Shantae: Risky's Revenge - Director's Cut Review0 Comments
Reviewed on: Wii U
Also available on: PC, PlayStation 4
Shantae: Risky's Revenge - Director's Cut is a solid platforming game with one big problem: It's a prequel to Shantae and the Pirate's Curse.
See, Risky's Revenge, initially released for the Nintendo DSi in 2010, is a good action title. But Pirate's Curse, first released for the Nintendo 3DS in 2014, is significantly better. Its sprites are bigger and sharper (especially in the HD version of the game on Wii U, PC, and Xbox One), its locations are more varied and interesting to explore, and its soundtrack is funkier.
The level of improvement between Risky's Revenge and Pirate's Curse illustrates WayForward's talent as a studio, of course, and makes me all the more excited for Shantae: Half-Genie Hero, whenever that should come out. However, praise for Pirate's Curse doesn't hide the fact Risky's Revenge feels, well, dated.
Is it worth picking up, though?
Sure. Particularly if you're interested in Shantae's history and evolution as an up-and-coming platforming star. It's not perfect, but it still contains plenty of color, joy, and hair-whipping good times. Risky's Revenge also offers one thing Pirate's Curse admittedly lacks: Shantae's ability to shape-shift into animals with cool powers.
As the game's title suggests, Risky's Revenge begins with Shantae's pirate nemesis, Risky Boots, making big trouble for the denizens of the seaside hamlet Scuttle Town. The swashbuckler steals a mysterious lamp from Shantae's Uncle Mimic, who warns his niece of the lamp's dangerous powers. Shantae sets out to collect the three seals that power the lamp before Risky can grab them.
Shantae: Risky's Revenge takes place in Sequin Land, which is a large, interconnected area. The more you fight and explore, the more powers you dig up. In turn, these powers can be used to unlock new areas.
If this quick-and-dirty description of Risky's Revenge sounds like a Metroidvania game, that's because Risky's Revenge is a Metroidvania game — of sorts. It's not nearly as long or involved as the likes of Super Metroid or Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, nor does it have half as many nooks and crannies, but it's still quite fun to unlock new abilities, then use them to open up fresh paths in old areas.
Shantae also commands an interesting skillset thanks to her half-genie heritage. Her standard method of attack involves whipping her ponytail at enemies. It's probably unbelievably hard on her neck, unless she's pumped up her neck muscles to a ridiculous degree. Either way, she doesn't complain.
You can also purchase more traditional magic spells in the game's hub town, including a fire spell and a pike ball that rotates around Shantae and whacks any enemies that get too close to her. All of Shantae's spells, as well as her standard whip attack, can be upgraded with the jars of magic jam hidden throughout the game.
But Shantae's most interesting skillset is her trademark animal transformations, which she undergoes by learning and performing magic dances. The monkey transformation gives Shantae the ability to shimmy up walls and move quickly. The elephant transformation lets her stomp around and bash boulders blocking her way. The mermaid transformation allows her to explore underwater passages unhindered.
All these spells and abilities add up to an action game that's admittedly fun to play, though not without its problems. For example, the map system for Shantae: Risky's Revenge is inadequate and rather confusing. This is thanks in part to the fact Shantae can jump in and out of background layers in certain areas, a mechanic that wasn't repeated for Shantae and the Pirate's Curse.
Frankly, it's not missed. The layer-hopping in Risky's Revenge is an admirable experiment, but it makes areas more difficult to navigate, and secrets more frustrating to find.
The "Director's Cut" portion of Shantae: Risky's Revenge - Director's Cut is lacking, too. The most noteworthy addition aside from a new costume for Shantae is high-definition character portraits that look out of place against the game's highly-pixelated graphics. Each portrait also takes up half the screen, which is pretty distracting.
Shantae: Risky's Revenge - Director's Cut is still worth a go if you haven't played the game on any other platform, though you definitely ought to try Shantae and the Pirate's Curse before you travel back in time. If you enjoy Pirate's Curse and want to dig deeper into Shantae's origins, Risky's Revenge won't steer you wrong, despite its noticeable flaws.
There's no doubt Wayforward is moving on an upward trajectory as far as the Shantae series is concerned, though. Bring on Half-Genie Hero!
The review copy of this game was purchased by the reviewer.
A mild blast from the past.