We're starting to see a groundswell of indie games headed for Nintendo's two eShops, but very few have been getting quite as much attention as Shovel Knight from Yacht Club Games. Looking at the vibrant 8-bit visuals and hearing the team's influences and ideas, you can see why.
This is Yacht Club's first game as a developer, but the team's previous work at WayForward - a company we trust more than most to pull off modernised retro experiences - means we're pretty confident the final product will satisfy those of us who enjoy an eShop experience. Not least because it's coming to Wii U and 3DS.
Harking back to the 8 bit age, Shovel Knight's an action-platformer the elders among you will be very familiar with, but with a distinct twist: you use that shovel to do everything. Fighting, defending, puzzling - your solutions will come through a mixture of quick reflexes and a complex knowledge of garden tools.
We talked to Captain of the Yacht Club, Sean Velasco about the game's Kickstarter campaign (which is still running, as it happens), their choice to work with Nintendo from the start and just how much a shovel can do.
You reached your funding goal with almost two weeks to go on the campaign. Congratulations! What does that extra time mean for the project?
Sean Velasco: We just added Stretch Goals, and we have been surprised and elated by how fast we are burning through them! So far we have unlocked a music player, global achievements, New Game Plus, a playable boss knight, and Linux and Mac versions! We are still working on other fun stuff like gender-swap mode (play as a female Shovel Knight against an evil Enchanter!) and at 200k, we can do a 4-player battle mode! These goals seemed so far away, but we've had a groundswell of support. We're all crossing our fingers.
You've clearly got a retro aesthetic for the game, but you also talk about adding modern touches. Is that simply in the visuals, or can we expect it to play like a contemporary game too?
Sean Velasco: We're trying to make Shovel Knight a next-gen 8-bit game. The visuals, audio, and gameplay philosophy are 8-bit inspired, but beneath those pixels lies a bleeding edge heart. The game's moment-to-moment action is like a smoother version of a classic game, and we're injecting two decades worth of design know-how. Shovel Knight should feel the wonderful way you remember classic games feeling, not how they actually felt! We're also hoping that our focus on quality over gimmicks will also help younger players into the fold; people who may have not seen the days of the NES.
We've already seen how versatile that eponymous shovel can be in trailers. How many ways can it be used in total?
Sean Velasco: We haven't finished yet, so we can't say for sure! However, the ShovelBlade is quite versatile. You can dig, slash, flip, bounce, reflect, parry, and more! We hope to come up with many other uses during development. Maybe Shovel Knight could use the Shovel as a boomerang, or even a snowboard!