5 – Shovel Knight
That soundtrack. That platforming. Those bosses. THE BAZ! Everything about Shovel Knight as a game is created to form a love letter to classic NES games of years past. It’s the sum of its greatest nods to gameplay; path-branching overworld like Super Mario Bros, memorable collection of bosses like Mega Man, secondary attacks of Castlevania, the brutal difficulty of Dark Souls, the town exploration of Zelda II and the pogo-like action of Ducktales.
Instead of being a cheap ripoff of its inspirations, Shovel Knight molds them together to create something new. Plus, with a mind geared toward building its community, its strongest inputs come through its Kickstarter following. Incentives involved being “director for a day” for several high-paying backers, including Matt and Woolie from Super Best Friends Play, who helped to create one of several side bosses that add a flair to an already-enigmatic title. Seeing fans both fund and design a game really drives home the “Indie” feel for this excellent bite out of 1980’s 8-bit gaming.
Plus, the developers being so tuned into the speedrunning community when creating Shovel Knight speaks to the respect for all types of gamers who pick it up to play.
Next: #4 Reimagines The Old While Racing Through The New