Shovel Knight: King of Cards is the latest as well as the final campaign for Shovel Knight Treasure Trove from Yacht Club Games. As the title implies, this new campaign features King Knight as the main character and introduces a new card game into the Shovel Knight universe, while still featuring the platforming elements that the series is known for.
King of Cards serves as a prequel to Shovel of Hope and tells the story of how King Knight came to join The Enchantress and her Order of No Quarter by defeating the three Joustus Judges. Traversing throughout four different areas, King Knight encounters several allies and some familiar faces on his journey to become a true king.
King Knight starts out with a basic dash that turns into a spin jump when hitting walls, platforms, and enemies. This can make platforming tougher at first until you’ve had some practice. Enemy placement can also be used either to your advantage or detriment depending on your timing. This dash and spin combo also has additional effects such as pushing, going through, or getting rid of specific obstacles. At first, I found this basic attack to be strange due to how depending on where you use it and which direction you’re going, it doesn’t always seem to work as intended, but once I understood more about platform placement I was able to dash and spin my way throughout plenty of different levels.
Although useful in a variety of ways, the dash and spin isn’t the only weapon at your disposal. You can also obtain heirlooms, which are different types of weapons you can use for when dashing and spinning aren’t enough. Each heirloom must be purchased with medals you’ve collected from different levels and must be used by themselves (dash is turned off) in a small section before you can use them at your leisure. These heirlooms all cost a certain amount of vigor when used as well, so you have to manage and restore you’re vigor since you can’t use these heirlooms endlessly.
As mentioned earlier King Knight must defeat three Joustus Judges so he can become a king. Joustus is an easy to learn but hard to master card game where two players face each other while moving each others cards and collecting up to three gems on the board. If the board is filled before all gems are collected, then the player with the most gems wins. Cards all have different directions they can push or be pushed in, which are highlighted by arrows. Cards that oppose these arrows won’t work successfully except in certain conditions. There are also a few different obstacles and card abilities introduce throughout the course of the game, such as space blocking boulders and cards with bomb abilities that can destroy them. The loser must forfeit one of their cards to the winner, but it can be won back, and players having a tough time can always practice on the airship. Playing Joustus isn’t actually necessary to complete the campaign, as the judges are actually fought against in combat like any other bosses, and is more of a fun mini-game for the plot to loosely revolve around.
Overall, Shovel Knight: King of Cards is an enjoyable experience and a decent end to the Shovel Knight Treasure Trove collection. It may not be as beloved as some of the other campaigns introduced in the past few years, but it’s easy to see how much care was put into it when it could have just been rushed as the last part of the collection. The card game it introduces provides some interesting new insight into the world of Shovel Knight as well as a great way to wind down after some intense platforming. If you’re a Shovel Knight, retro platforming, or card game fan, then I recommend trying it out.
A code was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this article.