Shantae: Half-Genie Hero is an incredible game that grabs your attention the moment you start it up. Starting with what will be noticed right away, the graphics, are some of the most fluid and beautifully animated that I have ever seen from a game of this genre. This should come as no surprise however as Wayforward is known for this degree of presentation. With such games such as Duck tales and Mighty Switch Force this is nothing new to them. All of the characters are hand drawn and animated in such a way that makes them feel “alive”. The characters in this game are not the only things that are impressive. Along with the characters, the backgrounds of each stage feel unique and are equally impressive. From the city streets to mermaid caverns, each level will provide plenty of eye candy for the player. The sense of scale is also really good especially for boss battles. The hand drawn art really pops in cases like this.
Moving on to the gameplay, Shantae really excels here. Much like other games in this genre you will jump, climb, and fight your way to move forward to the next area. During the course of the game you will come across areas that are inaccessible to Shantae until you gain the right transformation dance. Such transformations include a Monkey that will let you climb walls, and a crab that will let you explore under water sections. Using transformations such as these are necessary if you want to find hidden Items such as Treasures and power ups. These can potentially upgrade your heart count or unlock new features in the game. You will constantly be using these transformation dances and others dances to progress through the game. Another part of the gameplay isn’t just Shantae’s abilities and transformations, but also the level design. First off to get to said levels you will need to find a map of the next area. You can find these after completing story related tasks and from NPC’s. You will then take the maps to Sky, she will fly you to the levels using her giant bird. In the levels you will need to climb chains, jump across moving platforms, and traverse disappearing blocks. All of these familiar, but fun aspects to traditional platformer level designs. I mentioned earlier that the bosses provide a great sense of scale, but , they also provide new and interesting gameplay mechanics for the player. In some cases you will need to ring a bell to release a bomb barrel, which then you will need to climb up to so that you can use it against the boss. Another time you will need to break the shackles of a giant mermaid so the real fight with her can start. Its moments like these that are in the game that really make the game fun and interesting.
All of the music in this game is really catchy, some of which have lyrics. The music is fast paced and fits the mood and/or level perfectly. The music was never grating on the ears or annoying. The music wasn’t the only part of the sound design that was great. Occasionally during the game some of the lines in the text boxes are voiced over and they were surprisingly good. Although it didn’t happen often when it did it was always a pleasure to hear.
The general idea for the plot is your uncle Mimic is working on a new machine called the Dynamo. The Dynamo is designed to protect Scuttle town from any possible attacks. Risky Boots soon shows up and steals the plans for the device starts an attack on the town. After fending off the attack and getting the plans back, Shantae will be tasked with finding the remaining materials needed to build the Dynamo. As far as the plot goes it really isn’t bad. Most platformers have hardly any story at all so I was surprised to find that this was as involved as it is.
This is the kind of game that you will want to replay often. This is because eventually you will be able to go through the game as other characters once you unlock them. These other characters play differently then Shantae so it will continue to keep the experience fresh for you. Also This game encourages you to explore and revisit areas once you acquire the right dance transformation. This type of gameplay encourages players to come back and try to achieve 100 percent completion.
This is the first game in the Shantae series I have played and it certainly won’t be the last. Shantae: Half-Genie Hero is exactly what I enjoy about platformers. It has fun interesting characters, Strong and enjoyable gameplay mechanics, Catchy music, and not mention unlockable content to help keep the player coming back for more. The last time I had this much fun with a platformer was with Shovel Knight from a few years ago. This is why Shantae: Half-Genie Hero gets a 10/10. Keep up The great work WayForward!
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