[Review] Shovel Knight: Showdown – Nintendo Switch

Written by Derek Wright
  • Developer: Yacht Club Games
  • Publisher: Yacht Club Games
  • Release Date: 10/12/2019
  • Price: $9.99 / £7.99
  • Review code provided by Yacht Club Games

Can You Dig It?

It’s hard to think about Kickstarter without thinking of Shovel Knight. This, once small game, was one of the biggest indie hits, all thanks to Kickstarter. It has been made playable on so many different consoles, including every Nintendo platform that was current. With that being said, the staff at Yacht Club Games are still delivering on their original promises from their 2013 Kickstarter pitch. Originally pitched as a 4-player multiplayer mode with characters from Shovel Knight has now grown into Shovel Knight Showdown, a full-fledged Smash Bros-esqe party fighting game. Does it stand on its own, or is this spin-off too shallow to dig into?

If you already own the Shovel Knight Treasure Trove bundle, then this game is included. If not, it can be purchased by itself. Shovel Knight Showdown is essentially a spin off title for the Shovel Knight series, featuring over 16 playable characters, tons of stages, and surprisingly, a decent single player story mode. Each character has a small story to tell with interesting NES style cutscenes, placed throughout their playthrough. Be warned, if you have not played through Shovel Knight, this game does feature spoilers. Also, if you haven’t played Shovel Knight yet, stop reading this and go play it, it’s great!

Strike the Earth, Again!

As I mentioned briefly above, SKS is a 4-player multiplayer battle game in the vein of Smash Bros. While the roster starts off with only 8 characters to being with, there are more than 16 characters available in total, once unlocked. Combat is pretty simple, with two attack buttons, a jump and a parry. While there aren’t many tools available in theory, every character plays very differently. I was shocked by how different every character was, and it’s easy to find one that fights your playstyle, Shield Knight is my jam.

There are two basic types of battles in Showdown, treasure battles and showdowns. Treasure battles require players to collect a certain number of gems to claim victory, whereas showdowns are straight forward fights. Since this is a party fighting game, saying straight forwards doesn’t mean it’s completely simple. There are items everywhere such as bombs, lasers, bombs, healing items, bombs and more bombs. While I jest, there are almost twenty different items to encounter in the game, but at times it can feel like bombs are everywhere.

The story mode contains quite a bit of meat, as it contains 9 stages, with bits of dialog to further your characters tale. Aside from standard fights, interesting variations can appear, such as fighting up to 7 other players at once, or everyone turns into a fairy. These options can be fun, but at the same time, they can be a pain on higher difficulty levels. The CPU on hard will not show any quarter. Also, in Smash Bros fashion, there is a target breaking mini game that can be quite fun and hectic. My favorite aspect of the single player campaign is the final boss. It is chaotic, wild and fulfilling upon beating it.

Shovel Knight Showdown also brings my personal favorite aspect of fighting games and places a huge emphasis on it, unlockables. These range from new characters, stages and character colors. There are a whopping 56 of them and all of them are tied to tasks such as beating the story mode with certain characters or defeating opponents in specific ways.

Fear not, Yacht Club made sure that this content was meant to be played and not locked away if you have no interest in exploring every nook and cranny of the single player mode. Every bit of content can be unlocked by playing the multiplayer aspect of the game. It will unlock items overtime based on your minutes spent in the main battle mode. I love this, as it is a wonderful way for players who want to beat the story mode to unlock everything, while players that want this as a multiplayer only experience, will also be able to unlock everything.

Another Round of Shovel Justice

If you have played any of the previous Shovel Knight campaigns, you know what to expect in terms of graphics. The pixel art is straight from the other games, and that’s fine! This game looks just as great as the other Shovel Knight episodes. The characters have great attention to detail and the backgrounds are still gorgeous. If you were not a fan of Shovel Knights faux 8-bit style, then there isn’t anything here that will change your mind.

Jake Kaufman’s wonderful tunes are back with some new additions as well. Overall, I loved every track I heard and unlocking more stages brought more new tracks to listen to, so I kept discovering new favorites. This will be a soundtrack I seek out once Treasure Trove is complete.

Well Oiled Digging Machine

I am pleased to say I never experienced even a hiccup with Shovel Knight Showdown. Playing it in both handheld and docked versions was a blast. While I prefer playing it docked to gaze at the animation and detail on the big screen, this game is perfect for handheld gaming. Playing it in handheld, I was able to keep up with all the chaos that was unfolding on screen, which is something I still have issues with in Smash Bros.

Final Thoughts

Shovel Knight Showdown is a game that keeps giving. From the game’s modest starting roster that gradually grows into a beefy offering, to the dozens of match variations, this is a perfect party game that started its life as an extra mode in the Shovel Knight series plan. As part of the excellent Treasure Trove bundle, this game may be looked over, but it shouldn’t. Even as a standalone title, there is enough meat in this game to take notice.

Pros

  • Unlock System
  • Easy to Pick Up and Play
  • Full Fledged Single Player Mode

Cons

  • Bombs bombs bombs

Verdict

Shovel Knight Showdown is a frantic and fun multiplayer action game with loads of content. This is a must play party title for Switch owners.

5/5

Read our review of Shovel Knight: King of Cards here.

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