Shovel Knight, the character, made his debut in 2014 in a video game appropriately called Shovel Knight. The game was praised upon release and is remembered as a well-executed platformer inspired by NES classics. Since then, the game has received multiple DLC additions and Shovel Knight has appeared in spin-offs like Shovel Knight Pocket Dungeon and most recently, the roguelike platformer, Shovel Knight Dig. More impressive, however, is Shovel Knight’s penchant for appearing in games that don’t have his name in the title. Shovel Knight has either appeared as himself, or been referenced, in at least 33 non-Shovel Knight games. He even received his own Amiibo and a line of kid’s meal toys with Arby’s.
Ahead of the release of Shovel Knight Dig, we spoke with Yacht Club’s Celia Schilling, who handles licensing and marketing for Shovel Knight, and asked a simple question: Why is Shovel Knight in so many things that aren’t Shovel Knight? “Oh, I don’t know. There’s a lot of them,” Schilling says. “We think it’s funny. It’s just that we’ve always imagined Shovel Knight as like an all-encompassing universe. To see Shovel Knight in different things, or like Arby’s kids meal toys–it just makes sense for our brand. And it’s hilarious.”
Shovel Knight Dig is much more than a cameo for the knight with a unique weapon. Dig is a roguelike that gives Shovel Knight a host of new abilities and upgrades, but unlike games like Shovel Knight Pocket Dungeon (a puzzle game), Dig feels like it could almost be a sequel. It’s not called Shovel Knight 2, though, for a very specific reason. “It can’t be a sequel because it’s a prequel,” Schilling says. “It follows Shovel Knight’s point of view in his story, so it’s technically a prequel to Shovel of Hope. It takes you back to the good old days of him and Shield Knight just adventuring and beating up baddies and collecting treasure.”