Frivolous Waste of Time

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Archive for the category “PS3 Games”

Lego Dimensions: The Lego Batman Movie Story Pack for PS4, PS3, Wii U, Xbox One and Xbox 360

The Lego Dimensions story pack for The Lego Batman Movie is the last currently announced and, fittingly, it’s easily the best. The Ghostbusters 2016 and Fantastic Beasts packs were good, but the transfer from their respective franchises into Lego, at times, felt a bit weird. Lego Batman is, well, already Lego, so the transfer of franchises is essentially seamless, presenting one of my favourite Lego Dimensions experiences yet, and definitely the strongest in Phase 2 since Adventure Time.

Unsurprisingly, this is a fairly straightforward adaption of the movie, which sees a lonely Batman find a family in adopted orphan Robin, Barbara Gordon and even, oddly enough, in his rivalry with The Joker. I liked the movie a lot and the game adapts it well, with a lot of the best gags landing jut as well here. There are a handful of changes to keep things moving at a better pace, but generally this is as faithful a game version of the movie you could ask for.

This is a Lego game, so you know what to expect. In the box you receive a cool Bat-computer template for portal, the Batwing and, pleasantly, two new characters unlike the one in the other packs. Robin is athletic and can squeeze through vents and Batgirl is essentially Batman, but she can use some special computers. Batman himself, using the model from the Starter Pack, can now activate certain detective skills to find clues. It never amounts to much from the usual hit shiny things, build thing, watch thing do its thing and progress, but, for whatever reason it’s something I don’t seem to stop finding fun.

The only Phase 2 Adventure World I’ve liked has been Adventure Time’s, with most simply being dull cities and Sonic the Hedgehogs making me, quite literally, feel physically sick. Gotham is another city, and whilst it has more personality than lots of the others, it still wound up being the least interesting part of the package.
Lego games don’t vary in quality much, but insomuch as this means anything, the Lego Batman Story Pack is one of the better ones.

 

Shovel Knight: Specter of Torment DLC for Switch, Wii U, 3DS, PS4, PS3, PS Vita, Xbox One, PC, OS X and Linux

The third Shovel Knight campaign was the second game I ducked into on the Switch after Breath of the Wild. It was a good choice; after the sprawling grandeur of Zelda, a nice, tight platforming campaign was exactly what I needed and jumping back into the world of Shovel Knight seemed the best way to do so.

Specter of Torment tells the story of how Specter Knight came to be the ghostly presence we see in the main campaign, as well as how he first recruited the Order of No-Quarter for the Enchantress. Yet again, Yacht Club provide a masterclass in how to include story in this kind of games. It’s light, it never gets in the way, but there’s enough to add an extras layer of engagement to the rock solid platforming gameplay.

Ah yes, and speaking of the gameplay, Specter Knight is just as fun to control as Shovel and Plague Knights before him. Just as with Plague of Shadows, Specter of Torment reuses the same locations and boss fights from the base game. Although I certainly hope we get some truly new levels down the line, the subtle alterations that are made to each level make them feel distinct. Alongside Shovel Knight’s bouncing shovel and Plague Knights bombs, Specter Knight has some interesting, fun traversal mechanics. One is the ability to slash towards enemies and certain objects, launching you across the screen. This can be combed to cover large gaps, with close timing being frequently required. Less commonly, you can also grind on your scythe along rails, which is fun but perhaps a little underused.

There’s a lot of joy in catapulting yourself around the areas and the boss fights are as fun as ever, even if Specter Knight’s abilities make them a little too easy. I was a bit disappointed by the lack of an overworld this time around, with Specter of Torment instead simply containing a level select screen inside a small version of the Enchantress’ castle. It doesn’t quite feel as fully formed as Plague of Shadows, but it’s still a really fun, challenging experience.

By this point, the base game for Shovel Knight is bloody good value, with three excellent campaigns. Specter Knight is distinct and fun to play as, although I do hope that Yacht Club begin to move beyond the original campaign as their basis.

 

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Lego Dimensions: The Simpsons Level Pack for PS4, PS3, Wii U, Xbox One and Xbox 360

Ok, this will be the last Lego Dimensions review for a while, I promise! I skipped out on buying this one as the lack of new voice acting put me off, but I saw it on sale so picked it up anyway. Through excellent animation and the already brilliant vocal performance from the show itself, the lack of new voice acting mattered less than I’d expected, at least in the main level.

