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The prologue to the adventure tells the story of Shovel Knight and Shield Knight , who were the most successful heroes of the kingdom; until during one of them voyages in the Tower of Doom , Shield Knight is enclosed along with the whole place thanks to the magic of an enchanted amulet.Later, taking advantage of the absence of the heroes, The Enchantress, and a group of warriors, begins to spread evil throughout the kingdom, and once again the Tower of Destiny is open, starting a new adventure.

Although the environment addressed in this story has been exploited in several modern titles, details, species, colors and other elements included make this medieval-fantastic special, something fresh and comfortable atmosphere. For example, some effects applied in lyrics dialogues (as do vibrate) expressively emphasize the personality of an individual; or the continuous movement of the villagers in a village (element taken directly from The Legend of Zelda II: The Adventure of Link ) make visits to these communities a very warm and organic experience.

The regions that make up this fantastic environment are represented in a picturesque and animated map that is spreading as we complete levels , there are also small bonus stages that appear occasionally at random in any region of the map (a la Super Mario Bros 3 ) . Each level available in this plane corresponds to a region of the same, so it will never repeat two scenarios with the same theme, design or music, adding a broad sense of comfort through our hours of gameplay.

Besides being full of secrets and hidden treasures, many of the levels have alternate routes, to add a juicy replay value to the list of attributes that hosts this game.

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As its name suggests, Shovel Knight accounts with a shovel as the main weapon, which is very useful for digging (literally) secret levels, shoveling elements forth from the screen and effectively attack the enemy . Accompanied by this weapon, our protagonist has a number of secondary skills that we can buy at certain points on the map, to be used later against enemies to invest some magic points (such as in the series Castlevania ). Controlling your character fits in a comfortable manner with their environment (even with the analog stick 3DS), since at no time becomes extremely difficult to overcome a level somewhere in terms of processor architecture.

An interesting element is that we have infinite lives, which is common in games using RPG elements, however, how criminalizing the deaths is grabbing the precious gold (needed to evolve in the game), but giving us the opportunity to if we recover at the same point where we lost. For this and other elements, the difficulty of the game is not as high or unfair . Personally I think this is a very wise decision, because it makes Shovel Knight a relatively digestible game in a modern community of users with easy access to an extensive library of titles that are updated daily. It’s a shame that although the game perfectly emulates the NES era, where the environment was only possible to get a new game to finish the above will be saved in the past.

The music is by the talented composer Jake “Virt” Kaufman, who has enough experience in the design and development of video game music, especially when it comes to representing past generations.Pieces that we hear throughout the game are the musical style of Capcom and Konami at the time, so it could well have been part of the official soundtrack of Megaman II or Castlevania III . I personally admire the way Virt develops percussion of his songs (especially the channel noise), and thanks to the amount of notes and diversity among them, each of us is so familiar melodies that even hours after we have turned off our console we will be hearing the tune in your head.

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Now in addition to talking about the easily noticeable aspect of the graphics and sound, I prefer to give priority to the hidden brilliance of technical section on development, where we can appreciate the true art of sticking as closely as possible to the design of video games for Nintendo Entertainment System including its limitations, so the next time we play this title, we can assess more deeply each of its elements.

Its developer, David D’Angelo , explains part of the Shovel Knight to ” fit a NES aesthetics and maintain modern design philosophies ” , referring to several points (mainly limits) that reflect the characteristic style of the games published at the end of the eighties, and how they adapted to create this nostalgic product.

The main idea behind this concept is to imagine what a video game would look like if production continued on the NES and could apply knowledge of modern design. Although some improvements exist within the same architecture of the cartridges (for example the diagonal scrolling , larger sprites or more audio channels), hardware limits were-and still are-the most important problem in the development, and only by understanding these abstract at a technical level walls can design a game that looks and feel of that era.

These are some limitations of the NES that D’Angelo explains that adapted to modern design, in order to obtain a game that feels fresh and authentically retro :

• All scenarios include an effect parallax (2D backgrounds moving at different speeds to give a 3D effect), appreciated more easily thanks to the stereoscopic effect of the 3DS.
• The number of colors per sprite is limited.
• The number of concurrent elements screen is relatively restricted.
• The HUD interface (where life, hearts, time, etc. shown) is in the background to allow sprites main pass over him.
• a black (or dark) background is shown when they appear sprites giant size (eg some bosses at the end of each level ).
• All songs in the game are designed (but not necessarily implemented) to fit into a NES cartridge.
• They used a resolution when viewed in 1080p with aspect ratio 16:9 provided to appreciate the native resolution of a NES instead of stretch.

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Shovel Knight meets the attributes that make a great game: it’s fun, simple, comprehensive, flexible, aesthetic, comfortable and transcendent. It is always difficult to find a comparison value from an objective point of view with these games, especially when they share the genre. Possibly the only unattainable point for a development which aims to emulate a bygone era is originality, even when the emulation is perfect on several levels.

 

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