You Should Be Playing: Shantae: Half-Genie Hero

You may or may not have heard of Shantae: Half-Genie Hero. Kickstarted to the tune of over $750K, it was one of the crowdsourcing platform’s first big hits when it launched its campaign in 2013. Like many of you, I missed its original release at the tail end of 2016. I mean, there have been so many good games in the past six to eight months, I think we should be forgiven for missing Shantae. But it’s never too late to right a wrong, and with last week’s release on the Nintendo Switch, Shantae: Half-Genie Hero definitely deserves your attention.

What is Shantae: Half-Genie Hero?

The latest in a series dating back to 2002 from Capcom, Wayforward’s Shantae: Half-Genie Hero is the resurrection of a cult-hit side-scrolling platformer.  Now run by WayForward (whose Creative Director is Shantae creator Matt Bozon), the series is seeing new life on the current gen systems.  It’s a side-scrolling adventure with tons of tongue-in-cheek humor, RPG elements, puzzles, and massive boss battles. It also lets you dance to change into crabs and monkeys, so it’s basically the best game ever.

The Story

Late one night, the half-genie Shantae is awoken by the sound of a voice. Following it outside, she discovers a secret cave, where a messenger from the Genie Realm warns her of an impending evil that only she can defeat, but disappears before it can elaborate further. Shantae suddenly awakens, revealing the experience to have been a dream. She goes to visit her Uncle Mimic, who is working on a new invention, the Dynamo, which will keep Scuttle Town constantly powered and safe from attack. However, the pirate Risky Boots begins a siege on Scuttle Town, with one of her Tinkerbat minions stealing Mimic’s blueprints. Shantae gives chase and defeats Risky, retrieving the blueprints, but Mayor Scuttlebutt once again fires her from her position as the town’s guardian genie due to Risky’s escape and the damage incurred. Mimic reveals that several components are still needed to complete the Dynamo, so Shantae begins searching across Sequin Land for the remaining components, helping those she finds in need of assistance along the way.

Why it’s awesome…

Platformers have been making something of a resurgence in recent years thanks to the hits like Shovel Knight, Cave Story, and more. Shantae and her games are very much an inspiration to those modern classics. Before they were the cool kids, Shantae was bringing the platformer into the current gen. It helps that the humor is top notch, the side-quests and RPG elements are well-conceived, and the actual level design is clever and fun throughout the entire game. Heck, as you unlock shape-shifting dances, there’s even a bit of Metroid-esque design as you can go back and re-explore older levels to find new secrets and rewards.

For $20, there are a million great games to play, and tons of them are already on the Switch. But for my 2 cents, I’d suggest you drop that Andrew Jackson paper on Shantae: Half-Genie Hero. If you like classic platformers with modern polish and sensibilities, you will not be disappointed. It’s worth noting that it comes with all the DLC as well, including the recently announced Pirate Queen’s Quest.

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