The level included in an adaption of the classic episode ‘The Mysterious Voyage of Homer’, which sees Homer eat several powerful chillies, hallucinate a strange desert landscape and seek his soulmate. It’s a great episode, one of the most visually experimental episodes with a heartfelt conclusion which shows Simpsons at its best. Lego Dimensions can’t really claim the credit for how entertaining this is, but it certainly does the episode justice.

The actual level felt a bit on the short side as these things go, but it’s certainly fun enough. The level pack gives you Homer Simpson himself, his iconic pink car and, oddly, the TV set which explodes when removed from the portal. It was a smart choice to adapt this episode, as the trippy chilli induced dream scape offers something more visually interesting than Springfield itself. There’s not much to this pack at all, but it’s certainly a fun curio for any Simpsons fan.

The Adventure World is extensive and fun to explore, but here the lack of new voice acting became a much bigger problem for me. Springfield is only such a great setting because of the characters in it and that element is pretty much missing, aside from a few archival recordings from major characters. Considering how much the Simpsons cast costs these days I understand why this wasn’t possible, but it undeniably lessens the experience.

Still, Springfield and its characters are charmingly rendered in Lego. The lack of music from the show is disappointing too, with a grating theme song ‘sound-a-like’ replacing the main tune. I can’t help but compare it to the vastly superior Adventure Time pack, which had much greater attention to detail to things like music and voice than this one.

It’s not a terrible pack all around, but I’m glad I didn’t pay full price for it. It sits above the Sonic the Hedgehog pack because this one is actually fun to play, but it sits below pretty much every other one I’ve played too.

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Lego Dimensions: Sonic the Hedgehog Level Pack for PS4, Ps3, Wii U, Xbox One and Xbox 360

There aren’t many Lego games that you’d be able to call genuinely brilliant, but most operate comfortably at least around ‘good.’ Lego Dimensions has held on to that, with the entire experience operating at the boundary between good and great, which is fine, that’s where the series belongs. There hasn’t been much that I’ve actively disliked, until the Sonic the Hedgehog Level Pack for Lego Dimensions which is a rather miserable experience.

There isn’t much story apart from Sonic and pals fight to take down Eggman who has nefarious plans. That’s ok though and the writing is decent in that snarky self-aware way that recent Sonic games have fallen into. I’d always choose genuinely good writing, but Sonic is such a poisoned brand at this point that self-mockery does feel like the only real option left. Inside the pack you get Sonic himself, a pointless Sonic car and Tails’ plane.

The core story Level is a decent length and takes in a series of classic Sonic locations from a range of games, from Green Hill Zone through to the first level of Sonic Adventure with the whale. I’m no massive Sonic fan; in fact, I picked this up to play with a Sonic obsessed friend of mine (poor bastard) through the local co-op. I’ve played the first one and dabbled with some of the 3D ones from the early 2000s like Sonic Adventure 2 and Sonic Heroes, then more recently Sonic Generations, but it’s not a series I consider to be a real classic. A lot of the locations went over my head, but my depraved Sonic chum seemed to enjoy visiting a bunch of classic locations, so good for him I guess.

Somewhat appropriately, the Sonic Lego pack holds essentially the exact same issues as the main series; controlling a character like Sonic at high speed through a 3D environment in unbearable. Mario transitioned to 3D perfectly because it was a game about precision and tight control, but Sonic’s speed just doesn’t translate. This level pack has the same problem, with some fun moments of speed (never as fun as a proper Sonic game mind) hampered by the simple ‘puzzle solving’ that you have in the Lego games. I find these incredibly simple puzzles oddly satisfying normally, but they are an infuriating break of gameplay flow here. I was shocked by how well they were able to transfer over Portal to the Lego format, but they really didn’t manage to pull of Sonic the Hedgehog quite so well.

The Adventure World looks pretty nice but made me feel physically sick. Like, actual motion sick. Now, this was admittedly because of the frame rate drop accompanying co-op play combined with the high speed and open world design but when I returned to the open world in solo play I didn’t like it that much either. The same issues that has always plagued Sonic open worlds are still present here; it’s just not fun or exciting to explore. These Adventure Worlds are rarely great, excepting the Adventure Time one, but this is easily my least favourite so far.

