Publisher: Yacht Club Games
Release Date: Dec. 10, 2019
Price: $9.99, £7.99, €8,99
Game code provided by Popagenda
Game Size: 196MB

Shovel Knight Showdown is the first time Yacht Club Games has taken the Shovel Knight franchise outside of its action platform roots. It is a fighting game akin to Super Smash Bros, but does Showdown have what it takes to make it in the big leagues? Does the universe support a cast large enough to merit a fighting game roster? My name is Jason from SwitchWatch.co.uk, and here is my review of Shovel Knight Showdown. For Shovelry!

STORY

story mode

Normally, fighting games have corny stories that exist for the sake of giving the game and its characters substance. Thankfully, with Shovel Knight Showdown, a lot of the characters were developed through the story campaigns.

In Story Mode, each character is given their own unique story about how they ended up in this mirror dimension. As you fight your way through searching for answers, your character will run into a relevant opponent that will serve as the antagonist of the Showdown storyline.

Story Mode comes in three difficulties, the all-too-common Easy, Medium, and Hard. And difficulty does not change the story. That is great for players who just want to enjoy the experience, even if they are not great at fighting games.

It is not the deepest line of stories, but I applaud Yacht Club Games for putting so much effort into making Showdown feel like a huge game. They could have simply phoned Story Mode in, but they decided to flesh it out and make something entertaining.

GAMEPLAY

Shovel Knight Showdown is a great package. As part of the Shovel Knight universe, it compliments in so many ways and brings a special aura about it that is uniquely its own. As part of the fighting game genre, Showdown not only holds its own, but it excels in so many ways.

From the menu, we are presented with Battle, Story, Unlockables, and Options. One of the wonderful things about Showdown is that they decided to take the old Smash Bros approach of unlocking characters, stages, and character palettes (More colors for each playable character). I know many gamers are not a fan of this, but each time I unlocked a new character, it always created a since of wonder and excitement.

If you go to the Unlockables section in the menu, you can see the requirements for unlocking things. These Feats can be accomplished in both Story Mode and Battle Mode, and the Unlockables menu gives you the option to switch between those by simply pressing the minus button. I loved that I was able to unlock stuff by myself or playing in intense 4-player battles.

Speaking of battles…

BATTLE MODES

This is obviously the bread and butter of Shovel Knight Showdown. What can I say except that Yacht Club Games has done it again. Showdown is a fantastic fighting game that borrows well from its influences, but it is also original in so many ways.

There are three different game types in Battle Mode.

First, there is Treasure Clash, which is the staple game type and the one often used in Story Mode. In Treasure Clash, the goal is to collect a certain amount of gems, normally 5. However, being a fighting game, everyone will be battling for those gems. One gem spawns every so often, so frantically all players dash towards the gem while attacking each other. Collected gems can be lost if you are downed, so Treasure Clash requires a good amount of offense and defense to succeed.

Next is Showdown, which is your standard fighting mode. In Showdown, players are given a stock of lives, and it becomes a game of survival. It is incredibly entertaining, and moreso than Treasure Clash, Showdown really shows how well the fighting in this game is balanced.

Finally, we have Chester’s Choice, a randomized mode that just mixes the rules, hazards, and items. For parties, this is a lot of fun, but most of your time will be focused on Treasure Clash and Showdown.

BATTLING

Fighting in Shovel Knight Showdown is a wonderful experience. Each character is fun and unique, even if their controls are as simple as they get. Essentially you have a basic attack and a special attack. Most characters’ basic attack can be charged by holding it down, allowing for some powerful or even entertaining maneuvers.

While battling, the way the developers designed the game for balancing is giving players invincibility time after taking damage. This helps to prevent spamming moves, and if a player is spamming, they end up putting themselves in danger instead.

There is a surprisingly large cast of characters and a massive amount of stages to play on. Each stage is a brilliant representation of its main game area, with some having significantly harder hazards than others. Items are also an option that resembles similarities to those of the frantic Smash Bros items. Depending on how you like to play, these can be turned on or off.

Shovel Knight Showdown may never get the recognition it deserves as a fighting game, but rest assured, it deserves to be beside some of the best. It is fantastic.

AUDIO

Showdown borrows heavily from the previous games regarding its sound and soundtrack. What that means is the game sounds awesome!

The soundtrack to Showdown is of the highest quality. The chiptunes are a grand callback to the NES-era, and the Shovel Knight team has truly created some of the best chiptunes in recent memory.

I mean, the songs are composed by Jake Kaufman of Shantae fame and Manami Matsumae of Mega Man. How can the soundtrack be anything but amazing?

VISUALS & PERFORMANCE

The graphics for the entire Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove package is amazing. The brilliant pixel art during the cut scenes and screen shots really pop out. And the animation is so fluid. Because of this, it is one of the best looking NES games of the modern age.

Shovel Knight Showdown, all of its characters, and all of the stages are just littered with fantastic design and attention to detail. As a result, the level of graphics is considerably high, a bar set by the original Shovel Knight campaign.

There are no hiccups in gameplay as well. Showdown runs smoothly in every game mode, even if the screen is littered with characters fighting, hazards moving around, and items blasting off. The game runs like a dream and looks beautiful in the process.

VALUE

Shovel Knight Showdown is a complete package on its own. There is so much to do just to initially unlock everything that this process alone would be worth the asking price. However, since the game is loads of fun, both in solo and in multiplayer, Showdown can literally be picked in at any time to play and enjoy.

Although the experience is quite different from its siblings, Showdown brings a much needed mix up to the Shovel Knight recipe and executes it nearly to perfection. As we have seen with the Shovel Knight campaigns, Yacht Club Games just tends to get better each and every time. With Showdown, we clearly see what they are capable of in regards to a fighting game. This one is absolutely worth your time and money, but I am so excited for what is next.

 

  • Story - 7/10
    7/10
  • Gameplay - 9/10
    9/10
  • Audio - 10/10
    10/10
  • Visuals & Performance - 9/10
    9/10
  • Value - 9/10
    9/10

Summary

Shovel Knight Showdown is a wonderful entry to the Treasure Trove and a truly great fighting game. It offers that charm from the originals thanks to its beautiful pixel art and amazing soundtrack. If you are a fan of the series at all, this is a much needed addition to the Shovel Knight formula. A top-notch experience in both single and multiplayer means I must recommend this game.

Overall
8.8/10
8.8/10

Pros

Fantastic battle modes.
An amazing cast of playable fighters.
Beautifully laid out stages.
A fun story mode.
Awesome music.

Cons

Some cheesy stories.
Some unfair deaths from brutal stage hazards.