Shovel Knight: King of Cards on PC
Back in 2014, a little indie developer known as Yacht Club Games released a Kickstarter project by the name of Shovel Knight. Five years, a few amiibo, and a Super Smash Bros. cameo later we have finally reached the end of the original Shovel Knight Saga with King of Cards.
This final expansion title for Shovel Knight features new levels, music, and so much more that it feels like a full game. Better yet, this title exhibits the same excellent platforming and tight gameplay that you would expect from a Yacht Club Games title. King of Cards is no doubt one of the best platformers to release this year.
It’s certainly not like any other platformers that have come out in 2019, but it will likely feel quite familiar to Shovel Knight fans.
King Knight’s attacks and movement options differ immensely from the characters in past releases. Yet, some of the ways that your character controls and interacts with the environment brings you back to the original.
The way King Knight ruthlessly rushes through enemies with his shoulder bash makes you feel like an overwhelmingly powerful brute. Then, the Super Mario World-like spin jump that he goes into after a successful bash on an enemy or wall is reminiscent of Shovel Knight’s diving attack.
Just like in the original title, this maneuver helps to set up truly intricate and challenging platforming sequences that are a real joy to conquer.
Of course, the King of Cards couldn’t truly feel like a Shovel Knight title without a plethora of additional weapons called Heirlooms in this game. And of course, they’re just as fantastically goofy as you would expect.
The Rat Bombardier launches out a rat with a bomb strapped to its back and the Dueling Glove delivers a swift slap to the face of your enemy.
If the gameplay doesn’t cause you to reminisce, then surely the music player will get you into a mid-2010s mood. Many of the classics are still there, but the remixed versions are a chiptune lover’s delight.
The most memorable track is the glorious-sounding revision of In the Halls of the Usurper which is fully redone in a major key to give it a more regal feel.
The title of this remix is In the Halls of the King to signify that Pridemoor is still in charge of Pridemoor Keep since King Knight’s burly shoulder bash had not yet removed the King from his throne.
The battle against King Pridemoor and all the bosses for that matter are exceptionally challenging and require at least a certain level of mastery over King Knight’s abilities. The game doesn’t pull any punches and that makes landing your well-timed should bashes feel so rewarding.
If you’re looking for another challenge, then check out the Challenge Mode after you finish the game. A good chunk of it is replays of boss battles but held within this mode are these gems of platforming tests that will push the skills you’ve acquired throughout the game to the limit.
Also contained within Challenge Mode are a few Jousts duels. This isn’t a highly complex card game by any means. The standard board is a square three-by-three grid where the goal of the game is to get your cards onto two or more of the gems which are randomly placed on the board each duel.
Each card can push others in certain directions based upon the locations of arrows on the edges of the cards. It’s incredibly easy to pick up after a few games, but a deeper focus on Jousts as a mandatory part of the story would have been an enjoyable change of pace.
The card game of Jousts is the focus of the King of Cards story and is the driving force for King Knight to begin his quest. Unfortunately, it takes a back seat throughout the game.
The story follows the self-centered King Knight from his humble beginnings up to the time that he was recruited into The Order of No Quarter by the Enchantress. Along the way, you’ll run into many old friends that you’ll recognize from the original Shovel Knight.
During a time of peace and prosperity, King Knight hears of a grand Jousts tournament. He takes it upon himself to hunt down and defeat the Jousts Judges and thus be crowned the King of Cards.
Of course, he never truly ends up playing any of these Judges in a card game and instead deals out royal beatings.
Along the way, King Knight hilariously seems to barely understand what’s going on around him. He’s the worst kind of person that you would ever want to be a leader, but that’s just part of what makes this story so hilarious.
King Knight is just a whiny self-absorbed child who is ultimately a terrible person. Fortunately, his idiocy and dumb luck offer enough comedic fodder throughout the approximately eight to 10-hour campaign that they make this unlikable character tolerable.
Ultimately, King of Cards has fantastically hilarious writing and incredible platforming. The loving mother and angsty teen dynamic between King Knight and his mom is fantastically entertaining.
However, gameplay-wise, it feels the most like Shovel Knight out of all the expansion titles and I mean that in the most positive way possible.
Shovel Knight was a groundbreaking title in the world of indie games and King of Cards is just another reminder of how great this franchise is.
I would have liked more of the card game Jousts, but I don’t consider it a horribly glaring omission since the focus of these games is precise platforming.
It’s incredible that Yacht Club Games has finally reached the finish line on their most popular title, but it was a worthy sendoff for the first saga of a franchise that revolutionized the indie video game space.
Challenging, yet fair.
ConsNot enough of a focus on Jousts card game.
King Knight isn’t likable or relatable in any way.
Dec. 10, 2019
Yacht Club Games
Yacht Club Games
PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PS3, Wii U, 3DS, PS Vita
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