IMPRESSIONS: Just Shovels & Knights

Tuesday, December 17th, 2019

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At this point it’s no surprise I’m a fan of the work of Berzerk Studio, mostly due to Just Shapes & Beats. But today I’m writing up something a little different, namely the Just Shovels & Knights update to that game. Though it launched a week or two ago, this holiday season has been insane and hectic, so I’m just now finding time to write up my thoughts. Because when you mix together a fantastic rhythm game with one of my favorite indie games of all time, you know I’m gonna find something to say.

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The Just Shovels & Knights update brought 4 remixed Shovel Knight songs to Just Shapes & Beats. Not only that, but all of these catchy tunes were directly related to the Shovel Knight amiibo that have been released – Shovel Knight himself, Plague Knight, Specter Knight and King Knight. Though you’re welcome to use those amiibo to unlock their corresponding songs in this update, you can also use Beat Points. The minute I installed the update, I had already unlocked all the songs, so I didn’t have to worry about using the amiibo. However, you can also use non-shovelry amiibo to get free Beat Points.

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The remixed songs included are the following – Strike the Earth, Flowers of Antimony, In the Halls of the Usurper and La Danse Macabre. They’ve been remixed by 4 talented and familiar artists – Danimal Cannon, Rainbowdragoneyes, Kubbi and Shirobon. Though each artist adds their own unique twist to these wonderful tunes, they are very much faithful to the originals from Shovel Knight. Additionally, while most of these are regular tracks, La Danse Macabre is a boss song.

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As for how they play, I found all 4 songs to be sufficiently challenging that I couldn’t get an S my first try. That’s in part due to the fact the songs use some unusually complex shapes to attack you, including beakers, cauldrons of lava, scythes and, of course, shovels. Much more geometric diversity than in most of the songs previously available in Just Shapes & Beats. The song that surprised me with how challenging it was proved to be King Knight’s theme, In the Halls of the Usurper. I was fighting for dear life, avoiding trumpets full of confetti, a spinning scepter and more hazards. That said, I had a good time with all these songs, and definitely feel the challenge was well balanced.

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Perhaps my favorite song was La Danse Macabre. Though it’s Specter Knight’s theme, it also serves as a boss song for a very quirky boss fight. The best way I can describe it is as some sort of vindictive will-o-wisp that shoots balls of fire and hurls scythes all about. The boss has a ton of personality and was really a joy to play against. Honestly, my only complaint at all with this free update to Just Shapes & Beats was that there weren’t even more songs. Because I know from experience that there’s a wealth of wonderful music in Shovel Knight that could have been brought over along with these four. That said, I’m not too upset, since it was a free update and all. I just hope there’s more updates on the horizon for the venerable knight of Shovelry!

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About Josh Speer

Josh is a passionate gamer, finding time to clock in around 30-40 hours of gaming a week. He discovered Operation Rainfall while avidly following the localization of the Big 3 Wii RPGs. He enjoys SHMUPS, Platformers, RPGs, Roguelikes and the occasional Fighter. He’s also an unashamedly giant Mega Man fan, having played the series since he was eight. As Head Editor and Review Manager, he spends far too much time editing reviews and random articles. In his limited spare time he devours indies whole and anticipates the release of quirky, unpredictable and innovative games.