Yacht Club Games, the indie development studio most famous for its groundbreaking (haha) pixel platformer Shovel Knight, today announced a brand new game developed in collaboration with mobile studio Nitrome. Shovel Knight Dig, which currently has no announced release date or platforms, takes Shovel Knight away from his NES-inspired side-scrolling roots and instead sends him in a downwardly direction, ala Mr. Driller.
Drill Knight, a new and large jerk, has destroyed Shovel Knight’s quiet little campsite and turned it into the site of a massive mining operation that threatens to collapse the entire kingdom. Shovel Knight must dig his way through subterranean worlds in pursuit of Drill Knight, collecting loot and permanent upgrades along the way. I say “permanent” because it sounds like Shovel Knight Dig is one o’ them there roguelikes.
“Every adventure is different!” claims the official website. “Shovel Knight Dig levels have been meticulously crafted, then stitched together using proprietary generation techniques for infinite replayability.” It’s not exactly clear how Yacht Club’s procedural generation tech differs from that used by other roguelike developers, so we’ll just have to wait and see what’s so proprietary about it.
Based on the above trailer and below screenshots, Nitrome seems to be handling Shove Knight Dig‘s visuals. Yacht Club refers to the new look as “high color pixel graphics” on the official website, and it’s a look that jives one-to-one with Nitrome’s colorful history. “Fluid animation, scaling, rotation, and parallax create the most convincing Shovel Knight world yet,” according to the site, which definitely sounds like a diversion from Shovel Knight‘s established aesthetic. That’s not to say that Shovel Knight or its expansions weren’t gorgeous, mind you. Just that Yacht Club has traditionally foregone certain graphical techniques that would invalidate its cred as a spiritual successor to the likes of Duck Tales, Darkwing Duck, and other, non-duck based games of yore.
It’s unusual for Yacht Club to announce a game without saying what platforms it’s planning to release on. Nitrome’s involvement does invoke the possibility of a mobile future for the title, what with that being Nitrome’s whole bread and butter, but it’s also possible that Yacht Club is just leaning on Nitrome’s pixel art skills to supplement its own development. After all, Yacht Club seems to already have its hands full with Shovel Knight Showdown, a new multiplayer brawler starring the franchise’s colorful cast of characters, and Shovel Knight: King of Cards, the original game’s third full expansion.
Both Showdown and King of Cards were delayed earlier this year, when Yacht Club posted an update lamenting that it would miss its previously stated launch date of April 9, 2019. “It remains our focus to bring [Showdown and King of Cards] to the highest level of quality just as we have with previous Shovel Knight games,” Yacht Club said at the time. “It’s also our priority to have these games on the disc/card for the upcoming physical version. We need a little more time to make this happen, and so we are pushing the release back one last time. We’re still aiming to release everything at once, so this this delay applies to everything: physical editions, digital update, and Treasure Trove amiibo 3-pack.”
Yacht Club estimated the delay would push Showdown and King of Cards back by “several months– at most!”