Title: Shantae – Risky’s Revenge : Directors Cut
Platform: Steam, PC, iOS, DS, Dsiware

Reviewed on: Windows
Genre: Platformer, Puzzle, Metroidvania
Players: Single player


Written by Whistler 3rd October 2014
















Going back in time to somewhere around 1997, Matt Bozon and his future wife created the character Shantae, from there Shantae slowly developed into a fully-fledged Gameboy Colour platformer by Matt and WayForward Technologies (the guys that brought us Duck Tales: Remastered) eventually being published by Capcom.

No idea what Shantae is?
I’m not surprised and I had no idea myself to be honest, as the title is renowned for its obscurity seeing as Shantae didn’t release until a full year after the Gameboy Advance had already hit the shelves.


Oddly enough while Shantae was fairly well received across the board (except from Game Informer but nobody likes them anyways), it never saw a sequel for eight whole years after the series’ inception largely due to Matt Bozon having difficulty finding a suitable publisher for two cancelled Shantae titles.

Shantae: Risky’s Revenge was released as a DSiWare title (Nintendo’s digital download games) on the DS and eventually saw its way onto iOS and Steam.


























Insert obligatory ‘does it live up to the hype’ introduction here,

Shantae: Risky’s Revenge sees players taking the role of Shantae, half genie and part time belly dancer who is tasked with the protection of her home, Scuttle town.
During the annual Relics hunters expo Shantae’s nemesis Risky Boots crashes the party and makes her get away with a mysterious lamp; now it’s up to Shantae with the guidance of her fellow compadres to hunt down three magical seals before Risky can infuse them with the lamp and unleash her plans, whatever they may be (but I’m sure they’re evil).


Shantae can be best described as a Metroidvania platformer with light puzzle solving elements as you go from one side of the map to the other gathering items and abilities to progress into key areas using Scuttle town as the central hub for restocking on items and getting some pointers from the locals (that are just about as useful as the villagers in Castlevania 2: Simon’s Quest). It’s a relatively simple process where you’ll be given a loose direction to head in, you find the next npc to give you new directions, enter the area’s dungeon, beat boss, grab magic seal, rinse and repeat (though there are usually some fetch quests thrown in between). Though I should mention that it does take a bit of getting use to grasping the layout of the map as areas in the overworld are present in a multi-layered style where you have to jump off specific direction pads to navigate making exploration a little perplexing at times.


Gameplay while not being all that ground breaking does utilize its tropes marvellously combined with some very enjoyable aesthetics. Shantae can run, jump, use magic and seems to have been trained by the Belmont family with her whipping skills as she utilizes her hair to do so. Along with this Shantae gains three different forms as you progress through the game gaining you newfound abilities that allow you enter areas once thought unreachable where she changes via a rather seductive dance (I knew the belly dancer bit was important). With the monkey form’s ability you can climb on walls, the elephant form allows you to smash through stone blocks and the mermaid form coming with the obligatory swimming ability (granted I did enjoy this as it feels very reminiscent of the old school platformers like Spyro).


























While of course this encourages backtracking I couldn’t help but not really care for doing additional exploring outside of looking for the next key item as (mostly due to the map layout) I had already strolled through the areas several times in the past and just really did not feel like repeating the same walk-about for a fifth time just in case there happens to be a rock I can break with the elephant or a gap I can cross as the monkey. Sadly it is, while small, a let-down that exploration and backtracking is more of a chore than a rewarding experience but I’ll admit I’ve never played many metroidvania-esque games so I would more than freely admit that the genre might just not be my cup of tea.

The platforming in Shantae however is solid, while you don’t see if being utilized much until you start traversing the dungeons it makes for a perfect balance of challenge and enjoyment while not being as ball crushingly difficult as others like Super Meatboy or 1001 Spikes.


Shantae’s gameplay didn’t necessarily keep me hooked however the overall presentation most certainly satisfied my requirements to play. While I played the Steam version which is pretty much a straight port of the iOS version (I don’t believe it added much other than an extra mode) the game is visually stunning for a 2010 DS title, sporting lush backgrounds and silky smooth, lively animations.
Though for the love of god don’t play full screen or large windowed as the game pixelates horribly going beyond its original size and loses both the smooth frame rate and causes visual tearing.


























While I tend to avoid mentioning the soundtracks for games so as to avoid showing how little I know when it comes to sound design, the soundtrack composed by one Jake Kaufman (best known for his amazing work done for DuckTales: Remastered, Contra 4 and Shovel Knight). Each track is full of life combining a catchy beats with very organic Arabian sounds giving that extra oomph to the world as you explore.


It’s fairly obvious that Shantae: Risky’s Revenge coming to Steam this late after its original release is Wayforward testing the waters for their two Shantae sequels The Pirate’s Curse and Half Genie Hero that are currently in development and should be releasing relatively soon this year.

While I’ve been fairly on the fence with S:RR I can guarantee you that for the average price of a pizza it’s more than worth a look at if you enjoy platformers and is a perfect way of catching up what is considered to be one of the best DSiWare titles for the DS in existence.

Seriously Wayforward, if you could give me some early access or something that’d be swell.

 

Pros:    

Gorgeous pixel art visuals,

Unique multi-layered side scrolling,

Superb soundtrack,

Plenty of secrets.


Cons:   

Rather obtuse map layout,

Somewhat repetitive,

Doesn’t handle backtracking quiet as well as others.


Final Verdict,
Shantae may be a half human, half genie, but Risky’s Revenge gets more than half with 6.5/10


Written by,

Whistler


















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