Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse (Wii U/3DS eShop)- Review

Originally posted October 24th 2014 on the Seafoam Gaming Forums


Prelude

A long time ago, a game system known as the Game Boy Advance was released in 2001 to universal praise and outstanding sales records. But before that, was a small system many people have owned, but underestimated.

Enter the Game Boy Color. Many people my age, and even people who were fans of the original Game Boy enjoyed gaming on this system. Though for most of us, the only game that mattered was Pokemon Gold and Silver. The GBC didn’t have too many exclusive games besides Pokemon GSC, so many fell into obscurity… With the exception of Zelda: Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons, not many other GBC games would become well known, let alone heard of. The GBC quickly died in 2002 with the release of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.

…But one game was hidden. Very well hidden, as it did not have a movie license, nor did it have any big name IP on it. No, this was an entirely new IP, waiting to be born to the gaming scene.

It was Shantae. Released in 2002 for the GBC, the game was giving great reviews from critics, as one of the final official 8-Bit games ever created, it was a fitting finale to a remarkable era. The same era that brought us games like Life Force, Contra, Mega Man, Castlevania, Super Mario Bros, and Zelda II was concluded around the same time this game came out! It seemed like a game everyone should buy.

…But sadly for the developers, not many people did. This led to the game being discontinued rather quickly by Capcom (The publisher), as the GBA lived on and quality titles began to come out for that system. Wayforward tried and tried again to revive Shantae on the GBA, but to no avail due to the lack of a willing publisher. They made a few GBA games for other publishers (Mostly licensed games), but none of them held a candle to Shantae.

Over time, more and more people learned about Shantae thanks to the internet, and people who played it were blown away on how a GBC game could have such amazing animations! As people realized what they had been missing, the game’s resale prices on Amazon and eBay kept rising higher and higher, until it became insanely expensive. Shantae was now a cult classic, and fans eagerly waited for a sequel, and in 2010, Shantae: Risky’s Revenge was unleashed to the world on DSiWare. Fans rejoiced as the half-genie could continue her quest for a new generation, in a more accessible fashion. Considered by many to be the best DSiWare game of all time, people once again waited for more.

And in 2012, the issue right before the finale, Nintendo Power broke the news: The Shantae Trilogy would end with Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse, for the 3DS eShop. Things were looking brighter than ever for Shantae fans, and once again the half-genie helped mark the end of an era. But multiple delays hit the game, causing the fans to worry. Would the game still be as short as the first two? Was there a technical problem? Could it be cancelled like the GBA Shantae? Luckily for them, it was finally confirmed to be launching this year.

And now… The mystery unfolds in the final chapter.

Title: Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse

System: 3DS (eShop), Wii U (eShop)

Price: $19.99

Release date: 10/23/2014

The main game/story

The Shantae series is pretty much a cross between Zelda II and Castlevania in terms of controls, while the map system and exploration is like that of Metroid.

At the very end of Risky’s Revenge, Shantae was forced to fight the evil embodiment of her genie powers in order to save Sequin Land once again, at the risk of sacrificing her magical powers. After doing so, Sequin Land seemed to finally be at peace once again, and despite the loss of her powers, Shantae at least was thankful Risky was stopped yet again…

Why am I telling you this? Because this game pretty much picks up right after Risky’s Revenge, to the point that if you only completed the first game (Like myself), you might be a bit confused on the situation on why she no longer has her powers.

Regardless, the game kicks off with Sequin Land being threatened by a mysterious curse. Not even Risky Boots knows what is going on. Neither of them wanting the land to fall into ruin, the two decide to team up in order to save the land once again!

General Graphics

Shantae GBC had graphics and animations that pushed the limits of the GBC, Shantae Risky’s Revenge had graphics and animations that shocked people with how smooth the game was running, and Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse? It also has excellent animation and graphics! All of the sprites are much more detailed than ever before, and the backgrounds all have their own remarkable touches to them. With well made character art in the game as well, it truly does feel alive.

3DS Graphical Advantages

With 3D on, you can even see more minor details, and see the world in a whole new way. It’s breathtaking, and for the first time when playing an indie game, I actually at times felt like I was connected to the world in the game, determined to look for secrets and clues, and to see if there might be any hidden details in the background, even if they weren’t important to the story or what I was supposed to be doing. These graphics are that good.

Wii U Graphical Advantages

But if 3D isn’t for you, then you’ll be pleased to hear that the Wii U version has it’s own way of making the graphics shine, and that is through the obvious advantage of being on an HD system. While it may not have it’s own unique art style like Mighty Switch Force does, the pixels look crisp and excellent, and the increased visibility helps a lot as well. The biggest advantage however is the beautiful HD character art by Inti Creates, the same company who made the Mega Man Zero and ZX games. On the big screen, the characters truly feel alive, and it almost makes it seem like a playable cartoon in a way, similar to their other game, Ducktales Remastered.

Music and sound effects:

The first Shantae game had OK music, but nothing too memorable outside of a few songs. But this game? It shatters it into a million pieces. I’m not kidding when I say this is the best soundtrack to an indie game I’ve ever heard. Made by the amazing Jake Kaufman, there are tons of great remixes of older songs, along with some new ones. These songs all sound amazing, just like if they were from the TurboGrafx CD version of Ys Book I and II. They keep you ready for battle, make you never want to give up, and they make you just want to explore! Bravo Jake.

