Editorial: Shantae’s Progression

Just seven years ago Shantae: Risky’s Revenge released on the Nintendo DSi after an eight year lull in the franchise ever since the first game, Shantae which released on the Game Boy Color back in 2002. Since then, Wayforward has also released Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse and Shantae: Half-Genie Hero which have both gone on to undergo medium success. However, when having a quick glance at the Metacritic scores it seems like each game resides somewhere in the B category between 80 and 85 with a slow escalation upwards (this occurs when all the scores between each version are added and divided to find a rough average). Does this mean that the “Shantae” games are actually increasing if ever so slightly? Or are they just staying current enough with the year to warrant a B? To answer this, Adeki takes a trip down memory lane to examine the three most recent Shantae games released (also the only Shantae games Adeki has ever played since he still has yet to play the first one) to see whether or not Wayforward is improving on their design since 2010.

Wayforward really likes Squid Baron for some reason. Honestly, he is kind of annoying.
A disgruntled Squid Baron broods in the distance.

First up, Shantae: Risky’s Revenge was released in 2010 on the Nintendo DSi to moderate success. The title was then re-releaed as Shantae: Risky’s Revenge – Director’s Cut on Steam, the PlayStation 4, and the Wii U. Although fans of the original title were happy with the return of the titular character, after closer examination more issues seemed to arise when the excitement had dissipated. The most common complaint among most players was that the map system on the bottom screen of the console seemed to be useless in player’s quests to 100% the title. This eventually led to the complete removal of the map system by the fourth game leading to a more linear stage progression that still contained an emphasis on exploration. Other complaints included the design of the game when it came to searching through levels along with the currency system, an issue Adeki himself commented on in his review of the most recent title, proving it to be an issue that appears in all three titles. Other than these issues, the title was still warmly received due to the wonderful animations and visuals the game had to offer along with decent gameplay.

Long answer: Most definitely, yes.
Short answer: yes.

Next up on this road trip to the present is Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse which was released on the 3DS in October of 2014 and the Wii U in December of 2014. Right off the bat one of the easiest improvements to note are the upgraded visuals and animations which look fantastic on a 3DS or television alike. The game also boasts a larger and more robust soundtrack for each of its smaller worlds, a different approach to how the game’s world is laid out in comparison to the previous title. In fact, the game’s design in terms of exploration and finding collectibles is a large improvement over the previous title aside from 2-3 obtusely hidden collectibles (not that Adeki is bitter or anything). Though some did not appreciate this approach to be enjoyable and instead found themselves missing the one large open world instead of smaller sub-worlds which many saw as a hassle to travel through. Unfortunately, the game still has problems currency-wise, and some did find the desert’s “stealth” level to be more frustrating than refreshing when it came to diversifying the gameplay. Overall, it just seems like Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse is somewhere between a full-blown improvement like Shantae: Half-Genie Hero and the quickly-aging Shantae: Risky’s Revenge. This does not make it a bad title at all, but it can be frustrating to play a game and still find that complaints about the previous title have yet to be remedied.

But she believes in herself, that is what counts.
Shantae is not even close to having that attack hit.

Last to join the battle is the most recent title Shantae: Half-Genie Hero which released in December of 2016. Thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign, Wayforward was able to once again upgrade the visuals from 16-bit to 2D animation which looks really fantastic on the big screen. Not to forget that the soundtrack for this title is also fantastic and the best soundtrack the “Shantae” franchise has seen so far. Originally this section of the editorial was going to turn out a little differently, but just last week there was actually an update to the game called “Hard Core Mode.” While this mode does not change the review of the game as it was for the base game, it does actually fix some of the complaints that were originally supposed to be found here. The most notable is the change in how magic attacks are much more useful than they originally were in the base game. Not only this, but there is also a change in boss attack patterns and an increased amount of enemies as well as the damage they do. Not only does this make the game much more difficult, it also keeps the difficulty much more consistent than it was originally as it seemed to have odd spikes in different spots of the game. One change that goes unmentioned in the patch notes as it a result rather than an added bonus is that because more enemies appear, more gems appear too which greatly aides the game’s upgrade system. In fact, a difficulty level right between the main game and “Hard Core Mode” would have been perfect as the game’s standard difficulty. But alas, instead the base game finds itself to be underwhelming and although “Hard Core Mode” does show progression in the “Shantae” franchise it is not a replacement for the flawed base game. Only time will tell if Wayforward will released another “Shantae” game which listens more closely to the complaints of players and tries to refine the formula rather than completely changing it. Hopefully it does though, because hot damn these games are fun to play.

So that is it for this editorial, for some reason Adeki just really felt passionate about the past Shantae games compared to the most recent since he has been playing it a lot. What do you think of the Shantae games? Or have you not played them and are now thinking about it due to Adeki’s passion? Maybe you though the main message of this editorial was not clear enough and you found it to just be Adeki rambling. Whatever it may be, make sure to leave a comment below and let us know what you think!


  1. I love the Shantae games! I’ve been playing them since Risky’s Revenge was released on 3DS, and love the art, music, gameplay; just everything about them. They are all play pretty similar, but then so did Mega Man games, so I’m not complaining. And for comparison, they’re not quite as good as Shovel Knight, but for the originality in the characters and setting they really deserve attention.

  2. @Lusipurr: I aim to please a couple times per year.

    @Dancing Matt: Agreed! I really like the games as well, I was just thinking about how they’ve changed over time. For me Shantae: Half-Genie Hero was the best one so far, I just hope that they continue to listen to fans and refine their formula now that they’ve seemed to lock one down in comparison to the changes the past three games have gone through.

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