Shovel Knight is one of those games that just gets everything right. I’ve sung its praises before and there is no shortage of tremendous praise online, so we won’t be providing any detail about the game’s exceptional quality. Instead we’re going to try and make the impossible possible as we explain some of the physics concepts involved in this game. Not the physics engine itself, but how things actually function in the Shovel Knight world since much like when I proved that Contra could exist in real life, we’re working under the assumption the Shovel Knight could happen in real life. I can’t see anything in this game that occurs that couldn’t happen with the laws of physics that we know and accept. Name a concept and we’ll cover it or reference another moment when it was already covered. Today we’ll look at how Specter Knight can fly around and toss a scythe in arching paths with such ease. Who better to talk about since the Specter Knight DLC was announced! We’ll firstly focus on how Specter Knight can float around.


Yeah. That boss!

The simplest answer that first came to mind is basically a jetpack system underneath the bulky cloak, but that wouldn’t be a sufficient explanation. Players would likely see some type of exhaust and a propulsion system that allows Specter Knight to be so high would produce a tremendous amount of force. This force wouldn’t allow for Shovel Knight to walk under the stream, yet players are able to walk under the boss unscathed. So we’re going to need to look elsewhere.

The next thought gravitates to a complicated system of magnets, much like when we looked at floating chocolate in Conker’s Bad Fur Day. But Conker’s just had a stationary chocolate chilling out while Specter Knight is a boss that goes mental all over the place when trying to attack Shovel Knight. Thus we need something a little bit more complex. We’re going to have to use a system of electromagnets that are affixed to surfaces all around and on Specter Knight. Electromagnets allow for magnet intensity to be adjusted quite readily, which works out perfectly since Specter Knight has a plethora of little arms controlling many dials to change magnet intensities all over the place (there’s a lot going on under that cloak).

When we’re talking about magnets all over the place and lots of arms and dials, we really mean it. Things are quite simple if Specter Knight just wants to float in one spot and have a good time. All that needs to be done are the arms need to crank up magnet intensities to be at a desirable level of repulsion to achieve the appropriate floating altitude. But the intensity is quickly ramped up if Specter Knight wants to make a foul swoop to slash at Shovel Knight. And keep in mind that it is not possible for Specter Knight to just push off in some random direction like when we talked about Mega Man changing directions midair, as there isn’t enough pressure in the air to push off in any direction. What needs to happen is rather complicated in comparison. What Specter Knight needs is a series of pivoting magnets on the ground and under the cloak that change direction and polarity depending on the circumstance. If swooping, magnets directly below will need to continue to repulse, but magnets further ahead in the swoop need to provide a much stronger attractive force to draw Specter Knight closer. To go downwards those magnets gradually provide less of a repulsive force.

The same sort of process will happen with the scythe as well but with minor differences. For example, the spinning blade is achieved by Specter Knight giving a little twist when tossing, but also includes electromagnets in the scythe that change the direction of the magnetic field to continue repulsing in a uniform fashion. This also helps neglect air resistance and allows for Specter Knight to not have to exert as much effort when tossing the blade, as magnets will do a lot of the work instead.

So there you are. That’s why in real life, right now, it’s possible for Specter Knight to exist and do exactly what happens in the game. It’s incredibly unlikely, but it’s certainly possible with the universe being infinite and all. Oh, and to answer the potential question, Shovel Knight wears armor that doesn’t react to magnets. You know. For shovelry!


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