Shantae: Risky’s Revenge – Director’s Cut (PS4): COMPLETED!

I am very much aware that I’m playing through the Shantae games in an intermittent manner and in an incorrect order. This is because of reasons I don’t have to explain to you.

After completing Yoku’s Island Express I was concerned I’d do my usual thing of failing to decide which game to play next, and spend so long flicking through games I own but haven’t played that I ran out of time to play them. Instead, I forced myself to settle on the first title that came to mind from my pile of bought-but-never-played games, which, inexplicably, was Risky’s Revenge. Who knew?

Sadly, I was all too soon back in the same predicament as before I started, since I completed it in around 6 hours.

What’s cookin’ good lookin’?

But it was a wonderful 6 hours. Shantae is a joy to control, a wonder to look at, and just about as perfect a short-but-sweet Metroidvania experience as it is possible to be. The shortness is no doubt because the original Nintendo DSi release of the game (of which this is a partially HD remastered port) was intended to be a three episode game from which only part one ever appeared, but neither the story nor the gameplay suffers from it.

Fitting between the original Shantae for the GBC (which I played here) and Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse (which I played here) it tells the story of how Risky Boots, the large-boobed pirate from the first game, steals a magic lamp which – considering you’re a half-genie – unsurprisingly is somehow linked to your genie powers. And, spoiler, the reason why The Pirate’s Curse has you missing all your genie powers. Shantae has to get the lamp back by recovering three magic seals (no, not of the fish-eating variety) which, of course, are guarded by three barons in three dungeons.

The cover art is all new HD

Before you lose your powers, however, you obtain them in this game and they’re the skills needed to unlock areas of the map. As in the first game, they take the form of different creatures you can become by dancing: A monkey who can climb walls, an elephant who can smash rocks, and a naked mermaid who can swim. In addition, each creature has a collectable and necessary upgrade to add further skills.

OH! IS THIS A PUZZLE CLUE?

Most of the characters and areas are reprised from the Game Boy Colour original game, but they’re all redrawn and reanimated to a much higher quality. Even though the Nintendo DS is pretty close to retro itself these days it still looks and moves like a “modern” pixel art platformer. Wayforward really are the masters of pretty pixels. The regions of the map are pretty limited in number, and there aren’t many different enemies, but it doesn’t really matter considering the length of the game. The exploring is good, the backtracking and dancing simplified (for the better) from the first game in the series, and it’s much, much easier – perhaps to a fault as I only died once and every boss was a walkover.

It is excellent though, and I’m very tempted to buy the special edition of the latest game in the series now. If only I didn’t have a trillion other games to work through first, eh? Including the part-completed (and also another Metroidvania) Hollow Knight. Hmm.

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Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse (3DS): COMPLETED!

The original Shantae on the Game Boy Colour (which I played on the 3DS VC not that long ago) was a lovely little platformer with some slight issues: it was very, very hard, and there was a lot of backtracking and wandering aimlessly. I really enjoyed it, but I was a little concerned the followups were going to have the same problems. Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse does not, I was pleased to discover.

Shantae and the Pirate's Curse
Maximum Spider

I picked the game up as part of that Nintendo Humble Bundle a while back and now I’ve played it I can say it’s a definite highlight of that pack. It looks incredible, especially in 3D, and fixes all of issues of the original game. There’s backtracking, but there’s an item that warps you to the start of each area and several upgrades and shortcuts you can use to speed around the place. It’s not exactly easy, especially the final area on the way to the end of game boss, but it is substantially more accessible than the GBC title. Baddies don’t take hundreds of hits, and those that do can be dispatched easier if you buy the available upgrades in the shop. I found that many could be defeated more easily later in the game using extra moves I’d unlocked too.

Shantae and the Pirate's Curse
Castlevania

These moves, like a dash, a triple jump and a down-attack also turn Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse into a Metroidvania type platformer, even more so than the (no longer available) animal morphs of the original, allowing access to new areas. There’s even a fill-in-all-the-squares Castlevania style map, and an dungeon filled with skeletons which apes Castlevania even more. As before, your hair is your weapon, and is basically a whip anyway!

Shantae and the Pirate's Curse
This bit was tricky

Hidden around the game, some more difficult to find and/or reach than others, are evil cacklebats, each corrupted by Dark Magic. A side quest, to unlock the “proper” ending, is to defeat all 20 of these creatures. I managed it although finding two of them took ages! There are also hidden squid which, when you collect four, gives you an extra health heart. I didn’t get them all, but they’re not important for the story.

Shantae and the Pirate's Curse
Filler boss

My only (tiny) disappointment with Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse was that each area borrows very heavily from areas in the first game, with most of the baddies from that returning. Yes, they’re redrawn and look incredible, but they’re the same as they were before. There are a few new ones, and it doesn’t really matter anyway. The bosses are all new (bar one, who literally tells you he’s a filler boss now, having returned from a previous game) and they’re all fun to beat.

Definitely one of Wayforward’s best games, although most of their output is pretty special. I’m really interested in playing their HD remake of the DSi Shantae game now too!

Click to view slideshow.

