Hi fellow users! So since joining this wiki, I’ve had the sincere privilege of proposing several video game characters I’m familiar with to be added and/or officially approved as Pure Good; Tikal, Kirby, Dixie Kong, Aku Aku, and of course, Princess Zelda. Today, I’m returning to that medium to propose another one, but this guy is actually quite different from all those others ones; they were all from more mainstream franchises, but he comes from the indie side of the metaphorical gaming tracks. However, seeing as how he’s developed an almost funny tendency to make random cameos in various other games, maybe you’ll recognize him from some other completely unrelated game you’ve played, or even own.
What’s the work?
Shovel Knight is a 2D side-scrolling platform game developed and published by the independent video game studio Yacht Club Games. It was originally released in 2014 for Microsoft Windows, the Nintendo 3DS and Wii U, but eventually expanded to many other systems the following year. In the original story/campaign, you play as the eponymous Shovel Knight, who is fighting to liberate the land from an evil spirit named the Enchantress and the Order of No Quarter, a group consisting of 8 powerful knights that she’s assembled to conquer the Valley where the game takes place, with the intent to eventually expand her rule across the rest of the world. He also aims to make it to the Tower of Fate where the Enchantress resides and where he originally lost his travelling and adventuring partner, Shield Knight, in the hopes of finding and rescuing her.
Since the original game came out, there have been several other campaigns that have been released as downloadable content. Each features the story of some of the members of the Order of No Quarter; there’s Plague of Shadows, where you play as Plague Knight in a side story that takes place alongside the main story/campaign and focuses on what he was up to during that time. Specter of Torment and King of Cards, meanwhile, are both prequels that focus on Specter Knight and King Knight, respectively. In 2019, all of these campaigns, along with a multiplayer fighting game called Shovel Knight Showdown, were released as one game under the name Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove, which essentially serves as a full edition of the series consisting of every entry in it so far.
Who is he and what does he do?
Shovel Knight is, of course, the main hero/protagonist of the original game/campaign, which is now called Shovel of Hope to distinguish it from all the additional campaigns that have come out since. He is a well-renowned and respected adventurer/hero who used to travel with his close companion, Shield Knight, but one day, they arrived at the Tower of Fate and she was enveloped by a cursed amulet. After being knocked out, he woke up to find that the tower was sealed and Shield Knight was nowhere to be found. This broke his heart, so for a little while, he retired, went into a life of solitude and used his shoveling skills for farming work. However, while he was grieving, the land was left without champions who could properly defend it, and a very powerful and dangerous spirit from the tower known only as the Enchantress started assembling powerful knight to serve her, who eventually became the Order of No Quarter and helped her conquer all of the lands within the Valley that they resided from. Upon hearing about this and that the Tower of Fate had been unsealed, Shovel Knight decides to come out of retirement to liberate the land from their grip and make his way back to the tower to save his companion in the hopes she’s still alive.
Along the way, being firmly devoted to the Code of Shovelry (yes, there’s a lot of delightfully bad puns to this effect in the game), Shovel Knight helps out anyone and everyone he can, such as a travelling musician named Bard, whom he helps by collecting any of his missing music sheets that he finds (which are actually the various pieces of music that make up the soundtrack of the game), and several citizens that he encounters in a store at the Armor Outpost, whom he gives a generous amount of gold to so they can buy what they intended to get. He also tries to cheer up a grumpy anthropomorphic frog by telling him some bad pun-ridden jokes, although to no avail. Eventually, he manages to single-handedly fight his way through and defeat all of the members of the Order of No Quarter, liberating a number of the places they conquered for the Enchantress like Pridemoor Keep and the Lich Yard.
By the time he reaches the Tower of Fate, he’s run into and fought a rival of his named Black Knight a few times. While Shovel Knight tries to convince him not to fight each time since he’s not affiliated with the Order of No Quarter and has even refused the Enchantress’ offer more than once, he finds out that the reason he’s so intent on fighting him is because the Enchantress is in fact possessing Shield Knight’s body, and he’s intent on saving her since like him, he cares a lot about her. After their third encounter at the tower, they finally manage to get on the same page with Black Knight realizing he wants to save her too rather than just defeat The Enchantress. After this, as Shovel Knight ascends the tower, he unwittingly falls into the midst of the members of the Order of No Quarter as they eat dinner, at which point they demand a rematch. Shovel Knight then engages all of them in one-on-one duels and still emerges victorious. The members are all left hanging on a chain from the side of the tower in the aftermath, at which point Shovel Knight can choose to help reel them all in after they plead for help and share an extra bit of dialogue with each of them before heading off to fight the Enchantress.
When he finally faces her, he manages to defeat and exercise her from Shield Knight’s body, releasing her from her grip. However, their heartfelt reunion is cut short when the Enchantress reemerges in a far more monstrous spectral form dubbed the Remnant of Fate. Realizing the havoc she could wreak on the land if she were to escape, despite already being worn out from battle, the reunited Shovel and Shield Knight fight and manage to defeat her together. However, in a desperate final attack upon being destroyed, the Remnant of Fate manages to wound Shovel Knight in the aftermath and the tower begins to collapse, which is later revealed in Plague of Shadows to be Plague Knight and Mona’s doing. Thankfully, Black Knight reaches them and Shield Knight instructs him to take him to safety while she holds off the Remnant of Fate’s assault. In the aftermath, Black Knight leaves an unconscious Shovel Knight at the campfire he had been using at night throughout the game so he can recuperate, while in the meantime, we see all of the residents who were forced to leave their homes and flee to outposts for safety return to where they came from. We also see what became of each of the members of the Order of No Quarter. Some have reformed, while others are being punished by being forced to make up for their actions, like Treasure Knight giving all the treasure he plundered to the people and King Knight wiping the floors of Pridemoor Keep. At the end of the credits, we see that Shield Knight survived too, and she limps over and lies next to Shovel Knight by the campfire to get some much-needed rest.
