Developed By: WayForward Categories: Adventure, Metroidvania Composer: Jake "Virt" Kaufman Release Date: 10.15.20
Almost exactly ten years ago, Shantae: Risky’s Revenge, a game long in development was released for DSiWare, which at the time was Wayforward’s only feasible way to get the game into players hands. Between then and now, the indie game boom started, Wayforward becomes a much bigger name, various console ports happen, and we land on Nintendo Switch with the Director’s Cut. This being a version of the game with rebalanced difficulty and a new outfit to use with the “Magic Mode” first seen in the iOS port.
At the time of release, the game was beautiful. In this reviewer’s opinion, some of the best sprite and animation work in ages, especially on a Nintendo handheld. Composer Jake “Virt” Kaufman’s music, like always was catchy and a standout in terms of videogame music that year next to greats like Super Mario Galaxy 2. Luckily, ten years later, the game still looks and sounds as impressive as it did back in 2010. While, I do love how modern Shantae games look, there’s simply no matching the spritework Wayforward did on their DSiWare and 3DS releases.
If you’ve played any Shantae game, you’ll probably get how the games function. Risky’s Revenge, much like the first and third games in the series is a “Metroidvania”. To the uninformed the world opens up the more abilities you get, one by one. With the Shantae series outside of Pirate’s Curse, these are animal transformations, much like Wonder Boy 3: Dragon’s Trap. While you need to get those animal transformations, you can also find some option (and not so option) upgrades to the transformations to find various other upgrades or collectables. Upgrades to your hair for strength and speed, magic abilities you can buy and then acquire stronger versions of can be purchased, but can and will cost a pretty penny. This all does come off as a bit of padding at times with the prices of certain items however, as the game is really quite short. If you speed through it, you’ll be done in an afternoon, though the game does seemingly push for this with ending screens changing depending on speed and item percentage, much like a Metroid game. This is great for replaying the game and pushing yourself to be better, but I’d probably have to use a guide to get the best ending screen, which requires 100% at under two hours. The Director’s Cut adding the Magic Mode offers more replayability too, making Shantae into more of a glass cannon and giving a bit of a more provocative outfit for those in need.
The game action wise is really rather basic, but gets the job done. You can whip with your hair, and once upgrades your animal transformations have their own attacks, but it never goes above mashing an attack button. The magic spells can change things up a tad, but again stay rather basic, almost like Mega Man abilities. Most of the game isn’t difficult, but bosses can be in addition to a handful just feeling like hit sponges, even if the boss is otherwise simple pattern wise.
It’s hard to place this as the definitive version of the game. While for all intents and purposes, it really is, with the complete package and even being handheld, it’s missing a key factor of the DSi release. The bottom screen. Maybe it’s years of DS Castlevania games or clones, but I was spoiled by having a map or inventory on the bottom screen whenever. It’s really convenient in cutting down menu time and was even stated by the team behind Samus Returns as the reason why the game was a 3DS release and not a Switch release. It’s ultimately a non-issue, but it was a small hurdle in the way of me saying it’s the true defacto way to play.
If one as played the game previously anywhere else, it might be a bit hard to really recommend someone buy it again outside of portability and the convenience of having every Shantae game on Nintendo Switch. It is cheap however, so for fans of the genre, it’s a no brainer.
Buy Now: $9.99
*Game Download Code supplied for review purposes