Shovel Knight Review (Wii U & Nintendo 3DS)

Shovel Knight Wii U Review 3DS

Shovel Knight: An absolutely stunning 2D platformer on the Nintendo eShop in which the originality is never-ending. If you’re looking for a retro-esque platformer, Shovel Knight is a gem that will keep you coming back for more. In this review, we’ll be highlighting the Wii U and 3DS versions of the game, but this review applies to the PC version as well.

Enter the realm of Shovel Knight…

Shovel Knight’s story begins like this:

“Long ago, the lands were untamed, and roamed by legendary adventurers! Of all heroes, none shone brighter than Shovel Knight and Shield Knight. But their travels together ended at the Tower of Fate; when a cursed amulet wrought a terrible magic. When Shovel Knight awoke, the tower was sealed, and Shield Knight was gone. His spirit broken, a grieving Shovel Knight went into a life of solitude. But without champions, the land was seized by a vile power: The Enchantress and her Order of No Quarter! Now, the tower is unsealed, and devastation looms. A new adventure is about to begin…”

Shovel Knight brings its gripping story to the table and makes you care about the main characters—well the good ones anyway. As you progress through the rage-enducing levels, the game’s good qualities shine even brighter whilst bringing heartening factors such as comedy into the mix.

Shovel Knight starts off with a bang! It throws you into the first level with no tutorial or understanding of the controls—adding to the retro-esque feeling and making it a more rewarding experience altogether.


While traversing across the world of Shovel Knight, you’ll notice that you have 2 basic moves. The Dig Slash and the Shovel Drop. Although this doesn’t seem like a wide array of moves at first, they can both be upgraded later on in the game to inflict more damage to your foes. Now that I think of it, combat is almost always satisfying in this game. No enemy is similar to another in any way, shape or form. Figuring out how to maneuver around your foe’s plethora of attack patterns is quite entertaining—even if they do take you tons of tries to figure out for the most challenging of enemies.

If you still aren’t satisfied with what you’ve heard about the combat in this game, fear not! For the fighters out there who prefer combat from a distance, the game features 12 magical items called relics that allow you to deal damage from further away.

Shovel Knight Dragon

The talk about relics brings up the subject of tactical gameplay. Some relics allow you to shoot flames out of your wand, or even summon giant knuckles (pound fest?) while others play a more defensive role, allowing you to block damage or even escape it altogether. My personal favorite weapon of destruction is the fishing rod. Casting the line upon the heads of your enemies can almost guarantee a 1-hit kill. Of course, the main purpose of the fishing rod is to gather goods such as money and buffs from water and endless pits of doom, but who wouldn’t want to use one as a weapon?

Character Customization:

Although it isn’t shown off in any of the trailers released by Yacht Club Games (tsk, tsk), character customization plays a big role in how you play the game. There are a total of 6 armor sets and 3 special moves available for purchase that can all be equipped according to your play style.

I really like the fact that Yacht Club Games added in this feature, because it honestly wasn’t even necessary, but it was a nice touch.

Gold! Treasures Chests! Diamonds!

Shovel Knight puts a large emphasis on collecting treasure and other goods within the game. Aside from the fact that it can be used to purchase in-game goodies such as health upgrades and magic-capacity upgrades, there’s an addictive quality about scavenging for it in every imaginable corner and hidden room.

One thing that you may find annoying is losing gold whenever you die. And trust me: with this game’s difficulty, you’ll die a lot. Don’t worry though—there’s an armor that halves the amount of money you lose when you die. (Yacht Club Games honestly thought of everything).

Shovel Knight Digging

Control Options:

Shovel Knight features a wide variety of control options so that any fan of retro games can feel comfortable when playing the game. These control options include:

  • Wii U GamePad
  • Wii U Pro Controller
  • Wii Remote
  • Wii Remote + Classic Controller Pro
  • Wii Remote + Nunchuck

I noticed that the controls were tight no matter what control scheme I used. For you younger readers out there softened by the New Super Mario Bros. series, that means you can’t blame the game’s controls if you die. All jokes aside, you’ll be able to enjoy yourself with every control scheme currently available for the Wii U.

Shovel Knight Mole Knight Boss

Other Notes:

I encountered a few glitches in some of the later bosses in the game. However, the developers say that they’re aware of these, and plan to patch them in the near future.

Miiverse Integration:

Shovel Knight integrates Miiverse functionality through something called the Miiverse Digger’s Diary. It’s an interesting concept! The developers describe it as a way for players worldwide to communicate about all things Shovel Knight. In each area you visit, messages left by other Shovel Knight players will appear on the GamePad. These can be really helpful when you’re stuck on a tough boss and/or puzzle. Unfortunately, this feature wasn’t available before the games’ release, but will be added to my review once the feature becomes available on June 26th.


Yacht Club Games has plans to bring free updates to Shovel Knight following the game’s release later today. Updates will include battle mode, challenge mode, gender swap, and playable bosses! Shovel Knight is more than worth the current price of $14.99 and will keep you entertained with tons of core content. I recommend it to fans of modern 2D platformers and of course the retro gamers out there as well. I did, however, encounter a few glitches in latter levels within the game, but that won’t be plaguing your experience with the title for much longer because patches are on the way! That’s why I give Shovel Knight a 9.5 out of 10.

Review Copy Provided by Yacht Club Games

Shovel Knight Review (Wii U & Nintendo 3DS)
Character Customization 8
  • Tight Controls
  • Fun Gameplay
  • Amazing Music
  • A few glitches later on in the game
9.5Overall Score
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