Shantae: Half-Genie Hero Review
Overall - 80%
Old-school gamers and newcomers alike will find a lot to like in Shantae: Half-Genie Hero. It's unique blend of humor, detailed art style, creativity, and platforming will appeal to most any type of gamer.
After a successful Kickstarter campaign, WayForward’s flagship series makes the jump to HD in Shantae: Half-Genie Hero. A callback to the platformers of old, is this title a wish come true?
Shantae: Half-Genie Hero Review
Those unfamiliar with Shantae and her misadventures have nothing to fear, as Half-Genie Hero’s story is independent from other titles and stands on its own. The story here is light, focusing on our hero Shantae’s uncle Mimic and his quest to build a device called the Dynamo. What follows is a quest to gather components to complete this device, along with some good old-fashioned heroics along the way. There is some light puzzle solving and item swapping to be had, though the game goes out of its way to make sure you don’t get stuck. Shantae’s world of Sequin Land is a lively one, with zombies, blobfish, maidens, and other denizens all looking for help.
To help these people in need, Shantae must make her way through a number of stages in a mostly linear fashion. Featuring haunted houses, factories, magic carpet races, and more, there is no shortage of variety here. Players will find themselves doing something new, and though the game never reaches a crushing level of difficulty, platforming finesse and pattern recognition are a must.
Said levels are made up of multiple sections, each taking upwards of 20 minutes to complete in their entirety. The long length of these stages works in the game’s favor, as there are multiple secrets to be found. Similar to titles like Mega Man X, Half-Genie Hero rewards exploration with extra health, gems, power ups, and other goodies. By the time players finish up this six-hour game, they will no doubt know each level like the back of their hand. A true ending is also available for those looking to truly scour each level.
However, not everything can be gathered on the initial run of a level. Half-Genie Hero makes liberal use of transformations, which turn Shantae into a number of different creatures. Each brings a unique power to the table, all of which are needed to progress. Platforming elements change dramatically between each transformation, offering the ability to swim, fly, stomp, or even turn into a little mouse. Though changing between these powers multiple times in the space of a few minutes can become somewhat tedious, it is still fun experimenting and seeing what powers work where. Each of these transformations can be upgraded as well, offering a reason to return to levels. The design of each level changes upon multiple playthroughs, with different enemies and stylistic elements subtly altered. What may be a race for survival in one instance can be completely changed into a scavenger hunt the next. Though there is some backtracking, these changes help to make each run fresh.
Old-school gamers and newcomers alike will find a lot to like in Shantae: Half-Genie Hero. It’s unique blend of humor, detailed art style, creativity, and platforming will appeal to most any type of gamer.