With nine days to go, Yacht Club Games‘ Kickstarter for their “groundbreaking love letter to 8 bits,” Shovel Knight, has gained over 4,000 backers and over $94,000. Unlike many Kickstarters, Shovel Knight doesn’t have a flat goal; instead, they have “stretch goals.” With each goal, they promise more goodies for the gamers who back their funding. So far, they’ve made the first two stretch goals, $80,000 for a music player and extras, and $90,000 for unlockable achievements. Other stretch goals promise things like a “New Game+” mode, a playable boss knight, gender swapping, and a Linux/Mac version. But don’t take my word for it. I recently had a chance to talk to the good people at Yacht Club Games, and here’s what they have to say about the Shovel Knight project.
How would you describe Shovel Knight to those who don’t know what’s up?
Shovel Knight is an 8-bit love letter; a mashup of everything you loved about pixel platformers. If you are too young to remember those days, then Shovel Knight is an action-adventure platforming game rendered in an 8-bit style. Our hero, Shovel Knight, is just that; a knight with a shovel. But using that most useful of tools, he can slash, dig, and fight his way to victory!
How did you come up with the idea? Was there a conversation about what you guys liked the best about the NES?
We wanted to built a game around a single mechanic, and we were itching to make an NES-style game. We love the down thrust from Zelda II, so we decided to build gameplay around a down-thrust of some sort. Thrusting become digging, flipping, and slashing, and the sword become a shovel! From this core, we came up with all the gameplay and lore around Shovel Knight. We created an evil Enchantress and a league of evil knights for Shovel Knight to battle, and decided on details concerning both game structure and story. While our inspirations and experiences are many, we hope to blend everything perfectly into a cohesive whole.
Who’s idea was it to add the Scrooge McDuck cane jump? They deserve a high five!
It’s not a Scrooge McDuck cane jump, but we’ll collectively take the high five anyway! The Shovel Knight down thrust is inspired more by Zelda II than Duck Tales. The difference? Scrooge can bounce everywhere; Shovel Knight can bounce only on objects and enemies, and the trajecories of the jumps are really different. It doesn’t seem like a big deal but it makes the game play in a new way!
It appears that you used a little bit of non-NES effects. What exactly did you do?
There are more particles, parallax, and processing power! We have more sprites onscreen, smoother animation, and better background depth. While we tried to keep the game feeling “NES”, we also tried to augment Shovel Knight in ways that you might have hoped for as a wide-eyed kid in front of the TV. Think of it as a rose-tined view of 8-bit, or NES+!
How much do I need to pay to reserve a copy of the game?
Shovel Knight is coming out for Wii U, 3DS, and PC ( DRM free ). You can get the PC version for $10, or the other versions for $15. We are doing a Steam Greenlight, and one of our stretch goals is a Mac / Linux version too! We are also hoping to come to other platforms, so stay tuned!
Will the soundtrack reflect your influences in the same way the gameplay does?
Absolutely. Jake “Virt” Kaufman, the best chiptune artist ever to have come over to my house, is doing our soundtrack and sound effects. You can check out some of his music on our Kickstarter page, and it sounds amazing. We are using the same sounds as the NES, but adding a couple of extra channels for added depth and complexity. Overall, it’s a sound that honors the NES and hopefully takes it to the next level. We also have a bombshell announcement for music coming soon… get excited!!
Is there anything else you would like to share with new fans?
Our Kickstarter is live right now! Please go check it out to see all the cool stuff we are making for Shovel Knight, including the music, illustrations, and gameplay videos. We are also doing livestreams of animation and gameplay in real time, so come check those out too. The response from the community has been truly amazing, and we are totally humbled… we promise to make Shovel Knight our best game yet!