You play as Shantae a half-genie who is woken one dark night by a mysterious voice warning of an incoming threat. Upon visiting her uncle, Mimic, she learns about his latest invention, Dynamo, which will help keep their village safe. In the same moment, the blueprints for the machine are stolen by a Tinkerbat and only Shantae can save the day.
The game originally started life in 2013 as a Kickstarter project by indie developer WayForward and is the fourth entry into this now well-established series. Visually stunning with its anime art style the game looks like something from the minds at Studio Ghibli. With this latest 2018 release, we see the game get a number of upgrades bundled together in an ultimate edition. What’s great is that anyone who has previously purchased the game in either form will also receive the Jammies mode and Blaster Master Zero updates free of charge as part of the summer surprise!
Shantae is an action platformer at heart with a shed load of added sass. Main levels are stitched together by a central hub and overworld map system. The hub acts as your home village and gives access to a wide range of shops, the shops allow you to spend in-game currency in order to unlock the many upgrades. Talking to the villagers acts as a mechanic to tell the game’s story, meeting new faces and allies who help in your quest for peace.
You start the game with a standard move set consisting of a basic jump and attack combo – attacks are fairly unique with a swift hair whip to defeat the hoard of enemies ahead. The first level eases you into the action offering a taster of platforming action which is finished off with a boss battle. The screen zooms out and you are left to fight Risky Boots in her massive flying pirate ship, it really sets the tone and scale of this adventure. Once the attack pattern is remembered winning is inevitable but Risky Boots manages to escape and so our story continues. Shantae is tasked with collecting the remaining components to complete the Dynamo machine and prove her status as the village genie and protector.
In progressing through the main campaign you are awarded new dances which gift the power to transform into a number of different forms each possessing unique abilities. Most of these are used to unlock new areas in levels that were previously unattainable. Level design reminded me of classic Sonic games, fast-paced action with a number of differing routes to reach the end goal. Some levels require you to head upwards using lifts and rails while others will have you backtracking over your footsteps. Boss battles are epic in size and scope helping to mix up the action.
The main story is a fairly short affair but has a strong narrative and tells it well. The great thing with this new ultimate edition is that it comes with all of the previously released DLC, costumes and modes – Hero mode, Hard Core mode, Pirate Queen’s Quest, costume pack, extras gallery and hall of fame. The different modes tend to tell the story from a different point of view which is a great idea and keeps you playing well after the original credits roll.
Shantae is a great action platformer bundled together in an amazing ultimate edition adding in almost every area. The graphical style is really top-notch and gameplay offers enough challenge for even the most seasoned gamers. If this is the first time you have experienced the series you are in for a treat.
Beard Score: 7/10
Genre: Action, Adventure, Platformer
Format: Steam, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One