As recurring viewers of Electric Retrospective are aware, nothing makes for a story quite like Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove, the subject of ongoing coverage in the Shovel Knight Retrospective series of articles. The series was, before last night, planned to wrap up by the end of May with articles about the upcoming updates, including the final campaign, King of Cards, the multiplayer mode, Shovel Knight Showdown, and a set of Shovel Knight amiibo based on the three playable boss campaigns. Unfortunately, with less than two months left before the previously targeted release date of April 9, these updates, as well as a planned physical re-release on Switch and PlayStation 4, suffered from the bane of any game’s release date: a delay.
Whether it’s as short as a few weeks or as long as a decade, nobody wants to hear that the game they’ve waited patiently for requires more patience. King of Cards has been delayed multiple times before, with its release date initially being early 2018 when its first trailer appeared in a Nindies showcase video. However, the update now has an undetermined release date with a maximum waiting time of several months. For someone who only cares about when the game is released, this is where the story ends, but the situation has more context as any other game’s delay does. A delay like this, as harrowing as it looks, isn’t going to be the end of the world.
When discussing delays, there are split reactions among fan communities, but most fans typically view the extra wait time negatively by default. This isn’t always because of impatience, as those who’ve previously experienced delays tend to remember the worst case scenarios. Delays are often associated with games that were stuck in development hell, a term used for games that are constantly delayed over many years. After all, there have been games that were delayed through several console generations, and while this can end with a solid product, as is the case with the recent Kingdom Hearts III, the most commonly discussed delays are horror stories like Duke Nukem Forever and Mighty No. 9. Because of examples like these, delays have a negative connotation, and this stigma rears its head any time a company announces even a short delay.
Despite this, delays are usually done for good reasons, such as giving more development time or polish. While there have been cases that have burned consumers for their patience, many delays are explained honestly as soon as they happen and are easy to understand. Nintendo in particular has had to delay Yoshi’s Crafted World, Fire Emblem: Three Houses, and most notably, Metroid Prime 4, which recently had its development completely restarted because the company wasn’t happy with the direction it went.
Metroid Prime 4 then had its development handed over to Retro Studios, and given that they were the development team behind the previous installments, it’s clear Nintendo is doing this in hopes of improving the project. While it’s easy to be disappointed because of a delay, they’re most often done out of reluctant necessity to create a better product, and companies that are upfront and honest enough to explain their delay reasonably can earn respect from their audience. Yacht Club Games happens to be one such company, as the updates were delayed for polishing and simultaneous releases. The developers also decided that for future titles, they won’t announce a release date until they know the product will be ready in all iterations by that time, which means they’re taking steps to prevent this issue from coming back. Additionally, news updates will still be provided over social media to show the game’s progress.
While the polishing is self-explanatory, Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove has been released on 3DS, Wii U, PC, Switch, PlayStations 3 and 4, Xbox One, and even Amazon Fire TV. Honestly, it wouldn’t be surprising if the game received ports for LeapFrog and digital toasters at this point. The drawback of releasing the game on this many consoles is that every version eventually has to be updated, and if one platform receives the update first, it can be a tiresome wait for fans on other platforms. This happened when Specter of Torment released, as it was a timed exclusive for the Switch’s launch before making its way to other platforms a month later. Coming from someone who didn’t buy a Switch until a few months after it released, it was difficult waiting and avoiding spoilers. Even if the numerous platforms weren’t an issue, there’s also the matter of localization for other countries and languages. Before recent console generations, games released in one country weren’t often released in other countries until months later, which is significantly longer than the wait for Specter of Torment’s exclusivity to end. Yacht Club Games has translated the game to be available in nine languages, although the process can be difficult for this specific case. Since Treasure Trove is largely inspired by games from the NES, its limited resolution means text has to be worded in such a way that it fits into text boxes. By having all translations and ports available at once, the updates won’t require any fans to wait more than anyone else has to.
King of Cards and all adjacent content may be delayed for months to come, but that’s alright. While it could certainly have been handled better, and it’s disappointing that this is yet another delay to a game that could have been out a year earlier, the campaign will be it’s clear that Yacht Club Games are doing this in the interest of the final product, and the campaign will likely be a finale worth waiting for.
Since King of Cards and Showdown were scheduled for Electric Retrospective reviews later this spring, the blog’s content in coming months will be adjusted slightly, but the games will still receive reviews on the site once available. Please stay tuned.