Shantae's first outing may have some balance issues yet it still remains a pretty fun game.
The First Shantae game was an extremely late Game Boy Color game that came out when almost no one cared about the device it was released on. Until a sequel to this came out I knew nothing about the series at all. Since then I’ve been a general fan of what Wayforward does. Seeing what they were doing at this point does show off that they’ve continued to make the style of game they enjoy making. So I thought it would be worth playing through this game again and put my thoughts down as a review. As always let's start off with a quick recap of the story.
As the game starts we quickly get thrown into a chaotic situation. The port town is under attack by the nefarious pirate Risky Boots. Only our hero Shantae seems to be the only person around that can stop this attack. After rescuing her uncle Mimic she learns that Risky is after the parts to make a steam powered death machine. Turns out 4 ruins hold the key and it’s up to her to obtain the relics to save the world.
The story is fairly basic but it works. The real focus of the game is mainly the combat with a few puzzles on the side. Shantae’s main offence is her very durable hair that can whip away any foe that gets close. As the game continues she can get access to a variety of upgrade moves. Like a spiral kick or dash attacks. These are kind of useless although they do a bit more damage the amount of time it takes to use them meant I just used the standard hair whip attack a lot. A bunch of items are also available to make your life a bit easier like a health potion or even some fireballs. Yet her real unique ability is gained after the first dungeon.
Shantae can transform into an assortment of forms. This gives her skills to overcome platforming challenges or puzzles. The first one obtainable is the monkey form. Which has the ability to climb up any walls that don’t have spikes on em. Each dungeon is built in a way that requires you to use these transformations in some way. Boss fights also make you use transformations to succeed as well. After you finish each dungeon you don’t really need to use them much other than to undercover any secret areas.
While this kind of feels like a metroidvania it doesn’t really require you to explore at all. Sure that’ll make things a bit more difficult but unlike other similar games I didn’t have an urge to seek out that many hidden upgrades. Some of the ways you use items to overcome obstacles is neat. As an example the item that spawns a thunder cloud can fry a machine that then lets you get an upgrade. The fact that all the transformations other than the Elephant don’t have an attack till you find it is a very odd choice. Time spent transforming back to normal Shantae usually meant I got hit. Which is not good especially early on since this game can be quite difficult.
Overall this game has an amazing presentation to go along with a solid base. For a GBC game it does some cool looking stuff with the perspective and the lighting of each environment. That even affects how tough enemies are since they take more hits at night. Yet things don’t quite seem balanced to well. Everything may be huge and very cool looking visually but that also means you’ll be spending a lot of time just trying to get them out of the way. Most areas are very narrow so you can’t really avoid fights. Which starts to get a bit repetitive as the game goes on. Especially since you will have to go back though areas you’ve been already a few times.
Still I enjoyed my time with the game. It has some flaws but I found it was still fun to play through. Doing a quick proof read of the review again really highlights that this first attempt had quite a few flaws. Yet I still enjoyed playing this via the 3DS port Wayforward did. So If you like classic 2d action platformers I think you’ll find a pretty good game here.