The overall look is good, with the Sonic characters translating over to the Lego form surprisingly well. The music not so much, with Sonic falling into the same problem of The Simpsons when it came to licencing music. You don’t get Green Hill Zone, you get something which sort of sounds like it but isn’t as good. This may sound like a minor thing, but when you’re releasing a product which is, let’s face it, primarily trying to capitalise nostalgia, these details matter.
I’m afraid that Sonic the Hedgehog is easily my least favourite of these so far. They made a good stab at converting Sonic into the Lego formula, but it’s hard to claim that they pulled it off. This one is only for the die-hard Sonic fans, although to be fair my die-hard Sonic fan mate thought even less of it than me, so make of that what you will.

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Minecraft: Story Mode for PS4, PS3, PS Vita, Wii U, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PC, OS X, iOS and Android

So…this was a weird one. I have no particular love for the Minecraft brand; I’ve dabbled and I have huge respect for it as a game and learning tool, but it’s just not for me. Telltale’s brand of narrative games are almost as far from the huge freedom of Minecraft that you can get, but I fancied a narrative game to play over 5 episodes and thought what the hell. I bit off a bit more than I could chew because it wasn’t long until the series was extended to 8. Last year I was surprised to find myself enjoying Tales from the Borderlands much more than Game of Thrones despite massively preferring the latter franchise and this year I’ve been surprised to find myself enjoying Minecraft: Story Mode far more than Telltale’s Batman.

Minecraft: Story Mode is split into two distinct arcs across the first and final halves of the season. The protagonist is Jesse, male or female, who alongside his friends and trusty pet/bestie Reuben (a pig) enters a building competition in his home town. It isn’t long before Jesse is pulled into world changing events as maniacal genius Ivor releases a ‘Wither Storm’, a huge creature which grows continuingly, destroying the land. Jesse and his friends set forth to find the Order of the Stone, legendary warriors who slew the Ender Dragon many years earlier for their help in stopping the Wither Storm. The second half sees Jesse and his friends expelled from their world and unable to find their way back, wandering between a series of strange alternate worlds on their quest back home.

Recent Telltale games have struggled with openings and Minecraft: Story Mode is no exception. The tone is oddly dark and portentous; I had been expecting a lighter and breezier affair. The whole Wither Storm arc doesn’t really work; the general aesthetic doesn’t match a bizarre sense of impending doom the game aims for and the characters are too broad to carry this sort of emotional range needed to support this kind of story. Don’t get me wrong, I liked the characters, but most never get beyond that point of likeability into being something more interesting. There’s a general feeling that things just aren’t as funny as they should be. There are some heartfelt moments towards the end of the first arc when I realised I was genuinely invested in what was going on, but it just takes too long to get there. There are some great moments in this first arc, but it is in the second that the potential for this series comes into its own. Seeing Jesse and his friends travelling to a new world each episode opens up the range of scenarios that can be explored and the most interesting moments can be found here. From a murder mystery pastiche in a mansion to a rogue AI to a Hunger Games style tournament, there’s a feeling of looseness and fun in the final four episodes somewhat lacking in the earlier ones. If Telltale choose to do a second season (and I would be surprised if they didn’t) I hope that this is the approach they stick with.

Minecraft: Story Mode is a Telltale game and plays as such. There are some nods towards the normal Minecraft experience; there are crafting tables and you will sometimes have to…y’know, craft things, but this is very limited. You are essentially just arranging the items you will have picked up automatically to advance the game in a particular order. There’s nothing more to it than that. There are hints towards a more full-fledged combat system than the usual QTEs, but it’s not particularly fun and drops off towards the end. If ever there was a time to get out of the comfort zone and open up the experience a bit, it was here, but Telltale played it safe and stuck with the formula. It’s one that worked well, but it’s hard not to feel that diminishing returns are setting in, or perhaps already had set in a while ago.

The blocky look of Minecraft works surprisingly well, particularly in the character models which are much more expressive than you would expect. The voice acting is to a high standard as it has to be for this sort of game. I normally choose female characters in games, but I had to go for the male this time so I could hear Patton Oswalt, who I’m very fond of, as Jesse. He does a great job and the supporting cast do too although I struggle to think of any truly stand out performances. Telltale games are often unforgivably janky, with low framerates and dodgy textures. Minecraft: Story Mode doesn’t really have this problem, probably due to the simpler art style and runs as well as a game like this should. The music was surprisingly good too, with lots of keyboard and synths making action scenes genuinely exciting.

