Strike the earth in one of the most recent action platform fighters, Shovel Knight Showdown! The indie classic has seen multiple spin-off titles over the years, but this one takes a focus on having a brawl with friends. Fans of Shovel Knight will recognize moves and attacks from their respective games while duking it out to find the true champion of combat.
The story of Shovel Knight Showdown isn’t anything special. During the events of the prequel, Specter of Torment, the residents of the Tower of Fate modify a Magic Mirror to trap the Enchantress inside. This mirror shatters and brings the main characters together. While playing in story mode, each character encounters characters and rivals from the series in their own little story arc. Each route features 9 stages that test your skills in various game modes. The shallow story only acts as a way to have the characters fight, but it works enough story-wise.
In Shovel Knight Showdown, you fight against opponents in a variety of different modes. These modes differ from gathering a certain amount of gems to spawning a crazy amount of items to having the last man standing. Most modes can be played in multiplayer, however, there is no online at this time. After choosing your game mode, you can then choose your stage. A small icon shows the size of the stage, ranging from small to medium to large. Most stages include hazards and platforming challenges reminiscent of locations in the Shovel Knight Universe.
Even with varying stages and characters, the skill cap for the game isn’t high. It’s easy to pick up, but it’s not particularly hard to master. This makes Shovel Knight Showdown lose a ton of longevity. Since most characters have basic attacks and combos are non-existent, it won’t be long until you become skilled at the game. The chaos of free-for-all matches makes the experience enjoyable, but competitive players will get bored after a while. It’s definitely meant to be a party game, but there’s still fun to be had with this gem.
The controls of Shovel Knight Showdown feel tight and concise, like the original Shovel Knight. Every character has a regular attack and a special attack, used with the attack and special buttons respectively. Characters also have unique special moves they can pull off.
The only defensive option you can use is a non-damaging move called a Parry. This will blow back the opponent, allowing you to set up an attack or run away to get some distance between them. However, when you are hit, you are granted a brief period of invincibility that can be used to escape an attacker. In most situations, trying to parry and capitalize on an attack is less effective than simply dodging it. In any case, most people will be able to pick up Shovel Knight Showdown without too many problems. Thankfully, for players looking to learn moves for characters, there are often feats that encourage players to use these moves.
Shovel Knight Showdown has a variety of modes for people to play. Its multiplayer gameplay lets you choose between modes like Treasure Clash, where you fight to see who can gather a set amount of gems first; Showdown, a ‘last man standing’ mode; and Chester’s Choice, consisting of random selection teams, rules, and items that make it a new experience each time. You also have access to a series of battles known as Story mode, a practice mode, and Targets, where you have to break as many targets under a 30 second time limit.
Some stages are unlocked at the start of the game and by playing story mode and accomplishing Feats, which are challenges offered to the player, you can unlock extra stages, palette swaps, costumes, and characters to use.
There are over 20 different characters to choose from the Shovel Knight universe. Fan favorites such as King Knight and Specter Knight are included as well as regular enemies such as Goldarmor. The vast array of special moves allow for different play styles, with some characters getting up close while others like to keep their distance.
Shovel Knight features a chiptune soundtrack similar to 8-bit consoles of the NES era. Showdown features songs from all the Shovel Knight games, from the original Shovel Knight to the side stories like Specter of Torment and Plague of Shadows. The upbeat songs will get players excited to hop into a game and beat their friends.
Shovel Knight Showdown is a unique take on the platform fighter genre. It takes elements from other games and puts a Shovel Knight twist on it to make a game that’s special in every way. However, after your first few romps through the story mode, the game gets a bit repetitive and is reduced to a game you only decide to play with friends.
Shovel Knight Showdown receives a 7/10.