Thanks to Wayforward for the review code
Title: Shantae: Risky’s Revenge Director’s Cut
System: Wii U (eShop)
Release date: 3/24/2016
The main game/story
Taking place shortly after the events of the first Shantae, the titular character must set out to stop the evil Risky Boots from causing havoc to Sequin Land with a dangerous lamp! An enhanced update of the original game, this Director’s Cut edition finally arrives on Wii U! Including some tweaks to the original DSiWare game along with an unlockable difficulty mode, this port aims to bring the second Shantae game out to a wider audience.
While the visuals unfortunately aren’t upgraded to be on the same lines as Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse, this is still a fine looking game, with impressive spritework and scenery that changes depending on which layer you are on. The Director’s Cut edition even allows you to choose between four different options for displaying the game! Two 4:3 options, with and without a border, a widescreen option and the original resolution. Out of all of these, I feel that the 4:3 with borders is the most accurate, since the Widescreen option stretches the visuals quite a bit and the original resolution is way too small for the TV. Still, having a good amount of options means that you’ll likely find one that suits your personal needs.
Music and Sound
Retaining the tracks from the original game, they still sound just as fantastic as they did in the original! While it is disappointing that the soundtrack wasn’t updated to have the soundfont from Pirate’s Curse, Risky’s Revenge still has a great soundtrack nevertheless, with a bit of its own uniqueness hidden within the melodies, even if its few and far between in comparison.
In terms of controls, Risky’s Revenge behaves just as you would expect from the series, with Shantae being able to explore a big world with plenty of secrets to uncover. That being said, if you’re used to Pirate’s Curse and its multiple islands, you’ll probably be a bit upset at the fact that you’re only able to explore the island that hosts Sequin Land. Thankfully, even though this game originally came out before Pirate’s Curse, there’s still plenty to do on this one island! Besides going to the next objective and defeating enemies and bosses, you can choose to go off the beaten path to find other items, such as health holders that increase the total amount of health you can have, magic jars that allow you to purchase better items, and warp statues that allows for quick access around the map!
Speaking of the map, unfortunately it’s rather confusing when compared to the map provided in Pirate’s Curse, mainly due to it focusing heavily on showing the position of each of the layers on screen. You see, Risky’s Revenge has a rather odd gimmick that revolves around jumping from layer to layer in some areas, usually to get around an obstacle or to reach a certain area. A path that may end up taking you to a town on one layer could take you to a warp statue on another, which can make it a bit more frustrating to figure out where to go. Thankfully, once you get used to the mechanics it becomes second nature, even if I wish that a map similar to the one in Pirate’s Curse was added to this DX version to make things a bit easier.
During Shantae’s journey, she’ll find a few of her classic genie transformations, allowing you to shift between forms in order to gain new abilities such as being able to climb walls by transforming into a Monkey, breaking down blocks by transforming into an elephant, along with a few others that’ll help her get around the world. In true Metroidvania fashion, Shantae will need these abilities in order to revisit earlier locations to obtain the extra items I mentioned earlier, although you can skip the majority of them if you want to.
Overall in the gameplay department, Shantae Risky’s Revenge controls very well and feels right at home for fans of the other two games, although there is one minor issue that may or may not impact your decision to buy this game, and that is the game’s short length.
The approximate amount of time it takes the average person to complete the game (from both my personal experience and that of others who’ve played the game to the ending) is somewhere in the range of 4-6 hours, all depending on how far out of the way you go to get extra bonuses or items. This game is the definition of short and sweet, but luckily the Magic Mode at least offers some incentive to give the game another playthrough, possibly leading to double the playtime of the original game depending on how much the extra challenge interests you.
In conclusion, fans of Shantae should feel right at home playing through Risky’s Revenge, although the short length may make you feel uneasy about spending $10 on an experience you could theoretically beat in an afternoon. That being said, I did enjoy my time with this game, as while it did feel a lot lighter than the first and third entries, it still had that fun exploration focus that made the others a lot of fun to play, and the bonus Magic Mode is sure to be enough to encourage fans to give the game another shot with its extra challenge. I give Shantae: Risky’s Revenge Director’s Cut a 7 out of 10.
For fans hoping for a more robust experience, however I strongly recommend picking up Pirate’s Curse instead. I enjoyed that game so much that back when it launched I gave both versions a perfect score, one I still stand by today.
Author’s note: As of the time this review goes live, the recent Humble Bundle is offering Pirate’s Curse for $1! Even more of a reason to give that game a shot before jumping into Risky’s Revenge.