Official artwork of Shield Knight
|First game||Shovel Knight|
|Designed by||Erin Pellon,|
Shield Knight is a secondary character in the 2014 indie platform video game Shovel Knight. Saving Shield Knight, who is possessed by a cursed amulet turning her into the evil Enchantress, is the main objective of player-character Shovel Knight.
Conception and creation
Shield Knight was announced on September 2, 2013 as Shovel Knight's "inseparable partners in adventuring." According to Shovel Knight programmer David D'Angelo, Shield Knight was originally supposed to be a princess, as the creators were using "Roll, Peach, Zelda, and other Damsel in Distress models from the NES era" as inspirations. Originally, due to her lack of character, she was referred to as "Princess MacGuffin" within the development team.
Shield Knight was decided to become a strong hero so that, according to D'Angelo, "the connection between the player and Shield Knight would be even more powerful, as Shield Knight wouldn't be just an object—Shield Knight would be as meaningful as a loved one." Shield Knight was also originally supposed to die at the end of the game, where Shovel Knight had to bury his loved one with his own shovel. This was changed because the creators felt they hadn't developed the characters well enough yet for the ending to be effective; "it was hard to feel anything other than cheated by the death of Shield Knight."
After completing some levels in the game, a dream sequence starts where the player must catch a falling Shield Knight. According to creators Nick Wozniak and Sean Velasco, these were intended to emotionally affect the player in a similar way as Mother 3 does. Velasco described the thought process as follows:
|“||[I]n our game, and NES games in general, you have to be able to say something without saying anything. So it's like what has more charged meaning in it than a solitary knight at his campfire either reliving something that happened or just having a little moment of respite after a big battle? ... Instead of watching Shovel Knight being freaked out and trying to catch Shield Knight and having these recurring nightmares, you're actually experiencing it as it happens. And also just like a real nightmare after the stage is done you don't know what's going to happen necessarily.||”|
|— Sean Velasco|
Velasco and Wozniac have stated their interest in a possible co-op mode, where both Shovel Knight and Shield Knight are playable, though since she wasn't conceived "until halfway through development," the creators haven't pursued this concept. In the character's original reveal, she was characterized as "Confident, Powerful, and Tenacious," though occasionally reckless. Shield Knight wears a small shield on her wrist and a larger shield nearly the size of her entire body, with which she can "easily defend against melee and ranged attacks before counterattacking up close."
Body Swap mode
For Shovel Knight's 2017 "body swap" downloadable content, Yacht Club created male versions of Shield Knight and the Enchantress. The "Enchanter" was one of the first body swap concepts Yacht Club explored, and his creation process led to many of the design rules Yacht Club's artists subsequently imposed on themselves. The Enchantress' design was inspired by traditional Japanese attire, so Yacht Club initially experimented with kimono and robes for her male counterpart as well. When this did not work out, artists moved on to a samurai-inspired design, similar to that of Ganondorf in the Super Smash Bros. series. Yacht Club's artists originally explored skirted designs for male Shield Knight, but these did not make the cut. Certain ornamental aspects of Shield Knight's armor were removed or reduced in size in order to make the character look more masculine.
Her initial design was described by Destructoid as a "female warrior who wields two shields of comically different size." As one of the features promised in the stretch goals was a "gender swap mode," both Destructoid and Nintendo Life wondered whether Shield Knight would be the heroine of this mode. Furthermore, Nindendo Life editor Thomas Whitehead was glad that the Shield Knight wasn't in any way similar to Princess Peach from the Super Mario series, while Technobuffalo described Shield Knight's role as another throwback to classic 2D platformers: "a daring knight out to rescue his lost love."
Kat Baily of USgamer praised the dream sequences in which the player as Shovel Knight needs to catch a slow falling Shield Knight. Inevitably, as the player is about to catch her, a flash of light appears and the titular character wakes up at a campfire. Baily described this as "a moment that reflects the medium's continued trend toward expressing emotion through gameplay" and states that she "wasn't expecting to find it in a retro platformer like Shovel Knight." Den of Geek described Shield Knight as a "simultaneous homage and inversion of an old concept," praising her role as half of Shovel Knight's team and the affecting impact her dream sequences made on the player. Shield Knight was called a "far cry from Princess Peach." Jake Muncy of Loser City described the loss of Shield Knight as the major theme throughout the game. He argued that this is not only reflected by the dream sequences, but also by the "very presence of the shielded enemies, whose shields you can bounce on using the head of your shovel like a pogo stick ... as Shovel Knight undoubtedly bounced on Shield Knight’s," which he described as "a mechanical reaffirmation of Shield Knight’s importance."
- Yacht Club Games (2013-09-02). "Update #26: Shield Knight and More!". Kickstarter.
- Baily, Kat (2014-12-05). "2014 Recap: Shovel Knight's Surprisingly Affecting Storytelling". USgamer.
- Turi, Tim (2014-07-24). "Shovel Knight Devs Discuss Co-Op, Pogo Jumping, And Beyond". Game Informer.
- Parreno, Ryan (2013-07-11). "Shovel Knight announces new female character Shield Knight". Gameranx.
- Yacht Club Games (2017-03-15). "Shovel Knight rethinks gender in retro games with Body Swap Mode (update)". Polygon.
- Staff (2013-07-10). "Shovel Knight update reveals female Shield Knight". Destructoid.
- Whitehead, Thomas (2013-07-10). "Yacht Club Games Reveals Shovel Knight's Partner, Shield Knight". Nintendo Life.
- Duwell, Ron (2013-07-11). "Shovel Knight Searches for Long Lost Love, Shield Knight". Technobuffalo.
- Baily, Kat (2014-06-27). "Shovel Knight PC Review: Digging Up the Past to Find Buried Treasure". USgamer.
- Matar, Joe (2015-03-05). "Why Shovel Knight Is a Masterpiece". Den of Geek.
- Muncy, Jake (2014-12-10). "Melancholy in the Age of Shovels: The Bright Sadness of Shovel Knight". Loser City.
- Couture, Joel (2016-03-17). "Plague And Shield Knight Coming To Join Your Plush Shovel Knight". Siliconera.
- Carpenter, Nicole (2016-03-15). "Adorable Shovel Knight Plush Toys Available For Pre-Order". IGN.