Shantae as a series has always been something I’ve been meaning to get involved with, as it offers the exact style of platforming that I’ve always loved from the genre. I’ve started and restarted some of the previous entries time and time again, but something always came along that sidetracked me from actually finishing it. When the Kickstarter was announced for Shantae: Half-Genie Hero, I made a promise to myself that I would actually finish this one, as the updated models and feel to the game looked incredible. And I am quite glad that I made that promise to myself, as this game was everything I had hoped it would be. Read on for our full review of Shantae: Half-Genie Hero.
Title: Shantae: Half-Genie Hero
Publisher: XSEED Games
Developer: WayForward Technologies
Available On: PS4, Xbox One, PC, Vita, Wii U
Reviewed On: PlayStation 4
Release Date: December 20, 2016
Copy provided by the Publisher for the sake of this review
The first thing that immediately jumps out to players is how vibrant and detailed the world and characters are. Doing away with the pixelated style of graphics, WayForward really stepped the level of visuals up a significant amount with the transition to high-definition graphics. I knew going in that the game was going to look pretty and quite stunning, but I was amazed at how well it actually looked in motion when playing through the various levels. Every object that you see scattered about, every character, it’s all given the same amount of love and attention to detail from the talented developers at WayForward. It’s exciting to see what they were able to accomplish with Shantae: Half-Genie Hero, and what exactly they’ll be able to do with future installments as well.
One of the greatest joys with Shantae: Half-Genie Hero is the soundtrack that accompanies each level and hub-area. It’s hard not to join Shantae as she rocks back and forth to the beat of the music, even when standing still. And when you want to transform into another form, look out! The belly dancing that Shantae performs in order to shift into one of the many different creatures she can become is amusing and rather fun to watch.. so much so that I found myself just randomly doing it throughout the time I spent with the game even when I didn’t want to transform into anything else yet. Seriously though, the soundtrack deserves all the recognition it gets, and listening to it has been a pleasure to the ears.
Combat is relatively simple. Shantae whips her hair around in order to destroy monsters, overcome the bosses in each stage, and solve basic platforming puzzles along the way. There are upgrades that you can spend the jewels you earn in each stage in order to increase the amount of damage that Shantae’s attacks do, how much damage she can sustain, how fast her hair is able to be whipped around, and other things that can enhance your gameplay or unlock new features for you to enjoy. It gives reason enough to keep going back to replay the levels in order to keep gathering more jewels for the upgrades.
With only six stages throughout the story, you’ll definitely feel a bit of repetition as you have to revisit each stage over and over again in order to keep stockpiling jewels, or accessing hidden areas. Each time you unlock a new form, you’ll want to fully explore every stage once again to see if there’s another route or path that you may not have been able to access before. There are plenty of secrets and collectibles thrown about in every single one of the stages.
It’s hard to be negative when it comes to Shantae: Half-Genie Hero. The game has a certain level of charm that is just hard to come by with modern video games, and throughout the several hours I spent with the game, I was absolutely hooked in every way possible. It will be completed in just a few sittings by even the most casual of player, with the hardcore being able to finish it in one sitting if they really wanted to. It isn’t long by any means, but it doesn’t have to be in order to be one of the best 2D platforming games to release in 2016. If you are a fan of the genre, or ever were at some point in your gaming career, I highly recommend you check out Shantae: Half-Genie Hero. You won’t walk away feeling disappointed after spending just a few minutes with it. It’s quick to sink its teeth into you!
Shantae: Half-Genie Hero will whisk you away on a platforming nostalgia trip while you platform through beautifully designed levels to a rocking soundtrack in the background. The platforming featured throughout is some of the most fun I’ve had with the genre in quite some time. The actual design of the levels is intricate yet fun to navigate, as each one holds secrets galore. Different forms that Shantae will gather allows her to revisit older levels to try and find secret areas and collectibles that you may have missed the first time through. And some of those forms are necessary to reach these areas. The game definitely offers a lot of replayability and invites players to keep coming back to past areas and levels in order to see everything Shantae: Half-Genie Hero has to offer. And since the game is quite fun, doing so didn’t feel like a chore either.