Smash Speculation: Shovel Knight

Smash 4 already has three third-party characters. I fully understand that it’s almost impossible that another one will show up at this point, but I’ve got to let my inner fanboy out, if even for just a little while…

~ Shovel Knight ~


If you ignore the whole third-party business, Shovel Knight isn’t a totally impossible dream. His game was originally developed with Nintendo systems in mind (and also PC, but whatever), and it has done quite well for itself on the Wii U and 3DS. I’ve even heard from a handful of people that they think Shovel Knight has the best implementation of StreetPass in any game to date. So that’s something.

Anyway, Shovel Knight is a nearly perfect video game, and its titular character is a unique and versatile fighter. He’s got a bevy of special attacks, and his main weapon is a shovel! It works mostly like a sword, but make no mistake, there’s plenty of actual shoveling to go along with the monster-slaying. As a video game character, he would fit in perfectly with the Smash Bros crowd. I just don’t know if he’d fit a 3D render well. Maybe he’d just show up as a flat character like Mr. Game & Watch.

His basic attacks would obviously be shovel-based. In most video games, when you whack an enemy, the enemy bounces back a little. However, in Shovel Knight, when you whack an enemy, Shovel Knight bounces back a little. It takes a long time to get used to, and while it would be a weird quirk in Smash, I’m not sure I’d want to incorporate it. It would simply make it impossible for Shovel Knight to combo. It’d all come down to single hits, which is not an overly effective play style. He’d absolutely keep his ability to pogo off of enemies, as that’s just a lot of fun to do on it’s own, regardless of its effectiveness in battle (it would be effective in battle though).

Needless to say, his basic down attack would be to simply dig. The action itself would cause little damage, but bits of dirt and other debris would fly up as they’re unearthed to hit a little harder. I think it would be neat if this move also occasionally unearthed items.

Shovel Knight gains a total of eleven different “relics” over the course of his adventure. I’ve found a way to incorporate all of them into his moveset, even though the final few took a little more elbow grease than I’d have liked. In this way, he’ll be kinda similar to how Snake was in Brawl, where he fights with a bevy of gadgets that maybe make him a little bit harder to learn than your average fighter. His first trick, the Mobile Gear, would be his dashing attack. It’s a little gear that SK stands on as it wheels forward, damaging any foes that it crashes into. SK could still swing his shovel too, to hit enemies that jump up out of the Mobile Gear’s path. It wouldn’t stop until it hits a wall, and it does a little hop off of edges, just like in the source material.

Side smash is the Dust Knuckles, a large set of gauntlets that propel Shovel Knight slightly forward as he punches, and can be chained endlessly as long as there is something to hit in front of him. You’d pass through an enemy after two punches though, to keep it from being able to stunlock guys to death. Up smash is the Throwing Anchor, which works just like a Castlevania axe. Travels in a high arc. There isn’t much to it. Down smash is the War Horn, which knocks away all enemies in a short radius. It wouldn’t cause very much damage, instead being mostly a crowd control ability.

Neutral special is Flare Wand. It shoots a fireball straight forward. There is literally nothing else that I can add to this.

Up special is the Phase Locket. It gives Shovel Knight about two seconds of invincibility. He is immobile for about half a second when he uses it. There has to be some sort of control on it though, as it could be really cheap. Maybe SK wouldn’t be able to hit anyone or pick up any items while phased? Perhaps it just needs to charge before being used again. Or maybe we turn it into yet another counterattack move. But I really don’t want to resort to that unless there’s absolutely no other way to properly balance it. Or is it balanced enough by not providing any sort of recovery? Can the world accept another character without a triple jump?

Side special is the Propeller Dagger. This is SK’s recovery move, but it only works horizontally. Shovel Knight thrusts forward with dagger in hand, flying a good distance forward and impaling any foes on the way. It’s another fairly straightforward attack that I don’t feel needs to be elaborated on.

Down special uses the Alchemy Coin. I’m not entirely sure on how I want to play this one. In the original game, the coin rolls along the floor and turns any monsters it touches into money. It could just do the rolling part here and cause damage, since I doubt we’re going to be turning fighters into cash. I suppose it could have a chance of knocking items out of anyone it hits? We’ll have to workshop it.

Shovel Knights taunts are also important! His up taunt will produce a Troupple Chalice, and when full, it will provide one of three effects: small damage recovery, brief invincibility, or temporarily make items gravitate towards SK. The chalice can only be used once! Unless you use down taunt near a ledge, which will use the Fishing Rod. Using it on solid ground will only make it hit the ground and do nothing, but it would cause one or two percent damage to anyone it hits. If used on a ledge and the hook goes off the bottom of the screen, a troupple will be fished up and fill your chalice. The effect that you gain would be random. I think that’s kind of a neat way to go about it.

Lastly, Shovel Knight’s final smash would use the Chaos Spheres. In it, he would lift off the ground a little bit, and then start chucking Chaos Spheres in all directions (the player can control this), which bounce off of any solid objects (including other players) they hit and cause a reasonable amount of damage. Even when the attack is over, the spheres would persist until they’ve all bounced off the screen. You might think that calling in Shield Knight or the Black Knight might make for a better final smash, but I really wanted to use up that last relic, and I like the idea of them being assist trophies instead.

OKAY! That was an exhaustive rundown of just how Shovel Knight would work in Smash. Not so differently than he works in his own game, as it turns out! I know that this one is absolute fantasy, but I really am digging the idea of having Shovel Knight as a playable Smash character. A boy can dream…

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