Shantae: Risky’s Revenge
: WayForward Technologies
: Nintendo DSi, DS-XL, 3DS
: October 4, 2010
WayForward Technologies has returned their iconic mascot, Shantae, for another magical adventure. Shantae: Risky’s Revenge presents some of the greatest platforming gameplay since the days of the 16 bit console wars of the Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo. For a downloadable game, exclusive to Nintendo’s DS systems, with the 3DS included, Shantae is a game begging to be played for old fans of platformers and new ones alike.
Everyone’s favorite half-genie, Shantae has been living peacefully in her hometown of Scuttle Town, a paradise by the sea ever since she defeated the dastardly pirate, Risky Boots from nearly destroying Scuttle Town. Today, Shantae spends her days enjoying time with her uncle Mimic, who, like Shantae, loves to search for long lost and ancient relics, and her zombie friend, Rottytops. A day in the life in Scuttle Town is as tranquil as can be, but not for much longer.
An annual event in Scuttle Town called, the Relics Hunters Expo, is about to begin. Shantae’s uncle Mimic is about to unveil his mysterious new relic, so Shantae and her friends follow. The crowd at the expo can hardly restrain themselves, and are eager to see what Uncle Mimic will show off. It turns out the mysterious relic is a lamp encased within stone. It appears to be an ordinary lamp, but that suspicion is short lived. Suddenly, the expo is attacked, with none other than Risky Boots leading the daring mission. It turns out that Risky has shown up for the lamp and decides to steal it for her own. As she begins to make her escape, Shantae gives chase. She’s beat Risky Boots before, who’s to say she can’t do it again?
Shantae manages to catch up with Risky and the both have a fight, this time Risky shows off the new power of her pirate ship. This proves to be no match to Shantae, as she takes it out without breaking a sweat. Though a momentary defeat, Risky isn’t ready to give up the lamp just yet and she knocks out Shantae before she can take it back.
Waking up, Shantae finds herself in the company of her uncle Mimic. Shantae asks her uncle if the lamp Risky stole is dangerous. Though Uncle Mimic assures Shantae that the lamp isn’t, he seems reclusive about the issue too. Shantae wants the truth, but Uncle Mimic promised Shantae’s mother that he wouldn’t discuss the lamp. It turns out that the lamp is indeed capable of great power, but requires that the power be recovered to make it work. Shantae suddenly has it tough, as the Mayor of Scuttle Town fires her from her role as the town’s Guardian Genie. Still, Shantae is determined to stop Risky Boots from succeeding with her plan. Just what is that pirate planning to do with the lamp? It’s up to Shantae to find out.
A handheld game, Shantae: Risky’s Revenge can be best described as being similar to the graphical prowess of the Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo 16 bit era, though now with advanced technology the game looks superior to old school offerings from the 90s. Another game that shares about the same timeline and graphics would be Rayman for the original PlayStation. Shantae is a great looking game, and is one of the best looking games available on the DSi’s (3DS) online shop. Shantae, her friends and enemies, including Risky Boots, have highly animated sprites. Even Shantae’s animated belly dancing look clever for the hardware capacities, it’s such a visual treat to experience.
The game also features some detailed artwork that’s used when Shantae interacts with people and things in the environment. You won’t always stare at the same picture for the characters though, in fact they’ll adapt and change depending on how the characters feel. If Shantae is feeling surprised, bothered, or happy, she, and other characters, will have a picture to match as they hold a conversation on the screen. The artwork in the game is to be admired, no doubt.
Shantae also features an impressive looking back drop seen during gameplay. As you explore through the game’s various environments you’ll notice that settings in the background, including enemies will move in real time. Shantae can even travel to these backgrounds and foregrounds by jumping back and forth between them, respectively. Platformers usually feature backdrops that can’t be explored, but Shantae is able to do so freely. Not only is the interaction with these backdrops impressive, but the way they look with the foreground is beautiful. The current foreground Shantae runs through is rich with color, and the background is lighter yet equally enticing to be investigated.
As I mentioned, Shantae harks back to the good old days of gaming in terms of graphics, and the same can be said about the way it sounds. That is, the sound effects, grunts, yelps, and exclamations from the characters sound similar to the 16 bit sound processors of those old games.
Shantae also features a catchy musical soundtrack; some tracks which appeared in the first game way back on the Gameboy Color have been remade for this long awaited sequel. For each area that Shantae visits, sure enough there’s an original piece of music to match. So repetitive music is not always the case, there’s something worth listening to no matter where you go. The Arabian themed music is so good, in fact, that you might just find yourself performing a belly dance like Shantae without even knowing it.
