Mega Man 2 was the first game I’ve ever played on a Nintendo system. One of our family friend’s sons had a NES and would let me play it every so often. I never actually beat the game but I loved all of the bosses and the powers that came with them. I liked to find cardboard tubes and fashion my hand into a buster gun and proceed to run around the yard blasting imaginary robots. Fast forward several years and the developers at Yacht Club games have crafted a new generation of platformers cut from the same chord as my of my first foray.
Specter of Torment is one of the campaign expansions available in the Shovel Knight: Treausre Trove. This Prequel/Sequel feels like an new frontier in mechanics from the original (Shovel of Hope). I had played the first version on my old Playstation Vita and it became one of my favorite games to take on the go. I was excited to reinvest in a new version the accompanied my Nintendo Switch and explore the new mechanics that were available in the most recent expansion to this amazing 16 bit adventure.
There were two different mechanics that were great separate but amazing when combined.
The scythe seems like a more compatible weapon than a shovel, but at times it’s less like a bringer of death and more like a mode of transportation. Killing enemies for the sake of killing is a waste in this game. With the ability to launch yourself diagonally from enemies on the ground and in the air, monsters become a platform opportunity. This is an optional method of transportation at first but as you dig into the later portion of this game, it becomes a necessity. The first few levels taught me that this armor clad grim reaper is a common cold on the ground but is more akin to the Bubonic plague once airborn. Chaining between enemies or repeatedly switching sides on harder bosses takes an intense amount of timing and requires practice. At first, I would always miss time my slices, which would send me either into a pit of spikes or to some other form of certain death. With practice, bosses that others considered hard were easily defeated by anticipating and finding the rhythm of each vertical slice.
The best and possibly the most under utilized new mechanic is the ability to grind on certain rails (and sometimes spikes) with your scythe. I didn’t really encounter this mechanic till later in my play through. Pairing the timing you need to make with your jumps and attacks while automatically moving on the rail really took me back to playing old skating games as well as the more recent game Ollie Ollie. The final boss of this game utilizes this mechanic and is probably my favorite portion of the campaign. Mechanically I think Specter Knight is one part Grim Reaper and other part Tony Hawk. Slicing through a monster runs you up the half pipe and sets you up to come back down on the grind rail that sends you across the level. During trickier sections of the game, I was finding ways to retrace my steps in even less time than before making each level into a pseudo-2-dimensional-skate-park that I was slowly perfecting.
Overall, I think the Nintendo Switch version of Shovel Knight is the definitive version to play. I mainly played this on the go and it didn’t drain the battery very much at all. My wife and I are excited to dig into the co-op portion of the main campaign. It’s worth picking this up for the mechanics, creative direction and of course that mega man nostalgia. If a 6-year old version of me picked this up you would find me outside wearing an old Halloween cloak while most likely swinging a plastic garden hoe about.
Thanks for stopping by! Keep the good vibes going and as always here’s your obligatory dog tax