Minecraft: Story Mode does very much feel like Telltale on autopilot but is a decent enough experience despite all that. I enjoyed the hour or so a week I played with my fiancé, an approach which perhaps softens some of the flaws. This is far from the best Telltale game and doesn’t come close to The Walking Dead, The Wolf Among Us or Tales from the Borderlands, but it’s still likeable enough anyway.

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Lego Dimensions: Ghostbusters 2016 Story Pack for PS4, PS3, Wii U, Xbox One and Xbox 360

Due to me being a SJW libtard feminazi cuck, I actually quite liked the new Ghostbusters movie. It’s no masterpiece, but it had plenty of laughs and I liked that it wasn’t a straight remake of the original, with new characters who didn’t simply feel like analogues for the original cast. In Lego Dimensions, Ghostbusters 2016 as I shall henceforth call it is the first ‘story pack’, a more substantial offering than the level packs, containing six levels along with a new buildable frame for the game portal.

This pack follows the story of the movie pretty closely, but doesn’t really work as a Lego-ified story. Part of the charm of the Lego games is seeing franchises which aren’t comedies, like Star Wars or DC, made silly and goofy when put through the Lego lens. Ghostbusters 2016 is a comedy, it already is silly and goofy, so this story pack ends up mostly feeling like a heavily abridged version of the actual movie, without the unique Lego spin which is so great elsewhere. Still, I liked that the core four Ghostbusters returned to record new dialogue; as with the movie, Kate McKinnon is the highlight. The best moments are where elements from other franchises bleed into the Ghostbusters world, with one particular scene involving giant balloons that I won’t spoil.
The six levels are strong so far as these Lego games go. Since there’s no real challenge in these games, a lot of the charm is following the clear instructions and seeing how everything comes together. It’s an oddly passive and relaxing game experience. People may knock it, but in the moment I can’t deny that I find it very satisfying. In the pack you get Abby from the movie, who predictably has a proton pack useful for busting ghosts as well as the new Ghostbusters van, which functions much like every other car in the game; badly.

The most disappointing element is the adventure world, which is bland, flat and dull. Coming off the awesome Ooo in the Adventure Time pack, the New York of Ghostbusters feels cramped and repetitive. This is the downside of adapting such a recent release, locations such as ‘the university that Kirsten Wiig is fired from’ and ‘that Chinese restaurant they use as a base for a bit’ don’t exactly feel iconic enough to be particularly exciting. The love that was pouring out of the Adventure Time world simply isn’t present here.

The first story pack for Lego Dimensions is certainly decent, with some very strong levels, but doesn’t quite justify its existence. All three story packs are tie in to new films, which makes me a bit nervous as I feel like that is what held back the Ghostbusters pack. Still, there are worse ways to spend a couple of hours than busting your way through this pack.

 

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Lego Dimensions: Adventure Time Level Pack for PS4, PS3, Wii U, Xbox One and Xbox 360

Year Two of Lego Dimensions is here and kicking off with one of my favourite franchises, Adventure Time. Adventure Time is a perfect fit for Lego and produces what is, of the three I’ve played (the other two being Doctor Who and Portal), my favourite level pack so far.

As with all of the other level packs, the Adventure Time pack gives you Lego figures of a character and two vehicles. In this case your character is Finn and your vehicles are Jake transformed into a car and the Psychic Tandem War Elephant. The latter is one of the coolest Lego figures I’ve built for this game yet. On the digital side of things you get one linear story level and then access to the open Adventure World. The level is a fairly straightforward retelling of the Enchiridion/Lich arc from the show and is pretty much exactly what you would expect. It’s a level in a Lego game, you know what’s going to be there. As always with this game the charm comes from seeing your favourite franchise transferred into Lego form and I was left wanting a full-fledged Lego Adventure Time.

The highlight for me was, surprisingly, the Adventure World. The open worlds in Lego Dimensions have never been my favourite part; I’ve found them generally janky and annoying but the Adventure Time one is wonderful. To be honest, it’s still pretty janky, but the attention to detail makes up for it. Lots of locations from the show are here, from the Candy Kingdom to the Badlands to the Ice Kingdom to Castle Lemongrab and they’re all represented beautifully. Alongside the usual fetch/escort quests available here, there are some lovely parts which directly reference the show, such as the crying mountain who will only be calmed down if everyone in the village below him stops fighting. A highlight for me was travelling through a recreation of the digital computer world from the episode ‘Guardians of Sunshine.’ Since I have the Doctor and the TARDIS, I was also able to travel back in time to the post-apocalyptic Earth that makes up Ooo’s pre-history and do a quest for a pre-insanity Simon Petrikov/Ice King. Sure, the actual gameplay is no better than ever, but these games don’t really need to be anything more than functional, with the mechanics essentially being a delivery method for humour and charm,

