[Interview] Yacht Club Games on Shovel Knight: King of Cards and Showdown, “Dumb Ideas” doc, future, more
What’s it been like seeing Shovel Knight be received so positively in the Nintendo community? And are you happy with how the game has sold on Switch?
Oh yeah, absolutely. I don’t think anyone on our team could say we weren’t. I think Switch is probably our best-selling console. You would think maybe on Steam or somewhere – especially considering the Kickstarter happened – you would think PC players might be our biggest demographic, but yeah, Switch. And we’re all massive Nintendo fans, and having Shovel Knight in Smash, and having the amiibo, for us it has been an incredible experience. It’s extremely humbling – just all of the positive reception we’ve received and people being receptive to a character like Shovel Knight being in Smash.
We know that a new 3-pack is coming when Shovel Knight: King of Cards and Shovel Knight Showdown are launching, but would Yacht Club be up for producing even more amiibo in the future whether it’s this IP or another IP?
Yeah, we’d love to. Someone from Nintendo needs to talk to us. (laughs)
Shovel Knight as a character seems to be popping up in more and more games, ranging from smaller titles to large ones like Smash Bros as an Assist Trophy. He’s so iconic, I’m sure there’s a ton of demand for his inclusion. How does Yacht Club go about deciding which projects to let him be a part of?
I think it’s really just down to us gauging the level of interest from a developer that comes to us and wants a cameo. First we have to see if the game that they’re pitching is the right fit for our brand, because we wouldn’t want something that’s all blood and guts and carnage to kind of hold hands with the Shovel Knight brand. I guess that might just be kind of be a weird fit.
On that note, we have to be a bit discerning. But in general, it’s really just if a developer is really passionate, we see that they’re generally just fans of Shovel Knight, we’re happy to talk with them. We’ve got so many cameos that obviously it’s clear that we’re fans of a lot of other games too, and we want to support them as much as they’ve helped support us.
In regards to Shovel Knight’s Assist Trophy inclusion in Smash Bros. Ultimate, can you talk about what that process was like? Did you have to work with Nintendo directly, communicate with director Masahiro Sakurai in any way, or provide any sort of assets for the team?
Unfortunately, working with Nintendo is like a huge deal for us. I wish we could talk more about what the process was like. But yeah, unfortunately, I can’t really say anything leading up to the release of the character in Smash. It was exciting news for us when we were approached about it, and it was hard to stay as tightlipped as we had to during the whole process. I wish I could say more.
Were there ever any talks about having Shovel Knight playable in Smash Bros., or were all of the discussions just related to things like the Assist Trophy and spirits?
I think it was really just them kind of telling us what they wanted to see. And us doing our best to oblige. There was never really any… I can’t comment.
Once it’s all wrapped up, what do you foresee in the future for Shovel Knight? Do you immediately want to get to work on another game featuring the character? Could we see him in other types of mediums like comics or animation?
Yeah, definitely. We were in talks with a lot of people about having him in as many things as we possibly can. We’d love to see him in things like cartoons and comics and cereal boxes and gummies. All that fun stuff. We’d like to see Shovel Knight in as many places as possible. We’re definitely in talks with people about some of those things, and really it just comes down to the fans saying what they want to see and helping us get the word out and push people who have those connections to come to us and say they’re interested in doing that too.
You’ve teamed up with Mechanical Head Studios on Cyber Shadow. Do you foresee these types of collaborations happening more frequently in the future? Do you want to get more involved with the publishing side of things aside from just working on your own games?
We have been mutual fans of the work that Mechanical Head Studios has been doing since – he’s been working on Cyber Shadow for the past like 5-6 years. We’ve been really closely following the development of that, and we’ve always talked about how cool it looks and we’d love to work with him on publishing it, but also helping out with whatever he needs. We approached him, and he actually at first said, “You know, I’m not looking for a publisher.” And we were like, “Okay. You really do want to work with us. Come on.” We asked a couple more times, and told him that we’re not looking to stiff him on anything. We’re not the kind of team that just wants to get revenue from his post-release sales or anything like that. We genuinely just love what he’s doing and want to help make it the best game it can be. And also, kind of take some of the heavy lifting away from him and do things like marketing and QA and stuff like that that isn’t always the easiest thing to do for a solo developer, which he is – it’s just one guy.
After we kind of buttered him up a little bit more, he was more receptive to the idea, and we’ve become good friends. The process has been really great. We’ve been helping a lot with the level design as well, trying to kind of fuse our sensibilities, because obviously he’s got an amazing grasp on the NES aesthetic and making the game feel really authentically of that era. That process has been great, and we’d love to work with other games in the future – publish more titles, put out cool spinoff games.
What lies ahead for the future of Yacht Club Games? Is the company involved with any projects aside from Shovel Knight and assisting on Cyber Shadow?
We’re always looking forward into the future. We all have a lot of ideas. That Dumb Ideas doc is always getting populated with things I think are cool, but maybe other people think are dumb, but we’ll see. Right now we’re focused on getting King of Cards and Showdown out to everyone, and the amiibo. So I think that’s first and foremost on our minds. But we’re always thinking about the future, and we definitely have no shortage of ideas, so we’ll be coming out with new stuff.
Lastly, any final comments for the Nintendo community?
Thanks for all your patience, and especially for your support. Hopefully you can all keep supporting us in the future, and we’ve loved every minute of your feedback and your embracing us into the community.