Saturday, December 9, 2017

Shovel Knight, Pt 3 - Finale

And now, the exciting conclusion. This is going to be a test to see how many NES game references I can make in one post, so be warned.

In the field from the intro of Ninja Gaiden, our hero faces... Ultra Shredder.

It was a good battle, on par with the final battle of Return of the King.

Next up is the Castlevania-inspired gear-fest known as Tinker Knight's level. They probably couldn't call him Clockwork Knight without getting sued by Sony.

"Mobile Gear?" says our hero gruffly.

The Mobile Gear is super-important here, and allows you to ride on various obstacles.

Tinker Knight is a gnome. Yeah, of course the tinkerer is a gnome. Just like in Everquest World of Warcraft.

"Fear me!" he says while scuttling about.

Of course, this isn't the real fight...

...THIS is. It's like what would happen if Thrall mated with a Hunter-Killer Tank. Luckily it isn't as bad as it looks, because Shovel Knight can pogo off of its head many times over once he gets up there. You can kinda see him off-screen here.

Next, we tackle the sky-themed level of Propeller Knight, which immediately takes me back to the Gyro Man and Wind Man type bosses of Mega Man classic.

The miniboss here is the airship from Super Mario Bros 3. Ya know, everything in Shovel Knight reminds me of something from an NES game.

Man, there are some great vistas in this level. Just watch out for the flying electric jellyfish (words to live by).

Propeller a fabulous fighting Frenchman.

It doesn't help that the airship in the background is pummeling you with cannonballs. Using an airship during a duel is cheating, and he should take it back.

The life and magic meters are pretty sizable now, thanks to all the food stamps our hero has been turning in. Eat while you can, Shovel Knight, before the GOP finds out.

This is it, time for the final areas of the game. The Enchantress' fortress is divided into three stages, and they're all tough.

Wait a minute, what's going on with the sky here? Is that acid rain? Are we on Venus?

Climbing the ladder so I can hop across platforms. This is so Mega Mannish.

At one point the foreground lights go out, and it makes for a rad silhouette effect. I've only seen one other game do this:

Donkey Kong Country Returns, and it was awesome there too. Both of these games are fine examples of taking the retro and making it modern.

Later parts of the level are full of precarious platforms, which - for some reason - is more difficult when things are silhouetted.

The first boss returns here in the Vile position. I thought we were friends, Black Knight! I thought we were friends!

Black Knight sprouts wings and gains some new abilities (ala Bass/Treble), making this much tougher than the initial noob fight against him.
At this point I have some sidequest business to deal with. Off of the main quest path, there's a ghost boss, and defeating him gets you access to...

...this temple, where you have an even more difficult fight with...

...Kratos? That's right, Kratos. The dude from God of War. Here he is, in 8-bit glory.

You can tell that this fight is going to be serious business when he powers up by being struck by lightning

All things considered, though, the fight isn't too bad. I was expecting an optional uberboss level fight here, but it's only slightly above-average in difficulty.

Defeating Kratos nets you the Armor of Chaos, which has a smorgasbord of new abilities.

Now I've got a combo attack, and Shovel Knight attacks with Kratos' flaming sword. Unfortunately there are detriments to this form, like less control and loss of some abilities, so I switched back to the regular armor before too long.

Time for the next fortress level, which has some cool stained-glass windows. At least, I think that's what they are.

At the end of the level, all of the Order of No Quarter knights reappear. Uh oh... can anyone say "capsule room"?

Polar Knight defeated...again! If this guy were a Robot Master, his former job would have been shoveling driveways. He'd also have been out of work until

Tinker Knight...smashed!

A beautiful night...for a curse?

The fight with the Enchantress is easily the most difficult fight in the game, and she has multiple forms. The floor looks breakable because it is, which adds a new layer to everything you have to watch out for.

Shield Knight is saved. But wait! The Enchantress isn't done yet.

The final battle has Shovel Knight and Shield Knight working together to succeed. This is an interesting fight because you need to watch where Shield Knight is and let her block the Enchantress' attacks for you.

You also need to leap off of her shield in order to attack the Enchantress. It's vaguely similar to the final battle of Mega Man X.

Shield Knight apparently sacrifices herself to stop the Enchantress at the end, while Black Knight (who is now good again...he switches alignments more than Big Show) saves Shovel Knight from the crumbling fortress.

We get a sweet credits sequence where you see every level restored to some semblance of normalcy. Most importantly, King Knight is off the throne and someone decent has retaken it. I'll see King Knight in the upcoming DLC where you play as him. Looking forward to that.

Back to the Chrono Trigger campfire, where Black Knight drops off a tired and weary Shovel Knight. The game is actually a little bit ambiguous here about whether or not Shovel Knight is still alive. He must be, though, because Black Knight acts like he saved Shovel Knight from the fortress. If our hero were no more, I think Black Knight would have let us know.

Here are my final stats. Yep, this game isn't easy. It isn't that difficult either though. Just a lot of trying until you get good. Notice how my lowest time is on the Explodatorium, no doubt spurred onward by the rad music.

After the credits, we return to the bonfire and Shield Knight appears to lay next to Shovel Knight. Turns out Shield Knight is alive after all, but she's clearly wounded. Shovel Knight still isn't moving. There's definitely ambiguity here as to whether or not they're both going to die here, but again, I don't think that's the case. I think this is supposed to be a touching moment and not much else. Like, he'll wake up later and she'll be there and they'll live happily ever after. ...except they're both wounded, and should probably be getting to a doctor. Well, the player can interpret this ending, and it's a fine ending any way you look at it.

Great freakin' game.


  1. Super Mecha Death Christ!

    Glad a Xenogears reference slipped in amongst all of the NES.

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