Game of the Month - June 2014 - Shovel Knight

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See our Game of the Month winner for June 2014
Digging for buried treasure.

June is the one month out of the year where we expect to catch a glimpse of the future of gaming, and sure enough, this year's E3 delivered loads of exciting announcements. But even though most of those games won't be in our hands until 2015, it was still a great month thanks to all the games released over the past few weeks that kept our heads, hands, and hearts busy.

1001 Spikes was an early favorite, with its pixelated charm and enjoyable but punishing platforming, but that same day, we also got WildStar, a colorful massively multiplayer online role-playing game stuffed with character, unusual things to do, and interesting places to see. A week later, a revamped version of the sharp-looking Blood of the Werewolf landed on the Xbox 360, and we were pulled in by its monster-movie lore and lycanthrope-fueled platforming. We were also drawn into the melancholy Valiant Hearts: The Great War, which presented the human side of armed conflict and involuntary enlistment, which is so often ignored or omitted from games that use war as an excuse for "gritty" settings and unchecked brutality. As deserving of recognition as those games are, it was Yacht Club Games' Shovel Knight that ultimately won us over and secured the award for Game of the Month in June.

No Caption Provided

Shovel Knight is a smart and refined platformer that evokes the spirit of some of the best NES games of the late '80s and early '90s, including the likes of Mega Man, Castlevania, and Duck Tales. But, this heavy dose of nostalgia is just the icing on the cake. Shovel Knight stands tall on its own merits.

Like Mega Man, Shovel Knight thrives on a variety of enemies and platforming challenges, making it near impossible to plow through levels your first time through. But Shovel Knight is a less punishing game than Mega Man ever was; numerous checkpoints per level help stave off the frustration of starting from scratch when you inevitably meet your doom. Of course, if you've got bravery and greed coursing through your veins, the checkpoints strewn throughout each level can be destroyed for extra cash, paving the way for new upgrades and greater feats of shovelry. Likewise, alternate, treasure-lined paths stand out, beckoning for your trowel's sting.

Tread carefully, intrepid knight, but keep your eyes and ears open. Visually, Shovel Knight is a feast for the eyes. Yes, it's lo-fi with an 8-bit lean, and the music is suitably chippy, but you could also characterize it as a game filled with delightful art and a catchy, fast-paced soundtrack. It may be easy to point to the old-school qualities that can be found in every element of Shovel Knight and call it a nostalgia grab, but that top-level analysis ignores the fact that, even though it borrows from the past, it does many of the things it seemingly emulates better than the source material ever did, despite what our memories of the past would like us to think. Still, there's a reason we hold those classics dear in our hearts and minds, and a reason Shovel Knight deserves recognition for standing up to the caliber of its muses, and then some.

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Avatar image for amia5724

this seems horrible. not sure. any good new game out there?

Avatar image for GSyymogettbarangkayyGS

You fail at life if you havent AT LEAST tried Wildstar out. Yeah I know it's an MMO once again, but holy carumba is this the one MMO after The Big One aways back.Tinker-junkies would enjoy the oniony levels of customization from crafting all the way to client level addon mods.

Here's their channel to get ya started:

Avatar image for amia5724

<< LINK REMOVED >> nvm. saw one of the trailers. THIS IS AWESOME!

Avatar image for GSyycmayuga13yyGS

<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> play it! its... how do I put it... AWESOMER! :D

Avatar image for amia5724

<< LINK REMOVED >> hmm I saw this on another site. Is it good?

Avatar image for nazgoroth

Yet not out in europe nor are there clear signs of it coming out in europe. Yankeedoodle crap!

Avatar image for snakeinapanic

Simply put , this game is horrible.

Avatar image for hotdiddykong

Shovel Knight's great, but people need to stop it with the excuses that people only like it because its retro.

The game has great gameplay mechanics even if you take away the retro graphics.

All 3 versions that the game is on (Wii U, 3DS, PC) is awesome but if i may quickly say, i really enjoyed the 3D effect on the 3DS version, 2D Images do 3D much better.

Avatar image for evarin

I wonder what the lowest score a game has received and was still selected as "Game of the month."

Avatar image for Sevenizz

They're just trying to be edgy. They rate it a 7 yet other games get an 8? Logic tells you that a higher score means it's a better game. Huh?

Avatar image for thecman25

it kills me knowing that ign thinks this is GOTY worthy, which clearly its not

Avatar image for Sevenizz

It's Duck Tales with coin collecting. Had this come out in the 80s, it would have been ripped to shreds for being a copy.

Avatar image for Bellum_Sacrum

Well deserved. It's become rare to see a game were developers actually know what they're doing in this age of sellouts and casual pew pews.

