We’re going to continue talking about why Shovel Knight exists in real life spawned from questions posed by Bruiser of the Leftover Culture Review. We’re going to be looking at the core mechanics of what makes Shovel Knight such a joy to run around as (Shovel Knight being a documentary of someone in this crazy universe of ours). We’re going to look at why Shovel Knight can jump so high despite the massive amount of armour, as well as bounce even higher with the help of the unbelievably amazing shovel.

Although we’ve touched on these concepts in previous works, the articles on Retroware and the book you should totally buy here, this will act as more of a quick compilation in one convenient spot.

In the Physics of Video Games: Part II: The Lost Levels (which you should totally buy on Createspace for Worldwide shipping or Amazon to the US and Canada), we introduced how it was that Lance and Bill could jump such great heights in the world of Contra. We also covered this with Kingdom Crusade on Retroware. The gist of what we spoke of is that all of these characters could propel themselves to such glorious heights because of some intense gravity training. Whether this be due to simulated gravity (like that pod on the Dragon Ball Z series), travelling to a planet with a much more intense pull due to gravity, or just being native to a high gravity planet, it all helps. What we need is a being (we’ll just assume Shovel Knight is human-like for simplicity) that has been conditioned to intense gravity and then brought into a lighter gravity. Although we may not consciously feel gravity pulling down on us, we are always experiencing the sensation and our bodies do a pretty darn good job of developing to overcome its force. The muscle we build and the bone density we have is what allows us to move around so freely, and explains why people on our moon are able to jump so bloody high. The Moon has gravity that is over %80 weaker than Earth’s. That’s a substantial difference. So wherever Shovel Knight is, the same sorts of conditions likely apply. This is of course that we’re assuming Shovel Knight is just a person in armour and not a high-jumping alien in a performance-enhancing exoskeleton; if we aren’t, then just ignore this paragraph.

Is that a human pontificating existence? Or something much more foreign to us?

Is that a human pontificating existence? Or something much more foreign to us?

With the bouncing shovel technique, we have to look at this in a slightly different mindset. Shovel Knight isn’t using a shovel to bounce off of enemies. Visually the player is unable to see any extensions or contractions with the shovel, so it isn’t a complicated setup of springs or anything. Instead what we have is Shovel Knight using the shovel as a very confusing means of being able to jump. When feet are placed on top of the one end of the shovel there is now a means of being able to jump like one would on the ground. All that is required to jump is a force that is pushing in the opposite direction of the jump, like the Earth pushing up on someone’s feet when they jump upwards. Whether they be obstacles or enemies, Shovel Knight uses this balance of forces to take a leap similar to a spring-less Pogo stick. I am sure Shovel Knight’s enemies don’t really appreciate being used as platforms to provide an opposing force, but they’ll just have to deal with the discomfort. So if we frame things in the context of a jump instead of a bounce, all is well. If we wanted the shovel to do all of the work I am sure something like what we proposed with Mega Man X Street Fighter could work in some capacity.

So that’s it for this Shovel Knight piece. Comment below, send me an email, message me on Facebook; do whatever works for you if you’d like me to analyze more Shovel Knight concepts.


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