Title: Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse
Platform: 3DS, Wii U
Reviewed on: 3DS
Genre: Platformer, Puzzle, Metroidvania
Players: Single player


Written by Whistler 12th February 2015



















Ye vast me hearties, raise the sails or I’ll hoist you overboard!

Sorry about that, just getting in character.

But finally after ages it seemed and an even longer wait for those of you like myself in Europe, Wayfoward’s bubbly dancing half-genie hero is back on 3DS and Wii U just this time without her powers.


Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse follows on from the previous instalment where Shantae has lost her powers and to make matters worse the Bullet Baron intends to claim Scuttle Town for his own devious plot.

Bullet Baron ain’t the only problem as Shantae makes an unlikely alliance with Risky Boots to defeat a returning evil in the form of the Pirate Master, a powerful pirate who was only bested by the Genies of ancient time. After Risky had sapped Shantae of her powers in the previous adventure it seems the magic has spread across the land and is slowly resurrecting the dead captain of the seas.




















So of course it’s up to Shantae to defeat the lairs of evil and collect the secret maps to discover the Pirate Master’s hidden grave all whilst battling baddies, delivering key items and gaining new abilities.

Of course following on from Shantae: Risky’s Revenge, Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse is a Metroidvania platformer with light to medium puzzle elements. However Wayforward haven’t just copied pasted some spirtes into new maps (well they have in some areas); Sequin Land is now no longer one giant interconnected world that was a hassle to traverse back and forth. Instead it is traded off for a collection of hub islands that the player can travel to by use of Risky’s Tinkertub which allows for the world to be just as vast yet accessible by removing the overall tediousness that comes with backtracking.

Whilst been broken in smaller sections, the islands of Sequin Land offer just as much if not more content with plenty of secrets, hidden goodies as well as interaction, and much like its predecessor you’ll be traveling back to previously explored islands to dig out more treasure with your newfound abilities.


The good ol’ Metroidvania structure has seen some nice polish as once unreachable areas, such as a high ledge, have been crafted with a lot more clarity so you’ll more than likely remember these locations rather than feeling like you have to re-explore every nook and cranny for that one heart container.

Thankfully while most devs would likely use Shantae losing her genie powers as an excuse to just slowly shovel them back, instead Shantae proves she can be skilled in non-magical means with special item abilities such as a trusty blunderbuss for hitting far away targets or a captain’s hat for gliding to harder to reach areas come at a steadier pace without things getting dull or overwhelming.


The world of Shantae has also been improved upon with almost as much care and attention for the world and its inhabitants as there is for artwork and animations. A massive step up from Risky’s Revenge, environments are far more varied with a deliciously disgusting amount of detail poured into every screen from snowy mountains, burning hot sands and lush forests. The dialogue is as lively as ever whilst retaining that self-aware charm that doesn’t take itself too serious allowing for the series’ incredibly light hearted humour to shine through keeping the adventure fresh and enjoyable. Granted it becomes a bit too self-aware at times though I did particularly enjoy the Squid Baron’s post boss syndrome arc as he becomes aware of his impending recurring boss filler role.




















Accompanying light hearted adventure is of course Wayforward’s glorious signature art style along with returning sound magician Jake Kaufman’s addictively energetic tunes. Whilst I’ve seen plenty of gorgeous pixel art games in my time Shantae’s latest adventure certainly ups the ante with plenty of silky smooth animations, rich sprites and eye drooling detailed 2D graphics that are further enhanced with multiple parallax layers to give you a truly living world to venture through. Much like the previous title Kaufman (DuckTales: Remastered, Shovel Knight, Contra 4) returns with his catchy upbeat style combining classical Arabian and Egyptian soundings with top notch energetic bombastic chiptunes. While there aren’t that many tracks each carries a weight to it that perfectly encapsulates the accompanying world or scene that adds that little bit more oomph to the game where I can say for certain I’ll be going over Kaufman’s bancamp to listen to them over and over again.


But of course the real question is, how is the gameplay?

Gameplay plays out much the same as it did with its predecessors and family of the action adventure genre, through exploring each island’s dungeon players will discover each of Risky’s missing booty that coincidently allows you to solve the dungeon’s challenges and defeat the residing boss à la Legend of Zelda. As previously mentioned these items each allow access to once unreachable areas but also lend themselves to combat and platforming that overall improves the enjoyment to be had and also make backtracking far more streamlined.

Platforming in Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse is relatively balanced, besides the occasional platforming section the difficulty curve comes naturally and I only found it frustrating towards the final level where curve does get a bit brutally vertical.




















All said and done, Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse is a fun platforming romp with a colourful world and light hearted adventure set to full blast with some amazing sound. If you’ve yet to get yourself aquinted with the overly infectious optimistic magical belly dancer then now’s the time with plenty of gameplay to be had in this fun as hell adventure.


And now the wait for Wayfoward’s long awaited Shantae: Half-Genie Hero begins once again.


 

Pros:    

Balanced Metroidvania gameplay,

Solid platforming,

Awesome soundtrack,

Enjoyable characters.


Cons:   

Average story.


Final Verdict,
Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse is less a curse and more a blessing with a 8.5/10.


Written by,

Whistler














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