Chip Music, Game Music, Reviews

For Shovelry! Shovel Knight Arranged (Review)

August 26, 2014 | | Comment? Share thison Facebook For Shovelry! Shovel Knight Arranged (Review)on Twitter

As originally reported on, the fantastic soundtrack for Shovel Knight by Jake “Virt” Kaufman (with contribution’s by Mega Man composer Manami Matsumae) has been out and available for download at a Pay-What-You-Want price on Bandcamp for a little while now. The the music, as well as the game itself, has been described by most as both a a love letter to the NES and Genesis-era of video games, though it’s probably more appropriate to say the music and game are faithful evolutions of the retro-gaming genre. The inspirations from popular past franchises is evident in every nook and cranny of the sidescrolling platformer’s construction, but it does well enough on its own that the term “cookie-cutter” would not be giving the game enough credit, nor the music.

And there is a significant amount of music, and an additional album of arranged music by various artists on top of the original soundtrack’s ensemble as well. Shovel Knight may have had those who pledged to the game’s Kickstarter biting their nails in anticipation, but it certainly did good on its promise to deliver….in spades! (sorry, I’ll keep the puns to a minimum) Today, I’ll finally be focusing on Strike the Earth! Shovel Knight Arranged.

Strike the Earth! is a little bit unique in the fact that it’s an entire arranged album that was released at the same time as the OST it’s arranging from! Kaufman decided to scramble to call in some favors and pull together a group of arrangement artists and composer friends to quickly throw together a sister-album to launch the same time as Shovel Knight OST. To quote our own DoD review meister George “norg” Nowik, “When Virt calls, all respond.

Sure enough, that’s exactly what happened with Strike the Earth! The arrangement album features over a dozen other arrangement artists, including contributing Shovel Knight composer and Our Lady of Mega Man Music, Manami Matsumae, and also features the original compositions Kaufman used for the teaser trailers originally used to showcase Shovel Knight on the game’s Kickstarter and release trailer. The majority of the major stage themes from the game are covered by the diverse assortment of artists, ranging from eletronica to rock to classical remixes.

“Flying Machine” by Matsumae opens the album and features a change from chip to electronic sounds with a nice harmony. It’s very straight-forward without much deviation from her own source material, as is the case with many of the arranged tracks on the album such as “The Science Wizard” further in the album. This does not by any means make these tracks bad and can be seen as a upgrades on already fantastic source material. The same can be said for Mark “Blaz” Soto’s take on the same Flying Machine theme, “Luxury Liner”.

Two of my favorites from the album come after, with “Hyper Camelot (Guest Director Boss Battle)” and Jeff Ball’s “Rough and Tumble (Black Knight Battle)”. While both don’t really deviate from the source tunes either, they both manage to rather put a few extra layers on top of the gussied-up tracks. “Hyper Camelot” is a regally-inspire and lyrical arrangement featuring a boisterous singing trio (two of which being Virt and Norg themselves) on top of blaring horns and percussion. While at first I wasn’t a fan of the parallel between Shovel Knight and King Arthur lore being featured in the song, it grew on me in no small part due to the power brought forth from the blend of singing and music flare. “Rough and Tumble” feature Jeff Ball’s equally powerful violin work, frantically keeping pace with the intense pace of the Black Knight Battle theme and doing a good job of keeping it faithful to the feel of the final encounter with your in-game rival.

“SHOVEL KNIGTH” by norg is actually a cleaned-up version of his Dwelling of Duels 10th Anniversary entry, which was arranged when only the Shovel Knight Kickstarter trailer had been released and covers the main game theme, complete with false ending. Former OSV overlord Jayson Napolitano throws his hat into the arrangement ring with a mellow synth-heavy take on Shield Knight’s Requiem with “A Knight’s Darkest Hour”. “Spadehands” by Snappleman is an arrangement of the Hall of Heroes theme, which does a good job of taking a fairing innocuous tune and turning into a hybrid classical-rock piece that seems to draw a bit of inspiration from a certain Tim Burton movie also partially set in a creepy mansion with ghoulish overtones.

 Artist Midee creates a grandiose rendition of the Village theme with “The Lovely Deer Ladies”, which features orchestral notes and regal horn ensemble. If you’re looking for something more to move and shake to, artist SuperSquare gives the theme of the Lost City stage a trance makeover with “No Sense in Running”, sounding like something DDR enthusiasts would have a fun time with. I’m not sure I’m 100% with the addition of lyrics, though it is certainly something to get a certain groove on with. DJ Bouche ends the album with a very well done dance take on the game’s ending aftermath with “Ultimate VICTORY”, making me flashback to the days of the credits of the original Sonic the Hedgehog games.

 Having an arrangement album coming out alongside a game’s original soundtrack release is certainly an oddity and I remember thinking at first that it would mean the final product would sound sloppy and rushed, but it really was just the cherry on top of the sundae of awesome that has been the music of Shovel Knight as a whole. While some parts may be simple upgrades in sound from the source tracks as opposed to complete rearrangements, nothing I heard in Strike the Earth! was anything I’d consider an insult to the game’s OST, and really is a fitting tribute. You really can’t improve too much on an already fantastic soundtrack.

Strike the Earth! Shovel Knight Arranged can be found on Jake Kaufman’s Bandcamp page for whatever generous amount you wish to give for it. If you loved the OST of Shovel Knight, you shant be disappointed.

Disclaimer: The writer affirms outside friendships with some arrangers on this album, unbeholden to the scope of this review.

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