Title: Shovel Knight Showdown
Platform: Nintendo Switch (reviewed) PC, PS4 and Xbox One
Developer: Yacht Club Games
Publisher: Yacht Club Games
Release date: Out now
tl;dr: Smash Bros Lite With Shovel Knight
Price: $10 / £8
Family Focus: Click here for more information.

The story of Shovel Knight Showdown takes places after Specter Knight went on to his final battle with the Enchantress in the Specter of Torment chapter. The Specter Knight’s allies, who, wanting to help the hero, modified the Magic Mirror previously utilized by the Specter. Unfortunately, something went wrong as the changes were rushed and incomplete causing unforeseen consequences.

Shovel Knight Showdown is a 2D platformer featuring a brief, albeit interesting story mode and a Smash Bros free-for-all multiplayer mode. The story mode is told like any fighter where you take on opponents in timed rounds, with various objectives, and once you beat an opponent, you move on to the next. Furthermore, you have lives; meaning if your health is depleted, you can comeback… until you run out.

What makes it interesting here compared to your typical fighters is that some battles have different objectives; the most common one being the fighter that collects a set amount of gems is declared the winner. It also sometimes pits you against 2 or more enemies at once. There are typical battles where the fighter who gets all his lives depleted loses. Depending on the difficulty (you can choose between Easy, Normal and Hard), your number of lives varies.

Once you’re done with the Story mode, you can have fun with your friends in the Multiplayer mode. With up to 3 friends, you can go head to head and may the best man win. It’s a bit reminiscent of Smash Bros mostly because how chaotic it can become with skill players (despite the game’s slipperily and stiff controls; more on that later). It’s also very easy to lose track of your characters, here or in Story mode.

Unfortunately, not all is perfect in the world of Shovel Knight. While the original Shovel Knight game featured solid controls, the one’s featured in Shovel Knight Showdown feel slippery and stiff at the same time. Slippery like back in the way when Mario would run on ice slippery. Often I’d just jump down from a platform, land,  and slide into a fiery pit. It also sometimes felt stiff to move your character; as if you have to press the direction pad through the joy con and It kinda broke the fun of it.

One of the game’s strongest aspects is definitely the content. There’s a bevvy of content to unlock in such a small package that it’s sure to keep players addicted for the foreseeable future. You can unlock stuff by finishing the game with certain characters or completing a set objective.

Shovel Knight Showdown still represents the wonderful classic old school look of the original game; in all its pixelated glory. Most levels are dark-ish, so don’t expect too many bright environments. The darker back-drops also make it a bit too easy to get lost in the shuffle of things and lose track of your character. Audio wise, still a decent soundtrack reminiscient of the game that started it all; a bit forgettable while you try to focus to taking down your opposition.

Despite its flaws, Shovel Knight Showdown is a fun and entertaining expansion to the Shovel Knight universe. A unique and varied story mode will keep solo players entertained for quite some time, while multiplayer players will have a blast beating each other up. If you can overlook the control issues, you’ll definitely have a blast.

The Good

  • Interesting story.
  • Entertaining Smash Bros clone.
  • Fun final boss of story mode.

The Bad

  • Slippery and stiff controls.

Family Focus

Shovel Knight Showdown is rated E for Everyone and PEGI7 however due to the battles in the game, it contains mild fantasy violence and use of alcohol for some reason.

This review is based on a review copy of the game provided by the developer