Tuesday, May 8

Review: Shantae - Half-Genie Hero Ultimate Edition [Nintendo Switch eShop]

Somehow, even as a huge platforming fan who has consistently heard great things about the Shantae series, I’ve just never had the opportunity to check it out. I’d heard such consistent positives about it that I was actually a bit concerned to finally check it out, afraid that expectations could really end up sinking it. Diving into the very deep end with this Ultimate Edition I’m happy to report nothing could be further from the truth, as the Shantae Half-Genie Hero Ultimate Edition delivers a wonderfully-animated feast of platforming goodness that is varied, challenging, and consistently full of surprises.

Over the course of the game’s main campaign you’ll need to work your way through a series of levels that throw a pretty solid mix of action, platforming, and puzzling at you. One moment you’ll be trying to dodge and counter an enemy and the next you’ll be trying to trigger a temporary platform to then grab a ring and ride a conveyor belt up to another area. After you’ve cleared a handful of stages you’ll then typically end with a boss fight and these are typically a pretty wild affair, requiring you to be quick, cunning, and a little bit resourceful as their various phases progress. Always keep in mind that you have fruit and other items available (in some modes) to you for a quick heal if you’ve made solid progress, though in general the checkpoints are generous starting a boss fight from scratch when you’ve just about beaten them can be a big step back.

Where the Ultimate Edition part comes in is similar to how the Shovel Knight Treasure Trove works. In addition to the main mode there’s are Hero and Hard Core modes that offer tougher variations on the main quest but then another 5 modes that change up the core game in some pretty significant ways. Pirate Queen’s Quest will have you play through as the villainous Risky Boots, Friends to the End challenges you to use 3 different characters’ abilities and swap them out to progress, Ninja Mode is somewhat self-explanatory, Beach Mode is a bit odd since you’ll need to stay mobile trying to be outrun a sunburn death, and then Officer Mode changes things up with a blaster and an ability to shift barriers on the go. While the general layouts and ideas behind the levels are roughly the same between modes in each you’ll be asked to flex slightly different gaming muscles, especially if you’re determined to push and find all of the game’s secrets.

Though I’d say that the asking price for the whole package is very reasonably given the sheer volume of gameplay don’t misunderstand, the bosses and general levels you’ll play through in each mode are mostly identical. That said, the style of play in each mode can differ substantially. Once constant throughout, which at times seemed a bit much, was the scantily-clad Shantae and her female friends (and enemies) who even pose it up a bit. I suppose that’s all in the eye of the beholder but I’m not sure if Risky Boots being in her bath and only covered by bubbles is really necessary.

Overall, assuming you don’t mind the variations on a theme, this is a remarkably deep and well-made package for what amounts to being a budget price per title. Each major mode takes the same base elements and then adds a unique layer of its own, making the challenges feel quite different. There’s an enormous amount of punny humor in the dialogue that prompted some laughs, and it’s pretty incredible how well the mix of platforming, action, and puzzles blend together into one package. If you’ve somehow held off on Shantae until now this Ultimate Edition is an incredibly good place to start.

Score: 9

  • A great mix of platforming, action, and puzzles to test you
  • Pretty amazing art all around
  • Once you account for all of the very different modes of play the asking price is a steal
  • The Friends to the End and Officer modes are more substantially different in style, though the others are hardly identical to the main mode

  • While I appreciate the quality of the art it borders a little on the pervy side at times
  • If the re-use of assets and bosses between modes, regardless of whether the style of play is different in each mode, bothers you there’ll be much less game to enjoy