Beautiful visuals, lovable characters, and near-perfect gameplay
It's over before it really begins
Eight years. That’s how long it’s been since Shantae has headlined a game. While many gamers missed her first dance on Game Boy Color, it was received warmly by those who weren’t jumping on the Game Boy Advance, and it showed that there were still tricks developers could pull off with the old hardware.
But it took eight years for WayForward Technologies to return to the half-genie girl who should have been a mainstay. Was it worth the wait? Did the developer get it right again? The answer to both questions is a resounding “yes”. Shantae: Risky’s Revenge is available for download, and if you own a DSi, you owe it to yourself to download this game.
Shantae: Risky’s Revenge returns players to Scuttle Town, following the events of the original Shantae. Risky Boots hasn’t been heard from in awhile and all appears quiet, apart from the occasional monster horde that Shantae has to fend off. There’s also a yearly event in which Uncle Mimic brings out one of the treasures he’s found and auctions it off. Unfortunately, he accidentally brings a useless old lamp this time, and as he’s trying to put it away, Risky Boots breaks in and steals the lamp, claiming it is more powerful than the townsfolk have been led to believe. She then successfully runs off with the lamp, and in order to stop her dastardly plan, Shantae starts a journey to recover three mystical seals that will make the lamp… do whatever it is the lamp does.
While that may sound like a basic plot, the characters really sell the story. Every main character and many of the NPCs ooze charm when Shantae interacts with them. The game even manages an interesting twist at the end that may change future games in the series.
Risky’s Revenge is a platformer adventure in the mold of Castlevania or Metroid. Players take control of Shantae as she journeys across Sequin Land, fighting monsters with her magical hair. Yes, her main weapon is her hair, which she whips at enemies. She is also able to buy magical spells– such as fireballs and “Pike Balls”–to help her along her quest. As she adventures, she discovers magical dances that allow her to transform into different creatures. There are only three transformations available in the game– monkey, elephant, and mermaid– but each are used extensively, and often you’ll find a secret early on and be unable to access it until the proper transformation is found.
The game is a nice fit with DS. The graphics are gorgeous, once again showing that WayForward knows how to get the most out of the hardware it works on. Small graphical flourishes, like water dripping from the ceilings of caverns (with accompanying sound effects), do much to cement this game as one of the prettiest on the system. While there is some reuse of sprites for townsfolk with slight palette changes, every main character has its own distinctive style that sets it apart. The level of detail in this downloadable title is on par with many full-priced titles.
Unfortunately, Risky’s Revenge is short. While I didn’t find every last secret in the game, I was able to finish it in just four and a half hours with most of the powerups. This game was originally going to be an episodic series of downloads on DSi. While that plan was scrapped in favor of a single downloadable release, the ending does feel like a setup to a much larger story arc. Granted, this isn’t a full-length DS game with a full-length price to go with it, but the ending will leave you wishing for more and wondering what’s going to happen next.
Risky Revenge‘s soundtrack is phenomenal. Even with diverse settings, each music track complements the location you’re in and seamlessly transitions into the next track as you travel the various locations. The sound effects suit the experience and help give the characters that charm I mentioned earlier. Presentation-wise, there is nothing bad to be said about the game.
Eight years was a long time to wait, but now that Shantae is back we hopefully shouldn’t have to wait eight more for the next game. While it may not be a full-length experience, it is an experience that should be had. Don’t miss this one.