"There wasn’t any update last night" I say as I take a drag off my pipe and lean back into the rocking chair on my porch. "Too important of an event not to update." I stare out into the vastness of the internet, watching the storm slowly crawl in, barely visible in the distance.
"Flash is a-comin’."
Shovel Knight is really freaking great. Let’s just get that out there at the start, because that really is the bottom line.
It’s one of those great Kickstarter success stories, proving that with enough creativity, effort, and goodwill, you can produce something great. Many people and critics have noted how it captures that era of classic NES games that many older gamers hold so dear, both in gameplay and aesthetic. The game uses a number of things to achieve this effect and actually make the experience enjoyable, if a bit enjoyably frustrating.
The first, and most apparent, aspect of the experience is of course the art design. The game is made to look like it was made with the NES color palate, with just a few added colors. The look of the game is based on many such 8-bit and 16-bit games, reminiscent of Link to the Past and Super Mario Bros. 3. Even the eponymous Shovel Knight and his many colored armors are designed to be both cartoon-y, and taking a hint from a slightly more recent game, to be fully inhabitable by the player like Master Chief from Halo, with no discernible face. Brilliant, really. Each stage is distinguishable in themes and in color palettes. While everything is very pixel-y, and purposefully so, that does not mean that the art isn’t also vibrant and detailed, and even evocative.
If the art wasn’t enough to make you think you were playing on an NES back in the day, then the music certainly is. Just check out the bandcamp page. Some of these tracks are even by Manami Matsumae who composed the music for the original Mega Man, one of the most influential soundtracks in modern video game/chiptune music. It is actually possible to obtain the files for the music in such a form that old hardware such as the NES can even play them. The soundtrack is reminiscent of old Legend of Zelda and Megaman, like a constant theme of adventure and action. And like those songs of the past, these tunes have the key element that defined the music that was so limited by technology: a kickass melody that can and will get stuck in your head for as long as is necessary.
But if art and music were all it took, this would still be one awesome cartoon. But seeing as this is a video game, it would be a mistake to not talk about the gameplay. And let me tell you, the one adjective that kept running through my mind as I played and thought about the design was: tight. This game has some super tight design. They know exactly what your jumps will be, they know how you ricochet, they know how enemies move and how they react to getting hit. The levels in this game are truly “platforming puzzles”. It can take a few tries to figure out how to solve each screen, but that is the ingenious of the dying mechanic. Instead of lives, each time you die you simply lose some gold, which then float on the screen where you died. This simultaneously makes dying a bit easier to stomach and in doing so incentivizes trying the same thing again to get your money back. Sometimes this doesn’t work out and your money will float just out of physically possible reach over an endless pit or something. I feel like perhaps something like slots for the money to gravitate towards might help to alleviate some of the more impossible and frustrating death scenarios. And as creative as some of the level mechanics can be in this game, it is true that bottomless pits are extremely common, even frustratingly so. With that said, I was able to complete the game without feeling particularly disheartened. I had to put it down at one or two points just to come at it with fresh perspective, but unlike many games that I put down due to frustration and never finish, this one always drew me back.
This may seem like all there is to the game, with wonderful art, music, and gameplay. But it also withholds a surprisingly touching story that would give one what in common parlance is known as “a case of the feels”. I obviously won’t spoil anything, but I think it’s worth noting that Shovel Knight’s quest to find his lost partner Shield Knight is one not to be missed.
I have already recommended this game to quite a few friends, and I would recommend it to you. Whether you are a beginner at platformers or a veteran of every Mario and Megaman type game you can find, this game has plenty to offer. As a first outing by Yacht Club games, this certainly passes the one test that counts: fun. I hope their next title is just as enjoyable!
Link, Isabelle, and more coming to Mario Kart 8 ⊟
What. Not sure if this reveal was accidental, but Nintendo UK’s official site posted listings for two upcoming downloadable content packs for Mario Kart 8.
The Zelda pack, coming this November, includes:
- 3 Characters: Tanooki Mario, Cat Peach, Link
- 4 Vehicles (is that a Blue Falcon from F-Zero?)
- 8 Courses
The Animal Crossing pack isn’t due until May 2015:
- 3 Characters: Villager, Isabelle, Dry Bowser
- 4 Vehicles
- 8 Courses
Each pack is priced at £7.00 or the UK, or around $11.60. The listings note, “As a bonus for purchasing both packs - as a bundle or separately - you can get eight different-coloured Yoshis and eight different-coloured Shy Guys that can be used right away.”
OH BITCH DON’T EVEN WE’LL SEE WHOSE SHIT GETS WRECKED
OH BITCH DON’T EVEN WE’LL SEE WHOSE SHIT GETS WRECKED
Spent all evening organizing ALL of my magic cards. They now take up about 3/4ths of our dining room table.
Tomorrow: ACTUALLY MAKE DECKS AND MAKE OLD DECKS GOOD
Maybe even a commander deck??? We shall see if that is in the cards for me.
My mother once told me that trauma is like Lord of the Rings. You go through this crazy, life-altering thing that almost kills you (like say having to drop the one ring into Mount Doom), and that thing by definition cannot possibly be understood by someone who hasn’t gone through it. They can sympathize sure, but they’ll never really know, and more than likely they’ll expect you to move on from the thing fairly quickly. And they can’t be blamed, people are just like that, but that’s not how it works.
Some lucky people are like Sam. They can go straight home, get married, have a whole bunch of curly headed Hobbit babies and pick up their gardening right where they left off, content to forget the whole thing and live out their days in peace. Lots of people however, are like Frodo, and they don’t come home the same person they were when they left, and everything is more horrible and more hard then it ever was before. The old wounds sting and the ghost of the weight of the one ring still weighs heavy on their minds, and they don’t fit in at home anymore, so they get on boats go sailing away to the Undying West to look for the sort of peace that can only come from within. Frodos can’t cope, and most of us are Frodos when we start out.
But if we move past the urge to hide or lash out, my mother always told me, we can become Pippin and Merry. They never ignored what had happened to them, but they were malleable and receptive to change. They became civic leaders and great storytellers; they we able to turn all that fear and anger and grief into narratives that others could delight in and learn from, and they used the skills they had learned in battle to protect their homeland. They were fortified by what had happened to them, they wore it like armor and used it to their advantage.
It is our trauma that turns us into guardians, my mother told me, it is suffering that strengthens our skin and softens our hearts, and if we learn to live with the ghosts of what had been done to us, we just may be able to save others from the same fate.
|—||S.T.Gibson (via modernhepburn)|
Allow me to get real here for a sec:
The main reason I don’t want to take a shower today is because that will mean I am obliged to put on a new shirt, but the shirt I have on now is the most comfortable shirt I have bought in like 5 years.