Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse is a 8-bit styled platformer game now available on Xbox One. It is the third game in a series, the first was Shantae in 2002 and the second was Shantae – Risky Revenge in 2010 which was later released on PlayStation 4 in 2015. Shantae and the Pirates Curse is the first game of the series to make it on to Xbox One and it is a great addition to the system.
In Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse you play as Shantae who is a half-genie who has unfortunately lost her genie powers. The game follows on from the first and second games so if you haven’t played those then the story might not be so clear. I had not played the previous games but was still able to enjoy the story. Shantae’s hometown is unfortunately under attack and so it is up to Shantae to fix it, and to do so she has to team up with her previous arch-enemy Risky Boots. Risky Boots escorts you to six different islands on her pirate ship, where you’ll have to face lots of threat in order to defeat each island’s boss and cure the place of evil. Although Shantae has lost her genie powers, along the way she finds Risky Boots old items, such as a gun and a hat that allows her to jump across larger gaps, that help you get through the rest of the levels.
Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse is very much like a platform game from the 1990s. It has the same pixel art style but with the addition of modern cartoons for cut scenes between characters. The characters are great although their outfits are a little on the skimpy side! We can forgive this on the basis that they live on a tropical island though!
Although the graphics are pixely the locations are still great to look at with very nice backgrounds and a varied array of locations, from dark monster filled caverns to luscious sandy beaches. All in all its great, especially to fans of retro styled games. It has a great soundtrack too, it sounds just like something straight off the Megadrive.
The gameplay of Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse is very simple, so anybody can pick up and enjoy. You use the left stick to control your character’s movement, A to jump, X to attack and B and Y do special skills that you will unlock as you play. Shantae moves very smoothly and her attack is very unique, she spins her hair to whack enemies with! Each screen is filled with enemies who are all well designed but very difficult to kill. Lots of them will jump around the screen in random directions while others fire dangerous projects out of their mouths which can be very hard to dodge. You start out with only 2 hearts – you will find more by exploring the areas and collecting cute squids that can be taken back to town, and when you have four can be made into a new heart. Even with more hearts however its still easy to die and you’ll find yourself having to restart again and again. You won’t mind though because the game is just so enjoyable to play. I should also say that there is no auto save here, so if you die you will go back to the nearest save point. Save points are an old man who asks you if you want to record your progress. Make sure you say yes every time you see him otherwise you will have to be repeating a lot of the game! He appears fairly often but you usually have to get through entire dungeons without having save points. Luckily there is always a save point just before the boss.
Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse is a joy to play. If you are a fan of old school side scrolling platformers like Metroid and even Aladdin, then you will definitely enjoy Shantae. Everything from its graphics to its difficulty is straight from the 90s, but luckily for us brought into the future. There are not many other good platform games available on the current consoles so Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse makes a welcome addition to any collection.
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