Avatar image for Deano

isn't shovel knight about a guy rescuing a girl, we can't have those kind of sexist misogynistic game storylines anymore in games it's the year 2014 after all, I think you should not be promoting this game where women are helpless and need to be rescued by a man

Avatar image for game_gt3

@Deano i disagree. we do need some generic and simple story games like shovel knight. the game is about the adventure, not about the realistic story. every fantasy advanture game, book and what not is about a prince/knight/just a brave man who safes a princess/woman that somebody loves and so on.

nothing in the game is meant to be sexist and no normal player will or should see it like this.

if you cant enjoy the game for what it is, then dont play it. but saying that the whole concept should be removed is just wrong. the more variety the better.

Avatar image for skootbootz

@game_gt3 He was poking fun at how GS always brings up the sexism/race issues when ever and where ever they can be bring it up.

Avatar image for jupsto

I dont understand why platformers are still so popular, even as a kid they got tiresome and I would have played other games if there were any. nowadays there is so much more interesting types of games out there.

Avatar image for realguitarhero5

Well this month was an easy one, wasnt it.

Avatar image for asclepiusx

I really like these game of the month rundowns! If i could suggest something, maybe you could say which console each game is available for? I haven't heard of 90% of these games and I have to open up a new tab on each one to see if I can even play it.

Avatar image for Topology

Got it on the 3DS, and it's awesome. The 3D is wonderfully implemented.

Avatar image for MAjaj94

cool game

Avatar image for Thanatos2k

A properly made Megaman/DuckTales/GhostsNGoblins game? Of course it's better than the usual AAA crap being shoveled out.

Avatar image for enuo9

Didn't Gamespot give this game a 7?

Saying something along the lines of; "Shovel Knight is a good reminder that game design does age but can never die and that simple mechanics can still be immensely satisfying. But this is not another classic. "

And; "Shovel Knight is a memorable re-imagining of what I grew up with, but doesn't have the longevity or inventiveness to be great in its own right."

Avatar image for hotdiddykong


Review scores vary, everybody has their different opinions.

For example, Almost everybody thought Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze was amazing, except Mark who gave it a 6 and GOTM was given to Last of Us DLC

Avatar image for Thanatos2k

<< LINK REMOVED >> Metacritic's an 87. Gamespot blew it again.

Oh look, Tom McShea was the reviewer again.

Avatar image for hystavito

<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> Does the game being chosen for Game of The Month mean that most of the staff (the ones that get a vote) do not agree with Tom? :)

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat


I wouldn't be surprised if Tom himself voted for this.

Besides, the lot of you need to be reminded that Tom doesn't regard game scores like you do.

Avatar image for Thanatos2k

<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> Yeah, he regards them incorrectly.

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat


That's just a difference of opinion over arbitrarily-given numbers.

Avatar image for hastati4

Let's be honest. June is the month for watching E3, and catching up on a lot of games that you missed because of the Steam Summer Sale.

Avatar image for gdainezi

Just bought it on Wii U! Very happy!

Avatar image for label07

@gdainezi Bought it on the what..? People still own those?

I'll wait for a steam sale, not implying the game isn't worth $15, I'm just cheap...

Avatar image for fig56

Cheap isn't the word I was looking for. Hmmmm...how about TR0LL. Yeah that's better.

Avatar image for DinoBuster

A fine choice, but Valiant Hearts is easily my personal game of the month, and I suspect it will wind up being among the best I play this year.

Avatar image for rskueem

Valiant Hearts: The Great War should be game of the month June 2014 imo =) Words cannot express how I feel about that game. Sniper Elite 3 review should have done in last month, btw why still no review?

Avatar image for benleslie5

Heard soo many good things about Shoval Knight I'll have to play it at one point. My Game of the Month June has to be Valiant Hearts

Avatar image for spacecadet25

And EA says were in a "Golden Age" of gaming, but look at this month's line-up, ha!

I would love to see the looks on our faces if this article was shown to us gamers 20 years ago back in 1994, as an example of the best games of the month 20 years later. I think we'd weep, or just quit gaming. Sad, sad looking month.

Nothing is wrong with some indies, but we need more than just indies.

Avatar image for Dragon_Nexus

<< LINK REMOVED >> This month's line up?

You're complaining that the summer drought, the thing that happens every year, has hit again?

People don't buy games over the summer. They're too busy going outside or going on holiday. The lack of games in June shouldn't be a surprise to you.

Avatar image for hystavito

<< LINK REMOVED >> Your 1994 example is a very good point I had never thought about, and yes I would have been disappointed. I'm not against indies and retro graphics, but I do miss those days when I would be wow'd by the graphics when a sequel came out, or the physics, things like that. However, that was on PC.

I am really looking forward to the upcoming sort of second gen of indies if you wanna call it that, the ones that have interesting ideas but also modern graphics. Some are already out of course, but there should be a lot more coming, and with the new subscription services they'll have access to top of the line engines too.