Shantae: Half-Genie Hero Review – Written by Jose Vega
Purchased copy for the sake of this review.
Why do franchises survive? Why do they endure? That’s a question many people wonder about. How can a franchise be able to survive despite not having much recognition? Such is the case of one called Shantae. It began in 2001, released for the Game Boy Color that was well received but was released during the end of the handheld’s life cycle. Despite this, Shantae would continue to thrive with two more sequels: Risky’s Revenge and The Pirate’s Curse. Come 2013 and WayForward announced that a new Shantae game would come. With the help of a Kickstarter campaign, they succeed and in 2016, WayForward releases the 4th entry in the series, Half-Genie Hero. Does Half-Genie Hero do what Mighty No. 9 could not?
Half-Genie Hero takes place some time after the events of the third game, The Pirate’s Curse. On one eventful night, Shantae gets word that the Genie Realm would be in danger. So she heads to town only for Risky Boots to invade and steal the design for the Dynamo. After driving Risky and her crew off, her uncle works on an invention that can help drive away evil threats. So Shantae goes on a journey to help her uncle get the parts needed for his invention, unaware that it’s all part of Risky Boots’ master plan.
It’s plot is what you would expect from a game like this and it’s alright in my book. It starts off simple enough but gets interesting when you reach the end. Pretty okay and a bit satisfactory to boot.
WayForward put a lot of care and love into the Shantae series and Half-Genie Hero is no exception. The game’s a platformer but has a few things that differentiate it from other games. Shantae still plays like she was in previous games and she has most of her familiar moves. Returning to the series is her morphing ability, allowing her to shape shift into one of many animals that she unlocks throughout the game. She does this by means of dancing and you can choose which animal to use. This time around, the transformations offer Shantae a lot of advantages and are necessary in order to beat the game. There are a total of 8 transformations for her to use. She also get access to additional dances that provide support.
Not only that but the game is more of a collect-o-thon than anything else. Gems are the game’s currency and you use them to unlock various abilities for Shantae. All of them are useful. There are also other items to find as well such as Heart Holders that increase your max health and a game like this wouldn’t be complete without trade sequences. Throughout the game, you will be tasked to return to previous areas to acquire items necessary for you to trade with others. All of it will culminate in access to the next area. It does get a bit tedious after a while but necessary if you plan on completing the game 100%. Boss battles are aplenty here with some requiring a lot of skill to win.
Half-Genie Hero isn’t a long game. If you just plan on beating it, you’ll complete it in roughly 6-8 hours and trying to reach 100% will net you about an hour or so more. The replay value is high here, especially for those that like to speedrun the game. For presentation, the game is awesome. WayForward did a fantastic job on it and it shows. Not only that but the game runs great at 60fps. A well done job if I do say so myself. The music needs no words. Jake Kaufman does it again delivering some great tunes. Some songs are just too good to listen to such as Tassel Town, Neo Burning Town and others. All of them are a delight to enjoy. There is voice acting as well. Christina Vee does a great job as Shantae but also as Risky Boots as well. Simply put, this game was made with a lot of love and respect and it shows.
Since this game was made possible via Kickstarter, the game also has DLC and there are several. First is Risky Boots’ Quest, taking place during the events of the game. You play as Risky Boots as she goes on her own journey to acquire what she needs so that he can rule Sequin Land. Next is Friends to the End, focusing on Sky, Bolo and Rottytops. In this mode, the three of them head inside Shantae’s mind to save her from her dark counterpart, Nega-Shantae. Last is a special costume set giving players access to three modes; Ninja Mode, Beach Mode and Officer Mode. These are what-if stories that detail Shantae in different situations and offer different gameplay. Basically this game has a lot to do and WayForward even added a harder difficulty called Hardcore Mode that will push players’ skills to their limits. You can buy all of it as DLC but for anyone that wants it all in one, they released the Day-One Ultimate Edition that contains all of it and more. The Day One Ultimate Edition is a major recommendation.
There aren’t many flaws in the game and yeah, the game requires a lot to do if you wish to complete 100% but overall, it’s a fun experience. Having played the game many times, it’s still fun. It really is though it makes you wonder if their Kickstarter did better so WayForward can bring out even more content. Imagine the possibilities.
Half-Genie Hero does everything that Mighty No. 9 could not. The game looks great, it plays great, it has great music and it offers a lot for your money’s worth. For the franchise’s fourth game, WayForward, Matt Bozon and Jake Kaufman delivered. The best part is that it’s not expensive but if you want to have everything in one, the Day One Ultimate Edition is a definite recommendation. It’s worth the full purchase price. Let’s hope these guys can keep at it and hopefully give us more… instead of ports of older games.
I give Shantae: Half-Genie Hero my highest rating… a perfect 10 out of 10. It earns my full on seal of approval.