Shantae: Half-Genie Hero Review: Don’t Call It A Pooptoot
For full disclosure, I personally put $15 into the game’s kickstarter which was the amount needed to get the game.
Release Date: December 20th, 2016
Platforms: PC, PS4, *PSV, X1, & Wii U
Kickstarter is an interesting place. You’re essentially giving money to funds someone else’s idea. Shantae, however, isn’t a new idea at all. She has been around since 2002, with her second game releasing in 2010. In between 2012 and 2013, Wayforward even announced the third and fourth entry in the franchise. One of which was a kickstarter that received about double its initial funding goal. It’s been three years since that kickstarter, but Shantae: Half-Genie Hero is finally out. This fourth entry serves as a sequel, as well as a small reboot for the franchise. As the title suggests, the game is about a half-genie named Shantae. Shantae lives and watches over Scuttle Town as its guardian. The story here is that the genie world is in trouble, and it’s up to Shantae to save it from its impending doom- all while helping her uncle build his newest invention: the Dynamo; a machine that will keep all monsters and pirates at bay. As usual in Shantae, the plot more or less takes a back seat, and the game is filled with witty dialogue, and a few jokes that break the fourth wall.
The core gameplay hasn’t changed. Shantae’s way of attacking is using her hair as a whip; eventually, she’ll use her transformations to get around, and the game is full of platforming. However, that last bit about the game being full of platforming is now more technical than it was before. The dungeons are gone in favor of longish levels. These levels usually have three or four segments to them, with each segment being separated by a save room. At the end of every level there’s a boss, and once that’s done there’s a new transformation waiting for you as a reward. Due to the way that the game handles difficulty, some levels are sort of tough to get through, but at the same time dying is never a big enough threat if you play your cards right. Right after the first level of the game, you should have enough to buy an item that decreases damage taken by halfー a great example to show that health isn’t really that big a deal.
It should be noted that just because of the fact that there are only a few levels in the game, and because of the fact that there are no dungeons, doesn’t mean that the metroidvania elements are gone. This game has more transformations than previous entries and with the way the game works, you’re bound to find a new hidden item every time you gain a new ability. Sure, it’s a tad bit tedious; but the game makes sure your abilities are always in use. There have been plenty of times where I finished a sidequest the moment it started just because I already had the item they were looking for. And as is to be expected, the music is as great as ever with the tune played in the factory slowly becoming a new personal favorite of mine.
When you boil it all down, it felt like the usual Shantae gameー albeit, with a ton of transformations to constantly keep things fresh, and a lack of dungeons. Sure the game is a little on the easy side, but between the game’s writing and tone, expecting a challenge outside of the last level or two seems a bit much. It’ll certainly be interesting where Wayforward goes with Shantae after this because, as noted earlier, she’s been on a comeback trail. All of her entries have been on handheld devices, while this one (Vita aside) is available only on HD devices.
+Amount of transformations