Shantae has become a successful platformer since its debut in 2002. The antics of the hair whipping half-genie heroine have now made their way to this generation of consoles. Building upon the style of her previous adventures Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse offers a new approach to the purple hair diva while retaining all of her charm.
Here’s what I liked:
Personality — Shantae, her friends and the entire supporting cast all exude their own personal charm. No matter if the character is one-dimensional or complex they all interact and build upon one another in interesting ways. Making the story and character development a light-hearted journey with a decent amount of depth.
Gear — Due to her heroism in her previous adventure, Shantae no longer has her genie powers. To rectify this, she comes across unique pirate gear that enables her to fight and traverse the world in new ways. The gear you acquire to progress doesn’t always perform in its traditional use; making for interesting moments of finding different ways to utilize the tools you are given.
Bosses — The boss encounters are engaging and a major highlight of the experience. Before the battle starts, you are greeted with the name of the baddie and their sub-title, which is usually a humorous anecdote about the boss in question. Despite them relying on simple patterns, they are still quite challenging, and like most of the characters in the game, they also exude personality.
Approachable — Like the classic platformers that inspired it, Shantae spikes in difficulty. You could be breezing through the game, and then suddenly be completely thwarted by a boss or level. While the game does its best to gradually increase the difficulty, things get challenging early on. To offset this you’re given a variety of items and stat boosting equipment. If a boss or section is putting you through the ringer, all it takes is an assortment of the right items to get you through. Or you can refine your reflexes and power through on skill alone. The choice is yours.
Here’s what I didn’t like:
Sprites — I’m aware that Shantae, and her world, are scandalous at times. But the sprites for most of the female characters are in poor taste for what is rated as a children’s game. The females frequently have their breasts bouncing around as they move and talk. Though it has no barring on the gameplay, it deters from the overall experience, especially during serious conversations.
Backtracking — There is a fair amount of backtracking in Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse. That alone isn’t an issue, but when it’s compelled with arbitrary fetch quests it becomes problematic. There are times where you will enter a new area only to be sent back to a previous location to fetch an item from an NPC. It happens so frequently that you can expect to return to you ship within minutes of every new island you discover.
Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse embodies the spirit of classic platformers while furthering its own identity as a franchise. Though there are some missteps throughout the journey, Shantae shows that she ages like a fine bottle of wine and only gets better with time.
Score: Reader’s Choice
Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse developed by WayForward on Xbox One. It was released on March 16, 2016 for $19.99. A copy was provided by WayForward for review purposes. Click here for information on XBLA Fans’ new scoring system.