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Shantae: Risky's Revenge

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Shantae: Risky's Revenge

Shantae: Risky's Revenge

Image © Wayforward
The first Shantae game was a delightful platform game developed for the Game Boy Color, but it was released at the cusp of the Game Boy Advance's birth and was lost in the new tech shuffle. Happily, Wayforward has given the half-genie girl a second chance with Shantae: Risky's Revenge for the Nintendo DSi.

Like its predecessor, Shantae: Risky's Revenge is a 2D platformer that mixes action, magic, and exploration. Its vivid animations, rich soundtrack, and sense of humor also make it one of the best DSiWare offerings available.

Developer/Publisher: Wayforward
Genre: Platforming
ESRB Rating: E10+
1200 Nintendo Points

THE BASICS: A Half-Genie in a Whole Lot of Trouble

Shantae is a half-genie who lives in and protects a seaside hamlet called Scuttle Town. When Shantae's relic-hunting uncle unveils his latest find, a magic lamp with mysterious powers, the nefarious pirate Risky Boots crashes the joint and steals the lamp away. Shantae sets off to retrieve the lamp and stop Risky's plot.

Shantae: Risky's Revenge is an action game infused with a smattering of exploration. As the half-genie progresses in her quest, she scales tall heights and slithers into small caverns to pick up health increases and "Magic Jams" that grant her access to devastating spell components. She can even upgrade her main means of offense--her plucky purple ponytail.

Shantae's trademark trait is her inborn ability to change her shape. As Shantae unlocks specific transformations, more of Sequin Land becomes explorable. Becoming a monkey, for instance, helps her run faster, jump higher, and squeeze into tight crevices. Moreover, each of Shantae's animal alter-egos has an upgrade that can be uncovered for additional powers.

When Shantae gets stuck, she can retreat to Scuttle Town to pick up wisdom from the townspeople and her friends.

PROS

The Graphics are Gorgeous -- Shantae: Risky's Revenge is, in a word, charming. Shantae herself moves slickly and is put together with a dozen little animation touches that make her one of the liveliest game characters in recent memory. The world she navigates is no less compelling: Enemies sneak, snicker, and slither. Even Scuttle Town is jumping. Typically nondescript non-player characters look and feel alive. The female characters admittedly, er, "jiggle" quite a bit. The game earns its E10+ rating.

The Game has a Sense of Humor -- Pretty much every character in Shantae: Risky's Revenge says something that is guaranteed to make you smile. It's a nice change of pace when you actually want to talk to the characters living in town instead of skipping over the usual drivel dealing with monsters and melodrama.

The Gameplay is Deep -- The platforming in Shantae: Risky's Revenge changes according to Shantae's transformations. Having some trouble with the tricky jumps in one section? Try turning into a monkey and then laugh in the face of gravity.

It Boasts a Great Soundtrack -- Make sure you turn up the volume for percussive Arabian themes mixed with the rustling sounds of dark forests and deserts. Pay particular attention to the frogs and crickets that populate the game's dungeons and caverns.

CONS

It's Short -- Far better to have a game that's short and sweet than long and tedious. Shantae: Risky's Revenge is the former, but it's still a shame to only get six to eight hours of gameplay out of a title--and that's if you take your time searching for items.

The Map is Inadequate -- Shantae can buy a map at the start of her adventure, but it's not very good. It gives a vague overview of Sequin Land instead of identifying Shantae's exact location. Given that a lot of navigation is done through underground corridors--which aren't mapped at all--prepare to feel a little lost once in a while. Especially when the game gives little indication of where Shantae is supposed to go next.

CONCLUSION: Dream of Genie

Shantae: Risky's Revenge is a bit of a pricey download at 1200 Nintendo Points, but it'll likely register as one of your more memorable gaming experiences this year. A vote against Shantae is a vote against fun--and you're not anti-fun, right?
Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
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