With the 3DS having gotten the eShop and DSiWare a while ago I had to buy Shantae: Risky’s Revenge on the DSiWare, as I never owned a DSi but am a big fan of the original Shantae. Does the downloadable sequel hold up?
From the start you are greeted with beautifully drawn and animated pixel goodness. Even on the 3DS, where DS games are stretched out by default, the game just looks gorgeous. Anybody with a penchant for 2D art in video games will love this game. The characters look cute, animate so well and move in the most adorable ways. The backgrounds are a sight to behold as well, with a lot of love for detail and color. Probably the most interesting thing about the way this game looks is that there are multiple layers of some areas that you can jump between and while you’re on one layer you can see the others in the back. It looks neat and gives a nice little preview of what there is to explore next. Have I mentioned how much I enjoy the use of color in this game? I really enjoy the colorfulness of almost everything in this game!
The sound is almost equally good. Jake Kaufman, who was responsible for the original Shantae’s music came back to create the soundtrack of the sequel as well and it shows. There are a lot of familiar tunes from the previous Game Boy Color game in much higher bit rates, with more audible instruments, and just overall improved quality. Naturally, there are new tunes as well, which hold up nicely and provide the right atmosphere for pretty much any given moment. You can actually download the soundtrack here for almost any price you want (that includes free, you cheapskate!) and I can wholeheartedly recommend it. The sound effects are cutesy, cartoonish video game sounds and pretty much what you’d expect from this game. They do their job perfectly and never feel out of place.
If you enjoyed the first Shantae you probably aren’t expecting too much on the story front and you’d be right to think that way. Risky’s Revenge’s story is of as little importance to the enjoyment of this game as it was for the original. There is a story and it’s neither stupid nor annoying, but it really only serves as a means to make you go places and do things. You are still a half Genie and Risky Boots, the naughty pirate, is still up to no good, that’s all you really need to know. The characters and the writing on the other hand are incredibly sympathetic. The Zombie gal Rotty Tops that talks about wanting to eat your brains and all that is just as lovable as anybody you can talk to in the main town. There’s some pretty funny and weird stuff to see if you just take a minute and talk to some of the NPCs at different times throughout the game.
The gameplay is kind of a mix between 2D Metroid and Jump ‘n Runs like Mario and so on and uses the elements of which it is composed really well to craft its own little subgenre, which I don’t think any other series has attempted in this way.
Shantae: Risky’s Revenge controls tightly and responsively. You can run, attack (using your hair!), dance, jump, interact with things, backdash and activate items. On the touchscreen you can switch between an overworld map view and the item select screen. On there the item you touch gets marked and becomes usable by pressing the R button. It all works nicely and I never got frustrated or felt uncomfortable no matter what I had to do. Shantae doesn’t feel sluggish in the least and the only thing I can complain about is the fact that she can only attack forward, meaning flying enemies can be a pain to hit sometimes, especially when they come fro the top. Luckily, there are items to make up for that. Dancing has changed from the previous game. You still dance to transform into different forms, but you no longer have to memorize the different dances in an Ocarina-fashion but just hold the button until Shantae performs the move that corresponds with the form you want to turn into. It’s less deep but I can see why they would get rid of the whole memorizing-thing.
So what do beautiful colors, an awesome soundtrack, lovable characters and tight gameplay make? A great game! I got roughly five and a half hours out of this game and I didn’t even collect all the hidden stuff. There’s more to see and replaying the game and getting faster/better at it is rewarded with neat artworks of some of the characters at the end of your playthrough. At 12€ (probably 12$ for the Americans out there, which is even cheaper!) I’d say this is an incredible value and if you have a Nintendo 3DS and don’t know what to download on the eShop I highly suggest you get Shantae: Risky’s Revenge. Even if you haven’t played the predecessor. I mean: you attack with your hair.. YOUR HAIR!