto-scrolling stages add a fun wrinkle to the gameplay, testing players’ platforming skills while also battling it out. Simply put, Shovel Knight Showdown makes fantastic use of the characters and visually appealing stages. Every stage is accompanied by quality music, evoking those 8-bit tunes of old.
A Great Arena Fighter
Battles in Shovel Knight Showdown require strategy and platforming skills. Fights are never dull thanks to the characters themselves, along with the welcoming gameplay format. Although fighting game fans may enjoy the Showdown mode the best, Treasure Clash adds a layer of intensity. Every time a character dies, they drop a held gem, ripe for the picking. Thus, players have to strategize when to go for gems that appear or go after players. Four-player battles become incredibly frenetic, but a fun time for a group of friends.
If players want variety in every match, there’s also Chester’s Choice, which mixes and matches items for a different battle each time. One example is a Showdown mode where insects fall from the sky, damaging whoever touches them. This is the kind of game where you will want to have friends over for some quality strategy and good laughs.
Plenty Of Unlockables
Instead of giving players access to everything, Shovel Knight Showdown requires unlocking characters and different stages. This can be done through battle mode and story mode. A handy unlockables menu lists the conditions, such as, “Finish story mode with Tinker Knight.“ There are plenty of unlockables to acquire, including characters, stages, and palette sets, ensuring dedicated fans will be playing for a while.
As a nice touch, Shovel Knight Showdown features a story with a few dialogue-box cutscenes. Although pretty much just an arcade mode at the end of the day, having a simple narrative makes playing through the mode with each character more enjoyable. A good feature is the ability to play co-op in story mode. In addition to story, there’s also a practice mode and Targets. Targets is an addicting hi-score mode where players break as many targets as they can within the time limit.
No Online Play Is A Disappointment
Shovel Knight Showdown does not feature any kind of online play. This is a massive disappointment. A fighting game released today needs online play because that’s how a lot of fans enjoy the content. If one doesn’t have siblings or friends in the area, they’re probably stuck playing alone. Although the story mode offers difficulty even on normal, it’s never the same as battling a real person. An online mode with leaderboards would have been great for the many who play competitively. It’s hard to test one’s shovel skills with nothing to compare them to.
A Great Game For Shovel Knight Fans
Shovel Knight Showdown is an enjoyable fighting title for fans of the original game. Battles require strategy in knowing what each character can do. The story mode offers a challenge, and there are plenty of unlockables to achieve. All in all, it’s a great title from the platformer fighting genre pioneered by the Super Smash Bros. series. The only major downside is the lack of online play. There could have been a lot of fun comparing how one uses their shovel or shield around the world. Because of that, Shovel Knight Showdown will probably only be enjoyed by core fans of the original game. However, as a free update to Treasure Trove, players get a very fun title featuring the cast in a battle format.
A Switch code for Shovel Knight Showdown was provided to TheGamer for this review. Shovel Knight Showdown is available for Nintendo Switch, PC, and soon for PlayStation 4. It is also available as a free update for Treasure Trove for Nintendo Switch, Wii U, PS4, Xbox One, PC, and PlayStation 3.
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