2D Platformers are ten-a-penny in the current market. Regardless, Shantae: Half-Genie Hero is more than just an average clone, and it’s an established series with cult status among fans. The latest in the series was first backed by Kickstarter in 2013, raising nearly double the target amount of $400,000.
As you might have guessed, the game centres around Shantae, and the titular character can transform into a number of different animals as she attempts to dance her way to understanding her past. The dancing is actually a key part of the game, as she transforms by harnessing the rhythm of the night. Earlier titles had forms including elephants and monkeys, while the sequel expands on the range with a number of new animals to choose from. (Shantae also has a hair-whipping attack which is pretty deadly.)
Sequin Land has been threatened by an impending evil, and it’s down to you to save the day by dancing your way to the bottom of things. The Kickstarter dollars look well spent at first glance. The HD sprites are crisp and appealing, while there’s usually a lot happening on screen at any time. You’ll need fast reflexes, and while the presentation might suggest a simple game, it can be devilishly tough. Difficulty spikes didn’t always match the pacing of the story, although the most experienced gamers probably won't have too many troubles along the way.
The score is catchy, which makes sense considering the main characters predisposition to move to the beat. It’s colourful and frenetic, although backtracking is a major part of the game as the main quest is open ended, allowing you to tackle it as you see fit. There’s a heap of collectables to find along the way, and most will be hard to grab without the full range of animal forms.
The zany humour might not be to everybody's taste, but it doesn’t take itself seriously, and it was enjoyable for me. You can customise your genie with abilities and relics, allowing for a bit of individuality and choice as you choose the ones that best fit your style of play. It’s not really an in-depth system, but it’s still a welcome addition.
There’s a wide array of enemy models, as well as bosses that often take a bit of ingenuity to beat. The game is interesting to explore and master, while there’s a clear story despite the minor issues with progression. Was my inner pedant annoyed by the number of typos found in the game? (The answer is; off course!) Regardless, it doesn’t spoil the the gameplay experience, which was compelling enough to last through the relatively short playtime. There are also bonus chapters and alternative characters thanks to Kickstarter stretch goals, and it’s a real blast while it lasts.
It’s not a genre changing title, and there are a few small issues that hold it back from getting a perfect score. Even so, it’s way better than your average mobile port, and it’s recommended if you’re looking for something to take up a rainy afternoon or two. It’s another Kickstarter success story, and it’s a brilliant platformer.
Final Verdict: Glass Half-Full 4/5
Shantae: Half-Genie Hero at CeX
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