WayForward’s game library is extensive, colourful, and has something for everyone, but perhaps one of their most recognizable heroes is indie darling Shantae – a sassy half-genie who fights with whip-sharp purple hair to protect Scuttle Town. This year, WayForward celebrated Shantae’s 17th birthday.
It’s been 17 whole years since I walked into a mall store, fell in love with the simple cover on the Gameboy Colour shelf, and begged my dad to get it for me so I could have something new to play on the summer days while home alone. 17 years ago I fell in love with this quirky, amazing game, with its perfect characters and exciting music. I played that game through more times than I can count.
Shantae is a half-genie, hired to protect her home, Scuttle Town, from enemies. She starts out each game primarily relying on long, whiplike hair, eventually unlocking magic and transformations to help her along the way.
By now, we have four Shantae games: Shantae, The Pirate’s Curse, Risky’s Revenge, and Half-Genie Hero. Amazingly, WayForward has never lost the nostalgic feel of Shantae, even while updating their games to keep up with the passing of time. Half-Genie Hero, which was released in 2016 after a successful kickstarter project, gave us freshly polished graphics, but still never lost that classic, nostalgic platformer feel or its beloved designs. It’s a series that’s kept a lot of fans happy since its first game – a fantastic accomplishment for any multi-title game title.
I honestly would have been happy playing any of the Shantae games during #loveindies – it was one of the few games that I was choosing not because I wanted to try it, but because I’d already tried it and wanted the chance to introduce more people to this gem. In the end, I chose Risky’s Revenge with the intention of playing through all three games available on Steam eventually.
Like the rest of the Shantae games, Risky’s Revenge doesn’t take much time to throw the player into action. You start off the game with Shantae running late for her uncle’s event. Rushing, she arrives in time and with everything in tow, but soon the presentation is crashed by none other than notorious pirate and Shantae’s nemesis, Risky Boots! Risky steals what we are assured is an incredibly dangerous magical artifact, but fortunately she needs three seals before she can use it. Time for Shantae to get to them first! The game will point out clues to you along the way, taking you in the direction of the three seals in order. There will be some puzzle-solving and wayfinding, but nothing crazy.
Unlike many platformers, Shantae’s maps and dungeons aren’t at all linear. A major part of each game is unlocking special dances, which allow our half-genie hero to transform into a variety of animals. Each unlock opens up new pathways that you couldn’t take before – a monkey will allow you to climb walls, while an elephant will let you smash or push obstacles out of the way. To ensure you don’t have to spend too much time running around the map, each area has a warp squid, allowing you to jump from place to place as needed – a great timesaver if you’re not needing to farm money.
One of the fun things about Shantae is it’s nailed a decent level of difficulty. Enemies aren’t too tough most of the time, and while the platforming can be intense at points, it’s generally approachable. Frequent savepoints also ensure that you shouldn’t have to redo much if you find yourself overwhelmed on a boss or failing to the occasionally tricky platform mechanics. The result is a game that feels fun to learn and perfect – even skilled players should find themselves enjoying the gameplay, while newcomers shouldn’t find it too difficult.
Shantae is a fantastic platformer for those looking for a classic feel in their games – it plays smoothly, sounds great, and always looks gorgeous, whether the graphics are pixel-art or the smoother, more modernized version Half-Genie Hero gave us. It’s absolutely worth a try if you haven’t played it. And if you played the original Shantae but didn’t know there’s more to look forward to, the rest of the games should make you feel like you’ve stepped right back into the world you loved on GBC.
For more on this great series, you can check out my first impressions article on Half-Genie Hero here!
Already tried and enjoyed Shantae?
Ready for some awesome news?
This March, WayForward had some fantastic news for Shantae fans – Shantae 5 has been confirmed! I was able to find very few details except that we should be able to expect it this year, across numerous platforms – get ready for a new adventure!