Many fans celebrated when Shantae: Risky’s Revenge released on DSiWare in 2010. Since it was the long-awaited sequel to WayForward Technologies’ Game Boy Color cult classic, Shantae, it was treated as a big deal. Well, at least as big of a deal that a DSiWare game can be. Five years later the game is seeing release on a bigger platform, PlayStation 4. Will Shantae: Risky’s Revenge finally get the success it deserves, or have the past five years been rough on a game that was already a bit of a throwback?
The first thing players will notice after booting up Shantae: Risky’s Revenge Director’s Cut is that it is a game that was not originally designed for PlayStation 4. It was designed to be played on a small DSi screen, not a high-definition television. So while the game doesn’t take up the full screen of your TV (you can put a border to fill the blank space, or even stretch out the pixels if you are a monster), it still looks gorgeous. Seeing these sprites blown out may be off-putting at first, but players will quickly get used to it and there is still a beautifully animated game to look at.
If you are a fan of Metroidvanias, then you are in for a treat with Shantae: Risky’s Revenge Director’s Cut. Just like its Game Boy Color predecessor, Shantae is a tough-as-nails platformer with exploration elements throughout. Combat feels great as Shantae can jump and whip her hair at enemies with ease, but death is only a few attacks away. If you are not ready for a challenge, then Shantae: Risky’s Revenge Director’s Cut isn’t for you. This is a game where you will die often.
The deaths in the game never feel cheap, however. Each death is due to the player either making a mistake or playing too aggressive. There is always something to be learned from each death, even if it is as simple as not rushing through levels. The game is split between an explorable overworld and several difficult dungeons that can be explored. There are plenty of small areas to be explored, and secrets to be found. The world feels like a living, breathing place with NPCs placed throughout.
Characters from the first game, such as the evil pirate Risky, reappear so fans of the series will get to see some nice callbacks. That said, the story isn’t overly complex, so this is a fine entry point for the Shantae series. Similar to the first game, Shantae can dance to transform herself into different animals. Each of these animals have their own abilities and add to the exploration aspect of the game. For example, as a monkey Shantae can climb walls, while as an elephant she can smash through areas that were previously inaccessible.
Shantae: Risky’s Revenge for PlayStation 4 isn’t just a port, and it earns its Director’s Cut moniker with a slew of new content. New high-definition portrait art has been added to dialogue sequences, these pieces of art look fantastic and add a nice touch to the game’s presentation. Also new to the mix is fully customizable controls, an unlockable Magic Mode that features an alternate costume, and changes to the game’s fast-travel system.
The gameplay might be top-notch in Shantae: Risky’s Revenge, but sadly it isn’t the most accessible game. As touched on earlier, this is one of the hardest platformers on the market. Perhaps the hardest sections in the game are the several dungeons. These all end with an intense boss fight, that are as memorable as they are difficult.
It is worth noting that the game features quite a bit of flirty humor, and that the character portraits show quite a bit of skin. While it makes sense considering that Shantae is a belly dancer, it kind of goes against the kid-friendly colorful platformer that Shantae looks like. Nothing is too risque in the game, and nothing came close to be offensive. But, for those looking for a more conservative game, this isn’t it.
Another highlight of the package is the soundtrack. Shantae: Risky’s Revenge has a catchy original soundtrack, and one that will be stuck in your head well after you have stopped playing. The music also does a great job at enhancing the gameplay, as boss fights feel like more of an event thanks to the epic music that plays in the background.
Overall, Shantae: Risky’s Revenge Director’s Cut is the best version of an already great game. While it may not be for everyone due to its difficulty, those that persevere through the game are in for a treat. Shantae feels great on PlayStation 4, and hopefully future titles will see release as well!
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 4 code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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