Game Review - Shantae and the Pirate's Curse on Nintendo Wii U

Written by ThatGuyFromNI on March 06, 2015 @ 11:52 am

Shantae is one of those series that some people talk about, but not many. In terms of history I'm a total newbie when it comes to the series, as Shantae and the Pirate's Curse is the first one that I've played - seriously anyway,

*Story
As usual let’s start with the story. The story is fairly by the numbers in this case. The Pirate King is going to reawaken unless you destroy the evil lurking within various areas found on islands. You play as Shantae, who was a half genie in previous titles, but isn’t in this game because of something that happened at the end of the previous titles, I haven't played them. For this particular adventure you team up with Risky, who as I gathered from my short experiences with the first game is the main villain of the series. Together you head out to gather all of the dark magic to prevent the Pirate king from reawakening.

While the story isn’t anything particularly noteworthy, what stands out is the game’s humour. The game pokes fun at tons of stuff. Weird things in its own universe as well as pop-culture and standard game tropes. I certainly wasn’t expecting this going in, but the game genuinely got some laughs out of me. The writers did a great job in that department.

*Gameplay
If the game excels in one area it’s the gameplay. It controls damn near perfectly and it is extremely satisfying in pretty much every way you’d want it to. If you’re new to the series well, think of it kind of like a Side-scrolling Zelda game that isn't like Zelda II. Well, that’s how I’d describe this game anyway,

The combat in the game is pretty much how you’d expect combat to be in a platformer. Your main attack has you whipping your hair back and forth, and that damages the enemy apparently. You can upgrade the damage and speed of this attack with items bought from the shop. Similarly, you can also buy extra moves to do, but in my opinion they are completely useless. The dodge is pretty useless as I never had a reason to actually use it properly, and the kick is way too slow to be effective.

Other than these items you also gain new equipment when going through a dungeon. These are some of the most fun powerups I’ve used in a while. Risky's Hat stands out the most as being one of the most satisfying to use hover abilities in any game I’ve ever played. Something about the hat is just a lot of fun.

One issue which I did have was the occasional cryptic moment, They are few and far between, but there were a couple of times where I got stuck over something stupid.
One final thing about the gameplay is the existence of backtracking. Yes, there are ways to minimise it in this case, such as using flares to teleport back to the start of a stage, but you will be force to go through stuff you’ve already played at one point or another.

*Graphics
The Graphics in Shantae are a mixed bag in my opinion. The character sprites are all very nice, they are expressive and have a nice charm to them, the cutscenes have detailed portraits of the characters, which is nice too, and of course I have to mention the varied environments. It’s a small thing that I like in games. This game has a bunch of different environments. None of which stand out as super creative, but they are nice all the same.

My main issue with the graphics is how lifeless some of the backgrounds are. While they are still attractive to look at, they don’t really have much detail. The desert level is the best example I can think of. There are plenty of ways to spruce up a desert themed level, but it's just… sand. It’s not a huge issue granted, but it’s something that I did notice nonetheless.

*Sound
The Music in Shantae is… Amazingly well done. Jake Kaufman is a name I’m getting more and more familiar with due to his amazing work. Other title’s he’s known for include Ducktales Remastered, a fine game on it’s own, and my Game of the Year 2014, Shovel Knight which had an incredible chip-tune Soundtrack.

Shantae is no exception to his great work. Each song is extremely catchy and there isn’t a single song that I dislike. They all match the environments in some way, and yet they all keep the same general style. The Scuttle Town theme is one of my personal favourites as well as the boss theme. They both got stuck in my head and stayed there.

*Conclusion
So overall, what did I think of Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse? Well I think it’s fantastic. The gameplay is extremely fun, the graphics are appealing, the music is catchy, and the game has a great sense of humour. Unfortunately there are a couple of small issues I have with the game, so I had to drop it's score down a bit, but it's a solid game and one that deserves more attention.

Gameplay Rating: 9
Story Rating: 8
Graphics & Visuals Rating: 7
Sound Rating: 8
Overall Rating: 8

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Game Information

Platform
Nintendo Wii U
Developer(s)
WayForward Technologies, Inti Creates
Publisher(s)
WayForward Technologies
Genre(s)
Platformer
NA Release Date
December 25, 2014
EUR Release Date
February 5, 2015
AUS Release Date
February 5, 2015
ESRB Rating
E10+
PEGI Rating
12
ACB Rating
G
MVGL User Score
7.8
Composer
Jake Kaufman
Official Website
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