The presentation in the Adventure Time pack is wonderful, with the art style transferred pretty much flawlessly. This is possibly the prettiest level I’ve played so far. The music is wonderful too, particularly in the Adventure World which loops between versions of classic Adventure Time songs like Bacon Pancakes and Finn’s buff baby song. The voice actors all seem to be in place for the major characters and I was particularly happy to hear the dulcet tones of my absolute favourite character, Lemongrab. The attention to detail here really is what sets this game apart and makes the rather steep price tag feel justifiable. As a downside I experienced several very irritating glitches of the hard crash to dashboard variety. Traveller’s Tales need to get a patch out for this sharpish.

If you own Lego Dimensions and like Adventure Time this one is a no-brainer. I didn’t spend long with it, but the time I did spend was really really fun. Sure, I was being fan serviced, but who cares if I’m enjoying it?

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Journey for PS4 and PS3

I played Journey expecting to be unmoved. Journey is so discussed and loved that I expected my reaction to be too tempered by the weight of expectation. After hearing so much about this game, how could I be expected to have a genuine emotional response? I severely underestimated my capacity to be a sentimental idiot; I cried three times. Rather than a normal review, I’m going to talk about the three moments where Journey made me cry.

Many people reading this will know that Journey is a game where you play a robed figure moving through a desert towards a mountain. The environments are beyond gorgeous, with the rolling sands reminding me of the Great Sea from Wind Waker. You’ll mostly be running and jumping, but occasionally you’ll be sliding through the sands and it was during one of these moments that I cried for the first time. As you slide down the sands through a strange ruin, the sun sets and casts the sand beneath your feet into a million tiny pieces of iridescent gold. The game lingers on this moment and it was so utterly beautiful that I found myself moved to tears.

Another of the famous features of Journey is the interesting multiplayer. As you travel, another player will join you, one at a time. They’re not identified in any way and you cannot communicate by traditional means. In a mechanic so clever I’ll be raving about it for years, you cannot simply jump whenever you want. You can awaken things in the environment which allow you to jump but you can also use this same power to allow your companion to jump and fly; they in turn can do the same for you. If two players are in synch they can support each other as they fly perpetually through the environments. There is no gameplay advantage to this; the game can be played offline with only one player, but that’s exactly the point. The feeling of two unknowable strangers coordinating simply for the sheer joy of flight was so delightful that it reduced me to tears for the second time.

The final time I cried was probably the most personal. I’m sure there are myriad ways to interpret Journey, but I couldn’t help but see it as being a trek through a sort of purgatory, a final trial before a great reward. At the end, when your character ascends the mountain and vanishes into the light I found myself crying for the people in my life who have passed on. It’s a beautiful and melancholy ending to an intensely emotional game.

Journey is a game which I imagine will mean a lot of different things for different people and I think there’ll be a lot of discussion for a long time. But that’s what art is for right? Because make no mistake, this is art. Journey was this month’s PS+ game, so if you own a Playstation you almost certainly have access to this now. Play it.

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The Walking Dead: Michonne for PS4, PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PC, OS X, iOS and Android

I’ll confess straight up that I’ve never watched The Walking Dead TV show or read the comic and so went into this with no idea who Michonne was. My experience is likely very different to someone who is familiar with the character, but I approached this as a fan of the games and Telltale in general. That said, The Walking Dead: Michonne made me more interested in watching the show than anything else has previously.

Michonne, a lawyer before the zombie apocalypse and now a machete wielding badass, has found herself with a group of survivors on a ship. When following a distress beacon, Michonne and Pete, the captain, find themselves taken to the floating settlement of Monroe. It isn’t long before things start to go wrong as misunderstanding and distrust begins to descend into violence.

There’s a feeling in the first episode of The Walking Dead: Michonne that it is going through the motions slightly. I felt like I was seeing a lot of familiar stuff and I’ve only ever played the games, much less watched the show or read the comics. There’s a frustrating predictability in how everything descends into chaos but things improve greatly in the second half, as the narrative focuses and becomes much more tense. When the cast narrows down in size and the stakes shrink this game provides some great examples of the unbearably difficult decision making this series is known for. One of the most interesting elements is Michonne’s haunting by the spectres of her (presumably) dead children. This builds throughout the episodes to an intense emotional climax at the end. In some ways the visions of the dead is a cliché, but it’s hard to complain when executed this well. All said though, Michonne grabbed me far less than Season One or Two did simply because none of the supporting cast interested me nearly so much as those from the other seasons.

