Shovel Knight: King of Cards is One Expansion to Rule Them All
King of Cards will rule Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove with a decadent style when it launches later this year.
As soon as I got the green light from the Editorial Team here at DualShockers that I’d be one of the staff writers going to and covering PAX East 2019, there was only one studio that I had to see while I was there—Yacht Club Games. I simply love Shovel Knight and each free expansion Yacht Club has done to fulfill their Kickstarter stretch goals. It’s a franchise near and dear to me alongside millions more.
The final expansion was set to be released this April, but hit a delay earlier this year. A delay is never a fun announcement, but if it means the game will be better for it than it is definitely the right call. Going to PAX East gave me a perfect opportunity to try out the final playable knight expansion to help tide me over until its inevitable release this year.
I got to play one of the 30+ levels that Shovel Knight: King of Cards will have. This is the most levels that any Shovel Knight game has ever had. This might sound like a quantity vs. quality situation, but Yacht Club Games assured me that they are pouring an immense effort into polishing these levels to make them the absolute best they can be. What I played was an earlier level, I assume, based off the Pridemoor aesthetic and the boss battle with King Pridemoor himself (Griffoth-eyed fans will recognize the king from the original Shovel Knight campaign).
Right off the scepter, King Knight controls vastly different than his other playable knight counterparts. It took me a few screens to wrap my head around King Knight’s bouncy disposition. His main move is a shoulder charge which you use this to bash into enemies or walls. Once the decadent dandy makes contact, he swirls into the air and spins. Landing on another enemy or a breakable object will bounce King Knight back into the air. The whole idea is to keep the bounce going, hopping all around the level. After grasping the key to King Knight’s movement and combat, I was happily dashing and spinning all over the place.
The level’s length was shorter than a typical Shovel Knight level. This one consisted of only three checkpoints and one of them is right before the boss battle itself. This didn’t make it a breeze to bounce through though. There were plenty of secrets in the walls to bash and just-out-of-reach collectibles I had to figure out how to nab. It felt right at home in the saga of Shovel Knight games with its level design. Even looking back on gameplay, I was spotting secrets I missed and possible techniques I could use to speed up my run through the level. It’s great to see in one level of King of Cards that the quality is on par with the rest of Yacht Club Games’ work, not suffering due to a higher level count or developing Shovel Knight Showdown at the same time.
The show floor was pretty loud and I couldn’t hear Jake Kaufman’s latest rendition of the Pridemoor theme. Thankfully, YouTube exists and I checked it out after the show with my headphones on. Kaufman is at it again with a peppier take on the catchy tune. It matches the personality of King Knight and I can’t wait to hear the rest of the soundtrack.
When I got to the boss battle, it reminded me of the way I try to execute boss fights as good ol’ Shovel Knight with the all-mighty down thrust. Using the shoulder charge to launch into the air, I kept airborne for almost the entire fight. Bopping off the head of King Pridemoor felt fantastic as I dodged his attacks to try and lure me back to the ground. I can see boss fights having this platformer-like element that elevates the fight to more than just mashing attacks on the boss. With so many levels in King of Cards, I am curious how many boss fights there will be. If they are as fun as this one, we are all in for a treat when the game comes out.
It’s a wonderful thing to see Yacht Club Games stay faithful to their Kickstarter stretch goals, even six years later. Back at PAX East 2013, Shovel Knight made its debut to the world. Six years later, Yacht Club Games is near the same spot on the show floor where their journey began with the final two expansions for their little blue knight who could. It’s exciting to see the booth evolve from one game on display to three and see Shovel Knight evolve from one game to five. King of Cards looks like it will be a wonderful swan song for the original game and will bring a definitive era at Yacht Club Games to a close. I cannot wait to see what they do next.