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Published July 24, 2014

Why dig when you can fish?Sometimes I’m a little too harsh on our love of retro games. We accept retro games with arms wide open because they make us remember better times (read: older times), which disturbingly makes the halcyon days of Nintendo the era our children will one day snicker about.

When Shovel Knight first became the big thing, I was just as skeptical as usual. Even after Justin and Tom had fallen in love with the game, I was still a bit apprehensive. I was secretly sure the game was a retro dud in the back of my mind, even once I had resolved to purchase the game anyway.

Sometimes I’m so happy when I’m dead wrong about things.

A good retro game would remind of the NES games I played, or even pay direct homage to them, making me smile and nod knowingly. It takes a truly great game to hit every note of what made those games so great, and in so doing propel me back to that time, like the gaming version of smelling an aroma long thought forgotten. When I was playing Shovel Knight I could almost smell the slightly damp smell of the basement I played a majority of my NES games. I’m pretty sure I heard the distant call that dinner was ready and I needed to stop playing.

And much like in those days, I’m equally terrible at playing the game – then because I was young and inexperienced, now because I’m old and impatient. There is a character in the town of Shovel Knight that can tell you how many times you’ve died among other game stats. I don’t check on her anymore; I try not to even let my gallant Shovel Knight look in her direction. The shame.

The fact that I’m terrible at the game hasn’t slowed my progress and my desire to keep plowing through the content. The resources that you lose from dying are fairly plentiful, so there’s no worries of not being able to finish or collect all the skills and armor the game has to offer. There are plenty of cheesy ways to take down all the bosses; if one skill doesn’t work, surely some “Troupple” magic and frantic pogo attacks will.

I think the call to get this game on Wii U or PC is the right one. On the 3DS, there’s no way the majesty and precision of the NES retro-ness would shine. But, if it’s your only way to play the game it’s definitely better than not playing the game. Make the time for this instant classic.

I'm thinking about playing it right now, in fact I'm probably playing it as we speak...

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