With the Shovel Knight saga proper wrapped up, there is still one last title for me to look at. The Shovel Knight Kickstarter promised us a four-player battle mode. With each stretch goal added to the game, many were polarized as to where this game was. Yacht Club finally answered that question with Shovel Knight Showdown. A full games worth added to the Treasure Trove for free, and purchasable as a standalone should you not own the Treasure Trove.
Shovel Knight Showdown features many different characters from the Shovel Knight saga. The main four knights feel very cut down. They control exactly as they do in the individual campaigns. Yet are limited to one relic for them. Most other characters feel extremely one-note. Minibosses given a playable controller map. This game is about what you’d get from the snotty kid in class saying “the teacher won’t catch us plagiarizing if we add a second essay worth of fluff!”
Playing as a character outside of the main four, usually, sucks. I can list only a handful of the roster that feels like an actual playable character. The others are either too large, have such drastically different handling, or only have about three moves. This is absolutely inexcusable. A fighting game is made by its roster. This roster is so awful that I can’t even begin to compare it to Smash 64, Slap City, or Indie Pogo.
Showdown’s main game type sees you collecting gems. Where knocks a gem or two out of you. I can’t stand this games battle types outside of the “showdown” mode. Which is akin to a general stock match from Smash. They all either felt too random, unfair, or boring. The chaos was far too much for me, as a Smash fan who usually plays with items, it’s super disappointing to admit.
Items are very unbalanced. They all can turn the tide of battle simply for getting them. Mario Kart doesn’t work when every item is a blueshell. The random nature of them just nagged on me every time I was forced to use them. I can’t express enough how angry some of the items such as the enchanted mirror made me.
Showdown features a story mode. Each character has a set path of challenges they go through. Fighting all types of enemies, on most stages, and with every game-type. Story mode is where you’ll be unlocking the games content. Every character has a few different cutscenes and interactions throughout. Yacht Club’s writing is as on point as always.
I hated story mode. From the drastically different game-types back to back, unfair missions, and the boring bonus game. After my first few runs, I realized this had nothing more to offer me, and I began to view it as an obstacle in unlocking characters. Story/Arcade modes in fighting games do get repetitive a lot. I understand this first hand as a fan of the Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat series. But this was on a whole other level of infuriating.
The final boss of story mode is always the same. It’s a simplistic two-phase fight. In one, you must collect 15 gems as it, sometimes, shoots evil energy at you. The other you must attack it’s eye while it shoots, nearly unavoidable as some characters, evil energy at you. Fighting the thing over got very repetitive. I really wish they would’ve treated it like Smash Ultimate’s classic mode. At least two bosses, sometimes not even throw us a boss. This was just so bland.
You can say that Showdown might be fun in multiplayer! Anything can be fun in multiplayer. I can be playing ET for the Atari 2600, eating an undercooked hotdog, sitting on a bed of nails, with a good friend and have an enjoyable experience. Just because your soggy fries are better after being microwaved doesn’t mean they were good, to begin with.
I hated Showdown. There is no way I would’ve continued if not doing this little marathon. Plague of Shadows gave me a similar first impression, but I found many shining moments to Plague of Shadows. I don’t think this game is worth the $10 asking price standalone. I couldn’t even think of a proper angle to phrase this review in. I had to swear off saying anything on twitter and ranted in private with a few friends. I suggest you stay completely away from Showdown.
And so the Shovel Knight saga goes out with a whimper, as opposed to the glorious bang it deserves. I know this marathon gave me many good experiences and dozens of challenging moments. Every studio must have their turd, I suppose. Even after Showdown, I find myself heavily anticipating Yacht Club’s future projects. I hope this doesn’t detur you from being excited for them as well.