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Things I’ve been playing recently

I’ve not done a roundup post for a while, but I have been playing quite a lot of stuff. Regardez:

BattlefieldBattlefield 4 (PS4)

I’m not a fan of shootmans, but I am a fan of bargains, so Battlefield 4 and Battlefield Hardline together for around a fiver was a steal. Then I did an odd thing: I actually played Battlefield 4. Not only that, but I think I’m quite near the end. It’s been quite good actually, although at this point I’m finding it a little bit repetitive – enter area, snipe everyone, move on. Naturally I could mix up my play style and use some different guns but when I tried that it didn’t go well. Tanks and boats and stuff did add some variety at least. Online? No.

HYRULE WARRIORSHYRULE WARRIORS LEGENDS (3DS)

Which is still amazing. There’s more DLC this week, but in the meantime I’m nowhere near finished. I have beaten the boss on the first Adventure Map (unlocking a second) and unlocked most of the characters. It’s just so much fun – I don’t think I’ll ever tire of it.

Unravel Demo (PS4)

I’ve actually bought the full game as a result of being impressed with the demo. That and 1) it was on offer, and 2) my daughter was quite adamant I had to. She’s played the full game but I’ve only done the demo. It feels a lot like Limbo so far, albeit brighter and cuter.

Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FETokyo Mirage Sessions #FE (Wii U)

Ever since seeing this when it was announced I’ve been interested. I wasn’t entirely sure why, as I had no idea how the game mechanics would even work – some sort of cross between Akiba’s Trip, Idolmaster and Fire Emblem? Maybe? Who knows. It didn’t matter. Turns out, having bought it on release, it’s Persona. And it’s very most excellent, even if I’m only a few hours in so far. I really should get back into Persona 4 Golden, actually. Stupid Vita.

Table Top RacingTable Top Racing World Tour (PS4)

This was a free rental on PS+, and it’s not very good. Somehow, though, I’ve been playing it off and on and I’m just over halfway through the game. It makes me pine for Micro Machines and how much better that is than this, which is slow and has boring (and very few) tracks.

Assassin's Creed UnityAssassin’s Creed Unity (PS4)

I’m still playing it! I completed it not so long ago, but I’m still having fun doing side quests and mopping up all the collectables. Been a few Assassin’s Creed games since I last did that, so it’s obviously pushing the right buttons.

ShantaeShantae and the Pirate’s Curse (3DS)

So many boobladies. In eyepopping 3D! But as well as that, Shantae is a fantastic platformer with metroidvania elements. I’d enjoyed the original GBC game on the 3DS Virtual Console so when it was available as part of that frankly ludicrous Nintendo Humble Bundle I was very pleased indeed. I’m quite a way through it too, having been unable to put it down for a whole weekend, and I’ve just one main area left to clear, I think.

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Shantae (3DS): COMPLETED!

tumblr_nnqhyi80ui1svmpf2o1_400It’s been a long time. The “time played” in the 3DS stats shows I’ve spent just under twelve hours on this, but that’s spread over several months, since I started back in February.

tumblr_nnqhxtkml91svmpf2o1_400It isn’t because it’s a bad game, far from it, it’s just that every so often I’d realise I’d travelled all the way to the wrong end of the map (it loops round, but only when you’ve almost finished the game!), and couldn’t face travelling all the way back again, so gave it a break. Then, each time I picked it up again I’d forgotten where I was or what I was doing, so going back always seemed a chore.

tumblr_nnqhulodzd1svmpf2o1_400Soon I’d get back into it though, and each dungeon was well worth the slightly annoying overworld traversal, being less backtracky and more puzzley. Strangely, the bosses all got increasingly easier, with the final two being complete walkovers and the first one was almost impossible. That’s just as well, I suppose, as I never sought out the extra heart containers hidden around the map. I stumbled across one, but exploring every nook and cranny of the world is so dangerous that I avoided doing so, taking the quickest, easiest route at all times.

tumblr_nnqhy1qy5o1svmpf2o1_400Similarly, the warp squid you collect in dungeons would have reduced the backtracking, but they were too hard to find. I did manage to get enough to unlock the warps in two towns, so at least I reduce it a bit.

Having said all that, it is still a great game. It’s fun, it’s quite clever and it looks amazing. I’m hoping that the few niggles I have with it are ironed out in the later games in the series, because I want to make a start on them soon!

Shantae (3DS)

tumblr_nk52gywkz91svmpf2o1_400You know when you stumble into the eShop and you’ve credit in your account and you see a game you’d been intending to get for a while but haven’t because you’ve loads of other games to play and you “accidentally” buy it? That.

tumblr_nk6ibnsbom1svmpf2o1_400Shantae is a gorgeous looking GBC platformer, with some fantastic sprites and animation layered on top of a pretty hard platformer. It’s essentially a Metroidvania, where you enter labyrinths (which have several puzzle elements) to both rescue a genie (each of whom provide you with a new power) and recover a mystical stone (protected by a boss).

tumblr_nkdvafcbm01svmpf2o1_400So far, I’ve completed two such labyrinths, and it’s been a lot of fun. I’ve two powers, activated by dancing specific combinations of moves, so can turn into a monkey who can scale walls and an elephant who can smash through blocks.

tumblr_nki1v4sxgu1svmpf2o1_400Less fun is navigating the world between towns – it’s a long way and some of the monster you run in to are very hard to defeat unscathed. It seems you can collect warp squid to allow you to teleport from town to town, but at the moment I can’t, and things are compounded by poor signposting. I’m told where to go, but not how, meaning I can spend half an hour going in one direction only to end up in the wrong place and have to backtrack. A bit annoying.

But Shantae can shake her pixel bottom so it doesn’t really matter.