• WayForward has always been an interesting company. While they usually end up making licensed games that often are quality experiences, there have been some dropped balls. Their original IP output has been fairly consistent in it’s level of quality though. Despite some setbacks, Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse is one such case. The wait was definitely worth it.

    The game takes place not to long after the previous game, Risky’s Revenge. Now stripped of her magic powers, Shantae goes on with her life as a mostly ordinary girl. Although her hair is still a veritable weapon of destruction. Of course peace doesn’t last long as Scuttle Town is under siege again, but even after taking care of the problem, Shantae goes on a new quest. This time it’s to prevent the return of Risky’s old master. Gameplay largely remains unchanged from Risky’s Revenge, with the game still playing like an action platformer with a Metroidvania-lite set-up. Although since Shantae no longer has her magic, she can’t transform or use attack magic. But you can still buy Pike and Super Pike Balls. Guess those were never magic spells despite using magic energy in Risky Revenge. Other items are also used similarly by use of the touch screen, with no way to bind shortcuts to the control layout. Other buttons are reserved for abilities that are tied to items or gear found in the game’s five dungeons. Equipment like a pistol are primarily used for puzzles, but they can also be used offensively.

    One thing that’s nice about the game is that the level design is improved from the previous game, which cuts out needless backtracking to get hidden collectibles. Dungeons don’t require players to come back later to get something, and only contain secrets based on the items you would normally find in them. The waypoints in between them do however, so be sure to go back and test out your abilities to expose secret passages. The game also uses Scuttle Town as a sort of hub, with each island being a smaller explorable area to roam around in. While this saves on time spent and kills the need for warp squids, I can’t help but feel their omission is still sorely missed. This is because there is no quick way to get back to a specific location in between the island’s docks and their dungeons. While you do have a quick warp item, it only lets you return to the ship. At least the distance between the dock and the various dungeons isn’t terribly long, but sometimes getting through some areas can still be a chore.

    The soundtrack is great as usual from Jake Kaufman, and there is some voice acting, although it’s mainly just little bits like grunts and name dropping. Visuals make great use of the 3D and the spritework is high quality, although some sprites are still recycled from Risky’s Revenge. The game is somewhat designed for speed-running but first time players are likely looking at 8-10 hours to achieve 100% completion. The humor is as good as it’s ever been and it’s extremely goofball this time around compared to previous entries. The new abilities also lend themselves to some interesting gameplay and great speed-running techniques. The Wii U version sports HD menus and character portraits, although the sprites have only been upscaled rather than going through a complete re-rendering. The game still looks and runs great despite this. Control options are also nice as you can choose to play with the gamepad or use the Wii U Pro Controller. If you like the Shantae series or like platformers, be sure to pick it up on the eShop. Twenty bucks might seem like a steep asking price for this game, but it’s worth it regardless of which version you go with.

    Update: Review updated on 12/31/2014 regarding the Wii U version of Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse

    Shantae and the Pirate's Curse - Review
    A great platformer that showcases that WayForward has still got what it takes to make an enjoyable game, but still has some room for improvement.
    Our Score8
    Positives
    • Very colorful and beautiful looking game.
    • Goofball humor is appreciated.
    Negatives
    • Perhaps a bit too much fetch questing.
    8Overall Score
    Reader Rating: (1 Vote)
    9.5

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