Shovel Knight Wii U / 3DS / PC

Shovel Knight Wii U / 3DS / PC
Summer may be blockbuster season for movies, but apparently even otherwise pasty-faced gamers like to play in the sunshine. This pretty much takes triple-A titles off the table and allows indie releases like Yacht Club's Shovel Knight to shine.

While it may seem like just another retro side-scroller, the irony-free Shovel Knight transcends its peers because it really, shall we say, digs into what made the best 8-bit games classics transcend their technological limitations.

New micro-studio Yacht Club Games, staffed by defectors from Double Dragon Neon-maker WayForward, scored funding for the six-person team's first game via Kickstarter. Shovel Knight cracked $300,000 from almost 15,000 backers who believed in their goal of developing "a groundbreaking love letter to 8 bits!"

In this they succeeded magnificently, absolutely nailing their pitch-perfect replication of an NES-era Duck Tales-meets-Mario 3-meets-Mega Man platformer.

"We want to give everyone the same collective types of game experiences that have defined our generation," they wrote on Kickstarter. And they achieved it both with Shovel Knight's beautifully minimalistic pixel-art visuals and chiptune audio — the latter courtesy of an original Mega Man composer, no less — as well as its clever level design and challenging boss battles.

Wielding a bounceable shovel blade in his battle against the evil Enchantress and her henchmen, The Order of No Quarter, Shovel Knight also feels immediately iconic in a way most neo-retro game characters don't. This helped it become an immediate hit, surpassing 75,000 copies sold, not counting Kickstarter backers, in the first week alone.

Sure, Shovel Knight may inspire more nostalgic feels from old-school gamers, but it also teaches the post-Playstation nation why it's still worth going back to the future. (Yacht Club Games)