• WayForward is a game developer that is very small, and without deep pockets. Most of the titles put out by them are licensed games like Batman: The Brave and the Bold, any given Barbie game, or Thor. It’s often rare that they get to make original titles that have enough care and attention given to them like Shantae. And for the latest entry in the franchise, they had to turn to Kickstarter to raise the money for it. Not only that, but they also needed the help of another small developer, Inti-Creates. Together they managed to make something that will satisfy most platformer and Shantae lovers. But It’s obvious that the scope of the game was heavily reduced as a result of only just procuring the funds for the game, and none of the extra stuff that they had planned. What is there is pretty good though.

    The game is set up as a sequel (Or is it a soft-reboot?) to Pirate’s Curse, as the game does seem to acknowledge characters from that game. Although it also features pretty much every relevant character from the series in totality. But this time, the Genie Realm is in trouble, and Risky Boots is also up to no good. But each level in the game also feels like an episode of a TV series, as it really has that ‘menace of the day’ feel to it. So every level cycle is episodic in that sense. The basic gameplay of the Shantae is there, with Shantae still being able to whip her hair at foes, or transform and find secrets in levels with dances. But while the core gameplay of the series is preserved, the game has stripped even more metroidvania elements away, leaving a game that’s structured more like Castlevania Dracula X: Rondo of Blood, while still loading levels with a tone of secrets, making it also feel more like Mega Man X. So while levels are initially linear, you will be revisiting them to find either new powers or quest items to find even more quest items to unlock access to newer levels. While this does simplify the game to lower the barrier of entry for newcomers and younger players, my dream of a full-blown Metroidvania are a bit dashed.

    The game is still loads of fun though. And they are accentuated by playing host to the series best 2D graphics and animation to date. It’s amazing to see in motion for each individual frame have lots of detail to it. I’m almost certain this is where most of the Kickstarter money for the project went. Unfortunately, the game was only just barely funded. As a result of this, it lacks full voice acting, with the voice-overs themselves sounded somewhat muted. There’s no volume option for them either. And if you have the PlayStation platforms, there’s no cross-save feature, at least at this time. The Vita version specifically has trouble maintaining even 30 frames, as it will often dip into 20-25 territory depending on how many enemies/particle effects are happening on screen. There’s no touch-controls whatsoever either. Even on the Wii U version. At least the HD console version sport a flawless 60 frames that’s quite the treat. The soundtrack at least is really good, possibly being series composer, Jake Kaufman’s best yet for the series. At $20 USD digital or $30 USD physical, the game is still a treat for series fans or newcomers, even if it didn’t quite reach the heights it’s Kickstarter had tried to do. Perhaps now that WayForward has an engine, maybe the next game in the series will reach those heights, especially if sales numbers go up seeing as physical releases will give it more visibility. But you otherwise can’t go wrong, and come much recommended.

    Shantae: Half-Genie Hero - Review
    A great platformer that once again shows Wayforward's ability to make a good game, but it's failure to earn more money through Kickstarter cut down on it's potential.
    Our Score8
    Positives
    • Very colorful and beautiful looking game.
    Negatives
    • The Wii U version doesn't make use of the touchpad other than being a second screen.
    • Voice acting is partial, and is a bit muted.
    8Overall Score
    Reader Rating: (2 Votes)
    -1.3

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