The 8-bit adventures of Shovel Knight continue to delight indie and retro game fans alike. Since his first appearance in 2014, the titular digger has gone on to inspire a number of additional expansions. Now the entire collection is available in one place with Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove on Nintendo Switch.
Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove Details
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Reviewed on: Nintendo Switch
Developer: Yacht Club Games
Publisher: Yacht Club Games
Genre: Action, platform
Modes: Single player, multiplayer
ESRB Rating: E (Everyone)
Something old and something new
As a collection, Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove begins by featuring the three prior Shovel Knight campaigns. Of course firstly we have Yacht Club Games’ original Shovel Knight adventure, initially gracing consoles in 2014. This campaign now goes by the retronym “Shovel of Hope”. I can’t help but sense at least a small nod to a little film also known for adding a “hopeful” subtitle!
The two additional prior releases bulking up Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove are the “Plague of Shadows” and “Specter of Torment” campaigns. These further adventures in the Shovel Knight universe originally released in 2015 and 2017 respectively. Each supplemental narrative quest features a new protagonist with a unique and different set of moves and powers.
Plague of Shadows is a separate tale where players take control of a new protagonist. Plague Knight prefers bombs to shovels, and has a wide array of incendiary attacks and abilities. He also traverses the landscape differently, trading for a shorter jump but with a double jump ability.
Finally, Specter of Torment takes on the role of prequel in the Shovel Knight franchise. Set prior to the events of Shovel of Hope and Plague of Shadows, this chapter stars another new protagonist in the form of Specter Knight. Specter Knight is a slashing and dashing undead hero who fuels his special abilities with “Darkness” which he harvests upon defeating foes.
A new adventure is in the cards
Coinciding with the physical release of Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove on Nintendo Switch are a few more content add-ons as well. The first is “King of Cards”, another brand new campaign, and the fourth in the collection. Since King of Cards releases on the same day as the physical version, there’s no need for additional downloading.
I have to admit that I came into King of Cards blind. As such, I was judging (and hoping) by the name that King of Cards was a spin-off card game set in the world of Shovel Knight. It turns out that it is—sort of.
King of Cards is first and foremost a new side-scrolling platforming campaign in the same manner as the prior three. Another prequel to Shovel of Hope, this time the main character is King Knight, an aspiring card game player with lofty ambitions of regal notoriety.
King Knight relies heavily on dash and spin style attacks that allow him to bounce off enemies. This adds a new level of depth to gameplay as combat plays more heavily into the platforming elements themselves. Often successful attacks must also parlay into providing the path forward. It definitely gives King of Cards on of the more unique perspectives on platforming style among all the further campaigns.
The card game within the game
Of course there is ultimately a card game element that ties into the King of Cards Campaign. The story revolves around King Knight participating in a traditional collectible card game known as “Joustus”. Taking down the bosses along the way involves actually defeating them at Joustus, winning the grand tournament and truly earning the title of “King”.
Joustus is fun for what it is, but really it’s just a small element that wedges itself into the story. As more of a card game fan rather than a platforming enthusiast, I must admit a very small amount of disappointment. My excitement at the prospect of a deeper card game set in Shovel Knight‘s interesting world will have to scale back a bit.
Of course this isn’t likely to be a deterrent for most. King of Cards is another exciting platforming adventure—and this is what Yacht Club games is known for. Here they are delivering core fans more of what they want and expect—fantastic retro platforming gameplay. I’m undoubtedly an outlier in preferring a less traditional Shovel Knight experience in lieu of a deeper foray into another genre!
Welcome to the showdown
Finally, the last remaining piece of the Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove pie is another brand new addition. This one breaks out much more as a unique experience however. “Shovel Knight Showdown” is a battle mode spin-off featuring characters from across the series.
There is a single player story option for Showdown for those that wish to play solo. However, this mode really shines as a four player (local only) party game. It has the madcap feel of similar battle style mash-ups such as Super Smash Bros. or other similar titles.
Showdown has a variety of different game modes within, and all are equally entertaining with a group of family and friends. The traditional Showdown mode is a simple beat-em-up style clash to see who can be the last one standing. Gem Clash on the other hand has players scrambling to be the first to collect the requisite amount of gems for victory.
I’ve always appreciated the retro platforming appeal of Shovel Knight and its additional campaigns. However, I have to say that Showdown may be some of the most fun I have ever had with the franchise. As such, it’s certainly a welcome addition to the Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove collection.
Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove is a robust collection of amazing content for Nintendo Switch
If you haven’t already had the pleasure of experiencing any of the Shovel Knight franchise, then Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove is absolutely a must-play for Switch owners. The stellar throwback 8-bit gameplay combined with new innovation and sharp humour makes it the pinnacle of indie gaming.
Shovel Knight Showdown also shines as the new battle mode spin-off for the franchise. It’s one of two new additions that the Treasure Trove collection includes on on Nintendo Switch. I may be in the minority in my wish that the other—King of Cards—put more of a focus on the actual card game itself. Still, it’s a solid platformer and more of what fans are sure to love.
+ Huge collection of the impeccable Shovel Knight series
+ King of Cards offers more fantastic platforming action and new variety
+ Showdown is an awesome battle mode addition
– The actual card game element of King of Cards is put on the backburner, it’s still very much a platforming-focused experience
OVERALL ASSESSMENT OF SHOVEL KNIGHT: TREASURE TROVE
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 4.5/5