Aside from his starring role in the main campaign, there isn’t too much to say about his appearances in other campaigns since there aren’t a lot of them and they mostly coincide with certain parts of his story. He makes some isolated appearances in Plague of Shadows when he crosses paths with Plague Knight, and they play out a little differently since they’re from his perspective, but he’s still essentially playing the same role as he did in those parts of his own story (there’s at least one notable difference worth pointing out, but I’ll get to that very soon). As for Specter of Torment and King of Cards, he’s largely absent altogether since they took place during the period that he was grieving the loss of his partner and retired from adventuring, save for a brief cameo at the end of the latter when he shows up to battle King Knight and liberate the kingdom he just usurped like he did in his own story.
Okay, so here’s the interesting part; in Plague of Shadows after the Order of No Quarter is beaten a second time and left hanging from a chain on the side of the Tower of Fate, in contrast to his own campaign where you can choose to have him help them up, Shovel Knight is depicted as ignoring King Knight’s plea and leaving them there while he faces The Enchantress. Now, at least for his standards, that can seem a little mean and unsympathetic, but Yacht Club Games themselves outright confirmed that this was a result of things being presented from Plague Knight’s perspective, meaning there was probably some bias and misinterpretation on Plague Knight’s part. That probably especially applies to that part since while most of Plague Knight’s story take place completely independently from his, making most of what happens easily plausible, it’s pretty much impossible for things to have played out that way in that scene since there’s no way they both could have fought the rest of the Order of No Quarter, not to mention Shovel Knight following him and just falling unconscious while he fights the rest of them first seems a tad farfetched. So in short, him leaving them hanging from the tower in that version is almost definitely a case of Plague Knight being a biased and unreliable narrator concerning how that transpired, while his version where he’s the one who fought them all and you can choose to help them up is what actually happened. Besides, considering they all end up fine anyway, as show in the epilogue, as well as all the trouble they caused, it’s a pretty minor issue to begin with.
Other than that, there’s very little to note without really nitpicking. Shovel Knight is very much an all-around ideal hero who is kind and polite to nearly everyone he meets. Like many video games protagonists, he won’t hesitate to use violence if he feels it’s necessary, but he isn’t shown to actively enjoy fighting. In fact, in cutscenes, he is shown repeatedly trying to avoid unnecessary battles, with him trying to convince several characters he meets like Black Knight, Reize, Baz, Phantom Striker and even Polar Knight, a member of the Order who happens to be a former friend and that he thought he could reason with, not to fight. He’s shown to be quite forgiving too, like telling Reize, who only attacked him because he mistook him for a villain, “think nothing of it friend”, and more significantly, if you choose to do so, he’ll even help reel the Order of No Quarter safely inside when they’re left hanging off the side of the tower after defeating them a second time despite all the trouble they’ve caused helping the Enchantress conquer the Valley.
Obviously, if he deems you a threat and has little reason to think you can be reasoned with, he’ll dish out justice swiftly and efficiently, as the Order of No Quarter found out the hard way, but even then, he doesn’t actually kill anyone (apart from maybe destroying The Enchantress/Remnant of Fate, but for obvious reasons, I’d say that was both necessary and more than justified) and it would almost certainly be a bad thing if he did hold back since the members of the Order certainly weren’t showing him any mercy. And with regards to regular enemies, when your main weapon is a shovel, they just disappear in puffs of smoke and many of them respawn if you simply leave the area and come back in a similar manner to Nintendo franchises like Kirby and Donkey Kong, can you really say that he’s lethal? In short, Shovel Knight is not soft when it comes down to dealing out justice, but he does it all out of necessity and for a noble cause, and is otherwise a very heroic, selfless, considerate, loyal, and chivalrous knight willing to help anyone in need.
Admirable Standard/Goodness Zone
I’d say he’s passes this part pretty easily. While there are a few other heroic characters in the series, he’s easily the most heroic of them all, so he pretty much sets the in-story standard for heroism, and I’d say he does more than enough to pass the general standard. He was willing to push past the trauma and heartbreak of initially losing his partner in order to not just try saving her, but to do the right thing, namely liberating the Valley from the Enchantress, even if it meant facing the entire Order of No Quarter all by himself. In the end, he helped numerous people in some way or another in the process, successfully fought through and defeated the entire Order, rescued Shield Knight, defeated the Enchantress in her Remnant of Fate form alongside her, restored peace to the Valley, and ended the threat she posed to the rest of the world. This all has a bigger impact if you play through the Specter of Torment and King of Cards campaigns where you get to see just how bleak and hopeless the situation in the Valley had really become. However, when he came along to do something about it, he became a shining beacon of hope to the citizens of the Valley, especially those who had been forced from their homes to various outposts after they had been conquered by the Order. Thanks to him, many of them are not only liberated from living in fear, but are able to return to where they came from, such as King Pridemoor and all his subjects getting their kingdom back after being betrayed and usurped by King Knight and the residents of the Lich Yard who were displaced getting to return there. When you consider the context of what he had to face and overcome on his own, it all stands out as all the more admirable.
With all this considered, I feel I have good reason to consider him a worthy candidate of being officially approved along with a number of those other especially admirable and incorruptible video game characters, both from Nintendo and elsewhere. As usual though, I look forward to seeing your opinions and hope you find mine to be accurate, or at least understandable. Thanks for reading and all the best!