If Shantae’s gameplay had to be associated with another game, I’d stick with the same genre and era that Shantae echoes. I’d have to say that it plays similar to Super Metroid, with a few elements of The Legend of Zelda, such as purchasing items from shops. Basically, Shantae’s world is one big area to explore, and like classic Metroid games, some areas cannot be accessible from the start. This means that Shantae will need to have a certain power up in order to advance further.
Shantae’s way of fighting is using her long purple hair like a whip. She can flick her hair at a foe, though some will need more hits than others, she can dispatch them to continue onwards in true platformer action. Controls are easy to learn and are very responsive and smooth. Typically you’ll find yourself exploring the overworld, looking for dungeons to conquer. While exploring the overworld for an entrance to a dungeon, sometimes you’ll need to complete certain tasks before the way to the dungeon is opened. In one instance, a girl has lost her dog, finding the dog and returning it to the sad girl will have Shantae rewarded with a fancy meal (since the girl is an aspiring chef), the dungeon’s gate is locked, being watched by a hungry guard, giving the meal you received from the girl to the hungry guard will open the dungeon. So this is an appealing form of gameplay that derives from traditional platforming that involves going to one place and to another, so Shantae’s gameplay allows you to want to search your surroundings for these opportunities. Of course, the point of the dungeons is to make your way through a series of challenging puzzles and enemies, until you reach the dungeon boss, which are quite challenging. Throughout the dungeons will be old wizard looking characters who act as save stations, so it would be a good idea to save your game just in case you encounter a difficult puzzle or group of enemies.
For the times you explore the overworld, make good use of your map. The map can be found and expanded on the lower screen of the DS. Similar to Metroid’s map system, you’ll be able to see your current whereabouts as well as closest towns and save stations to save your progress. It’s simple to use, though one thing it could use is a change in when Shantae travels between the background and foreground. The map won’t display the “depth” of your current location, so it leaves you with the task of memorizing the way the environment looks in order to figure out what part of the background/foreground you’re currently in.
As Shantae progresses through her journey she’ll come upon magical individuals, more than likely djinns, given the theme of the game, who will bestow a power upon her. These powers will allow Shantae to shape shift into a variety of animals such as a monkey and an elephant. Taking these animal forms will allow Shantae to reach otherwise hard to reach places. To transform into an animal, Shantae must perform a belly dance, a unique dance is available for each form. While in animal form, pressing the belly dance button again will allow Shantae to revert back to her original form. This was some of the most fun gameplay Shantae has to offer. Just when you think you may be stuck within one of the dungeons, try taking the form of an animal and look for other ways to progress. It’s such a unique and creative twist to the power up systems of old and new platformer games.
Besides Shantae’s transformations, she can also utilize a variety of items, all of which can be purchased through shops. Magic spells such as fire, ice, lightning, and explosives are all available for your disposal. In addition to purchasing magical spells, you can also purchase potions to heal Shantae should she sustain damage from enemies. This would be a wise idea because occasionally will an enemy drop a recovery heart when you defeat them, along with the game’s currency: multicolored jewels.
Risky’s Revenge can run you anywhere between six or eight hours to finish the game, which is good considering it’s a handheld platform game, not to mention a download exclusive. If you’re considering another play through of the game, you should be on the lookout for secret areas in both the overworld and the dungeons. Rewards await you for discovering a new path to take, so try looking for clues in the environment that would suggest using one of Shantae’s animal forms to move forward. These hidden collectibles can be traded at shops for in-game currency so you can stock up and upgrade Shantae’s magical abilities.
Shantae: Risky’s Revenge is one platforming game that fans of the genre should pick up. If you are one of the many gamers who grew up on classic platforming games, Shantae acts as a total nostalgia trip in its overall presentation, well its graphics, music, and gameplay is much to appreciate. WayForward introduced us to Shantae many, many years ago when the Gameboy Color was all the rage, yet since then their lead mascot hasn’t made an appearance until this sequel. With two excellent games under their belt, WayForward has proven that Shantae can hold up with the best of the rest, so it’s a shame that publishers weren’t willing to take the risk on this second project. Thankfully, this was all handled with care by WayForward, even throughout all these years when a sequel was just a concept. Here’s hoping that Shantae’s journey continues from here. For now, I encourage all DSi owners; 3DS owners included, to pick the game up and enjoy taking the role of Shantae to stop that mean pirate menace, Risky Boots from unleashing the power of the mysterious lamp!