Shovel Knight devs combine Castlevania with old-school Zelda in new game Mina the Hollower

Mina the Hollower is the next game from Shovel Knight studio Yacht Club Games, and it looks like an unmissable mix of the original Zelda and Castlevania games. 

As you may have guessed, the 8-bit adventurer stars Mina, our mouse heroine and a storied Hollower – basically a scholar who studies the earth and its resources. Brandishing her trusty whip, Mina heads to Tenebrous Isle to investigate disturbances which have disabled the Spark Generators she invented and installed, and the story descends into its Gothic horror roots from there.

Mina the Hollower is described as a proud “celebration of games both old and new” and a “love letter to handheld gaming,” specifically the Game Boy Color era. It’s got the whip combat of Castlevania and the dungeoneering of Zelda, and it’s elevated by that unmistakable Yacht Club charm. 

The Castlevania inspirations only get more prominent as you dig into combat. Mina’s whip attack, for instance, “goes pretty far, but it takes her a moment to ready the attack,” which is a hallmark of the pacing for Castlevania’s action. Mina also wields a collection of items like throwable axes and daggers, and you can augment her abilities further with collectible and equippable trinkets. Controls are old-school too: move with the D-pad, attack with the A button, and burrow (or briefly jump) with the B button. Burrowing also makes you temporarily immune to most attacks and lets you access underground areas, but you obviously can’t dig forever.

Mina the Hollower

(Image credit: Yacht Club Games)

Curiously, Yacht Club says Mina the Hollower may remind some players of Bloodborne, and other than the game’s enormous cast of monsters, the clearest connection here seems to the bones that Mina uses for money and EXP. You can get more bones by defeating enemies, opening chests, and finding other secrets, but “there will be ways to lose your bones,” which will sound familiar to fans of FromSoftware’s games. 

The most impressive element of Mina the Hollower is arguably its commitment to the 8-bit aesthetic. It uses a 256×144 resolution, which is smaller than Hollow Knight but wider than the actual Game Boy, with 8×8 tiles limited to just four colors apiece. And while it does modernize the look, its sprite art is purely 2D with no scaling or rotation. 

Yacht Club’s latest is still “in the thick of production” according to director Alec Faulkner, and it’s only just launched its accompanying Kickstarter (opens in new tab) campaign. To the surprise of no one, it’s already surpassed its initial goal. Yacht Club says it’s funding “the majority” of the game itself, which suggests the Kickstarter is mainly being used to fund extras like merch, offer early pre-orders, and involve fans through development updates and backer feedback. 

Mina the Hollower doesn’t have a final release date just yet, but its Kickstarter delivery date estimates December 2023. 

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