There is little to discuss mechanically or visually, with it essentially playing the same and looking the same as The Walking Dead season 2. If you found the interactive story/gameplay-lite focus of previous Telltale games grating you won’t like this either.

The Walking Dead: Michonne is, for better or for worse, exactly what it says on the tin. I love playing these games with my fiancé so much that I almost always enjoy them despite their flaws. I’ll only stop playing when Telltale tell a genuinely bad story, which has yet to happen.

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Shovel Knight for Wii U, 3DS, PS4, PS3, PS Vita, Xbox One, PC, OS X and Linux

Every so often I think I’m bored of 2D platformers, until I play the next amazing one. It’s weird that the act of moving left to right and jumping, the most classic of gameplay actions, can be made to feel fresh in so many different ways. Although Shovel Knight evokes an NES aesthetic, it isn’t simply an exercise in nostalgia, being an exceedingly fun and challenging game in its own right.

Shovel Knight instantly separates itself from its NES inspirations by actually having a rather nice little story. Shovel Knight and Shield Knight were friends (or maybe more) who adventured together before a journey to the Tower of Fate sees Shield Knight possessed by a mysterious amulet and sealed inside the tower. Grieving for his lost love, Shovel Knight quits adventuring. In his absence, a malevolent Enchantress rises and brings evil to the land. Upon hearing that the Tower of Fate has been unsealed, Shovel Knight sets forth to rescue Shield Knight, but finds his way blocked by eight Knights loyal to the Enchantress; The Order of No Quarter.

The story line is light, but is pretty much a perfect example of how a little bit of added context can help to elevate an experience. There’s just enough to make me care about what happens to Shovel Knight, but not too much that it gets in the way of the gameplay. This is a lesson that I’d like to see companies like Nintendo learn; I have to say, I much prefer Shovel Knight’s approach to story over the not-really-bothering approach we see in most other 2D platformers.

Shovel Knight gets the basics very right, with tight and responsive controls and a surprising amount of flexibility for playstyle. You fight using your trusty shovel and can also pogo on foes, DuckTales style. It’s the genius level and enemy design that truly sets this game apart. Every single level adds some interesting new mechanic or twist on expectation with some fantastic boss fights to cap off each one. I’m generally not a fan of boss fights in platformers, but Shovel Knight’s combat feels better than any other 2D platformer I can recall. There’s a lot of room for experimenting with different play styles, with a load of extra tools which can be unlocked. All of them are useful in their own way and allow you to approach many challenges in a variety of different ways, building replay value through strong mechanics rather than just a simple NG+ (although there is one of those too). Shovel Knight just feels good to play, which is the strong foundation on which all the other stuff is built.

There’s a fair but more going on in Shovel Knight than just the main stages; there are a handful of optional boss fights as well as two villages where you can purchase upgrades to things like your health, magic and armour. These are all bought with treasure, which can be found scattered liberally throughout the levels. The treasure hunting aspect is built closely into the level design, with all levels containing secret, challenging areas where extra treasure can be gained. The only punishment for death is losing some of your treasure, which appears floating where you died so you can pick it up again, Dark Souls style. Again, Shovel Knight shows an underlying canniness in it’s design; in many games the currency can feel awkwardly separate from what you’re actually doing, but there’s an immediacy to the reward of collecting treasure which other games lack. To be honest, if the treasure was gained by killing enemies and was called EXP we’d be calling this an RPG. Powering up Shovel Knight is satisfying and provides an immediate noticeable boost and can make taking unwise risks for more treasure irresistibly tempting.

I thought I was done with the pixel art thing, but I guess not because Shovel Knight is beautiful. The world and enemies are bursting with character, using the retro style to create something which feels new and fresh. The music is great too, with a lovely chiptune soundtrack. Shovel Knight does well what a lot of other people have done badly and proves that, even if the aesthetic could be described as retro, the experience can still look, sound and feel fresh.

Shovel Knight is a tight, challenging little platformer that is so much more than mere nostalgia. It succeeds in pretty much every goal it sets for itself. In an industry groaning under the weight of quirky indie platformers, Shovel Knight stands apart.

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