Shovel Knight

Common Sense Media says

Vintage-style adventure digs up the right dose of nostalgia.





What parents need to know

Positive messages

The hero, known only as Shovel Knight, is on a noble quest to save the love of his life at all costs. The stereotypical story line doesn't offer much of a compelling message, but there are standard themes involving the good guy overcoming all odds.

Positive role models

Shovel Knight is the quintessential hero, taking on a horde of enemies to save the kidnapped girl and restore peace to his land.

Ease of play

As in most side-scrolling games, controls are simple, but the game will take a lot of effort to master. Players need to solve puzzles on the fly, employ perfect timing, and not take a wrong step. The game feels more challenging and aggravation-inducing than classic titles in the genre, so players should brace themselves for starting levels over repeatedly until they master the necessary coordination for each round. The game is built to be difficult, but most players with enough patience should be able to overcome its challenges.


This retro-style game involves a lot of jumping on and bouncing off enemies. For the most part, foes simply disappear when defeated. There also are a handful of drawn-out "boss" battles in which players will need to attack larger creatures repeatedly to progress in the game. But overall the art style is simplistic and the game lacks gratuitous violence.

Not applicable
Not applicable
Privacy & safety

No privacy or safety concerns.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Shovel Knight is a downloadable game designed to look and feel like a video game from the early 1990s, an era in which gameplay quality and fun were more important than stellar, highly realistic graphics. As in those older games, this title involves an endless cycle of smacking, jumping on, and bouncing off enemy characters. Players wield a sword as they travel through enemy-filled environments, but the simplistic art style makes it very difficult for parents to take issue with this content.

Parents say

Kids say

What's it about?

SHOVEL KNIGHT's story revolves around a hero who must defeat all kinds of enemies to save the girl of his dreams. It's perfectly fine that the story is so predictable, because that's what the game is designed to be. Players will dash through a seemingly endless array of dungeons, mazes, and claustrophobic rooms in which they're trapped with large fantastical creatures. They'll be focused on pressing buttons at the right time, trying not to fall onto a floating block of flames or down a bottomless chasm. The game doesn't take itself too seriously and is in many ways a parody of different franchises from the golden age of cartridge-based video game consoles.

Is it any good?


Shovel Knight will easily strike a nostalgic chord with any gamer who remembers the days before high-definition graphics, surround sound, and cinematic story lines. Younger players may not relate to the dated visuals, but the fun factor, gameplay, and sense of accomplishment after beating a difficult level are timeless qualities for everyone.

What's unique about this game is that it uses several classic gameplay styles. It's not only a 2-D adventure game, run-from-point-A-to-point-B side-scrolling action game, or a mind-bending puzzle-solving game. Instead, it has elements of all these genres wrapped into a nice, cohesive package. Players of any age should be able to appreciate what it has to offer.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about Shovel Knight's retro style. In this day of high-definition graphics, virtual reality, and motion-based gameplay, why is a game such as this still so appealing?

  • When you fail to complete a level, do you get upset and frustrated, or do you strive to do better next time?

  • If you were a video game hero, whom or what would you risk your life to protect at all costs?

Game details

Platforms:Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo Wii U
Pricing structure:Paid
Available online?Not available online
Developer:Yacht Club Games
Release date:June 26, 2014
ESRB rating:E for Mild Fantasy Violence (Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo Wii U)

This review of Shovel Knight was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

Find out more


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.
Read more

See more about how we rate and review.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Teen, 16 years old Written byVioletRaven975 February 9, 2015

Shovel Knight: Modern Nostalgia

The first thought that popped into my head upon first playing this game was, "Finally! A perfect first game!" This is a game akin to the Sonic or Super Mario Bros games of our childhood. It's colorful, exciting, and all around just a good time. Kids will love the protagonist Shovel Knight and his quest in shovel-ry. The folks over at "Yacht Club" have succeeded in making a fast paced and enjoyable experience. That said, I can see a million temper-tantrums in the future from the raw difficulty of this game. I even found my self having to walk away from my computer in a moment of rage. All disclaimers aside, this is a must-have for little gamers looking for a place to start. Just have chocolate milk on the ready :)
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Adult Written bygeorge512 August 30, 2014

Shovel Knight! A Shovel in a 8-Bit game. A 3DS/ Wii U game too have NES Graphics in the gameplay & use an E Rating. Should it used an E10+ Rating.

I think an E10+ should have been used because A Shovel is used in Real Life and covering it with 8-Bit NES Graphics. This is 2014 not 1985. The Violence used in this game is like watching TV-Y7 FV. That's what this game has. Should it be E10+ for Fantasy Violence because it's not like people will use it. This game should have a WARNING! In Violent Video Game. Simple is Don't Repeat it.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Safety and privacy concerns
Teen, 14 years old Written byngauthier404 August 15, 2014

Great adventure platformer with high difficulty

This game is fantastic! It is a "8-bit" style platformer with the style of a Mega Man game. The story is looked over by the main review, but you play as the hero Shovel Knight, running through the world attempting to save his partner Shield Knight. To do this, he has to defeat the Enchantress and the eight knights of the Order of No Quarter. This part is familiar to Mega Man players. You have to defeat all of the eight knights, go to the Tower of Fate, fight all of them again, and then fight the Enchantress. The presentation of the game is where it really shines. The graphics are reminiscent of the old NES era. The music matches the graphics, and you will be humming the music all day long, because it really does set the mood. That being said, this game is extremely hard. You start off with four hearts, and that is increased every time you defeat three bosses. This makes for some frustrating first few levels, as if you are not the type to be playing Mega Man or Dark Souls, you will find this game very challenging. However, with this game's difficulty, deaths are handled fairly. Checkpoints are scattered throughout the level. Players gain gold when the dig blocks or kill enemies. When you die, you drop a quarter of your gold. You respawn at the last checkpoint you touched. When you get to the part you died on, your money will be floating in bags that you can pick up. This way, if you get all the money bags, there is no penalty for death. This game is a fantastic game, and everyone should check it out. But, if you are not the hardcore type, try it before you buy it.


Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?


What are the different ways that you access Common Sense Media ratings and information? (Check all that apply)

Essential Apps Guide