And of course, I couldn’t forget the sound effects. They are taken from other Wayforward games, along with a few new ones. They work OK, and Shantae’s voice for some of the dialogue sounds just fine too.

Gameplay

This is it folks… What you were waiting for, the gameplay. I’m happy to report it’s the best in the series yet! Gone is the cheap difficulty from the original game. Gone is the short length from Risky’s Revenge. Gone are the dungeon rooms with no point besides wasting your time, and gone is the overall tediousness of the past game’s map systems. (Or in the case of Shantae GBC, no map at all!) This is the ULTIMATE Shantae game, hands down.

The controls are spot on, with Shantae’s jump being just perfect, and easily controllable (Unlike the original game where she could easily tumble or fall like a rock in some areas). Her basic attacks are more precise, and the extra moves you get in this game all work in an excellent fashion as well. Not once did I die due to a cheap enemy attack or bad placement. Anytime I took a hit, it was due to me failing to dodge something, or simply me being careless. I’ll even say the controls outmatch the famous Super Castlevania IV in terms of how precise they are.

The map system is more helpful than it ever has been before. With the 3DS touch screen, you can easily go to the map and look to see where you have been, if there are any save points you past by, and if there is anything of interest. Just like in Metroid, it works very well. And of course, like in the Castlevania games such as Aria of Sorrow, if you find a map you can see where to go next.

The short length of the first two Shantae games were a big problem for some, including myself. The reason I went with the iOS version of Risky’s Revenge instead of the DSiWare version for due to the price of that game on the 3DS eShop compared to the app store. But no need to fear, the $20 price tag for this game is worth the length of the game. There are a lot of heart squids to hunt for (Which give you more health, like the Zelda heart pieces), lots of places to explore, and finally, multiple endings. I won’t spoil how to get these, but rest assured you’ll have more reason than ever before to explore. And while you are at it, you’ll have fun while doing so.

Conclusion

Overall, Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse on the 3DS is the perfect example of a fitting finale to a great trilogy of games. While Shantae is definitely not over yet (Half Genie Hero shall reboot the series to keep up the legacy for multiple systems), this was certainly worth the many delays the game has suffered. All the problems I had with the first game were gone, and the problems that made me a bit nervous about the second game were fixed. This is the ultimate Shantae game, so please, don’t be scared of that $20 price tag. It’s worth all 2000 cents it will cost for you to get this game.

With perfect control, an amazing soundtrack, and a wonderful world to admire, this is a platformer you do not want to miss. Even if you have never played a Shantae game before, I recommend starting out with this one. You won’t be lost in the story for long, and you’ll have a ton of fun during this journey. I give Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse on Nintendo 3DS a 10 out of 10.

The Wii U version, on the other hand benefits from having the exact same awesome gameplay as the 3DS version, but in HD. This game feels right at home on a console, and the Wii U gamepad is supported for Off TV play and other things, so the only major thing the Wii U is lacking compared to the 3DS version is the 3D. I like both the 3D effect in the 3DS version and the HD display of the Wii U version, so it’s honestly hard for me to tell you which one you should buy. If you like platformers or exploration based games like I mentioned earlier, buy this game. If you only own one system or the other, buy it for the system you own, no need to buy the other system for this game as well. If you own both systems and want to know which version to choose, here’s my personal advice:

-On 3DS you can play the entire series in chronological order, so the 3DS version is the better version in terms of understanding the story since the Wii U does not have the first or second Shantae.

-On Wii U you have a bigger view of things, and the better resolution makes it much easier on the eyes. While 3D looks amazing, slightly better visibility and the amazing HD artwork by Inti Creates makes the Wii U version the better version in terms of appearance.

-On Wii U you can easily hear the amazing music in better quality, through your TV, or the gamepad via headphones. On the 3DS it sounds good but the speakers don’t do the game justice. Better quality of music makes the Wii U version the better version in terms of sound.

-On 3DS and Wii U you can use that system’s touch screen to choose items and view a map while moving around. It’s a bit harder to do on the Wii U version since you have to move your eyes away from the screen or open the menu, so the 3DS version is the better version in terms of convenience. Plus it’s portable.

-On 3DS and Wii U, the story and gameplay is the same. No exclusive features like miiverse or streetpass. Therefore they are both just as great in the gameplay department.

-The Wii U has multiple control options, with the Pro Controller and Gamepad being usable, and both working great. The 3DS version obviously only uses the 3DS’s built in buttons, so the Wii U version is the better version in terms of control.

…So in the end, I consider the Wii U version to be just slightly better than the 3DS version, due to the advantages of being in HD among the other things I listed above. However, the 3DS version is still a masterpiece of it’s own, so they are both good options. But if you want the absolute best of the best, get the wii U version, which I also give a 10 out of 10. It can’t really get any higher than 10, so you can either follow my advice, or choose for yourself. Either way, you won’t be disappointed with this modern masterpiece.

Thanks to Wayforward for the review codes.

…And also, thanks to Matt Bozon, who played the greatest role in creating this series.

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