The whole game is simply magical
Life in the idyllic Scuttle Town has been anything but peaceful since Shantae, the half-genie, had successfully chased away the nefarious Risky Boots and her dreadful pirate crew, the Tinkerbats. What’s worse, when Uncle Mimic unveils a seemingly ordinary oil lamp during the annual Relic Hunters Expo, the shuddersome sea robber makes a sudden return and steals it. Even though Shantae is not sure what it is with that lamp, this guardian of Scuttle Town follows Risky across Sequin Land, determined to foil the marauder’s plans.
Shantae: Risky’s Revenge (2010) is the vibrant sequel to the adorable Game Boy Color game, Shantae, from 2002. Even though it would be ideal to know the first game’s story, it certainly is not necessary. The plot is easy to get into and though the characters all already know one another, they do introduce themselves once again. In 2014, after its initial success, Way Forward released this Director’s Cut that addresses some of the game’s previous issues (such as the teleportation and mapping system), while also introducing a Magic Mode, an alternate version to the Dancer Outfit from the iOS release.
This production gracefully intertwines classic 2D gameplay with new design ideas, giving Risky’s Revenge a unique flavor. Two of the zones, Scuttle Town and the Tangled Forest, even have multilayered environments wherein characters continue to move about when Shantae switches to the foreground. These look great and the forest also has a tiny “layer puzzle”, which I would have loved to see more of, but sadly, this feature is underutilized.
Furthermore, even though I have no problems in the town, I do experience frame drops whenever Shantae is exploring the Tangled Forest. In there, four enemy-ridden layers are in front of one another and the ol’ toaster (32-bit, Windows Vista Home Premium, Intel Core 2 CPU, Nvidia GeForce 9500 GT, 3070 MB RAM, DirectX 11) drops from 60 fps down to around 49. Luckily, this has been the only issue I have encountered after having played through the game several times and I do believe that it’s more on my part than it is on the game’s.
As for the combat, Shantae doesn’t have projectile weapons, but swings her hair like a whip to punish pesky evildoers. Sadly, some of the bosses are really tricky and way harder than the rest of the game. The fight against the Squid Baron (a giant octopus who got into this mess by refusing to pay for his meal delivery) will take players by surprise. He has a lot of hit points, regenerates health, is fast, tall, wide, and overall just really hard to beat. Unless Shantae buys the pike ball item for 50 gems at the store in Scuttle Town, the game might come to an abrupt, frustrating halt here. Players should therefore always include the merchant in their tactic to avoid unnecessary hardships.
Sometimes, however, Shantae’s hair and items are not enough and she has to turn herself into various animals to get to previously unreachable areas. Her magical forms are unlocked one by one, but unlike in some games, the backtracking mechanic is unintrusive and the amount of hidden trinkets and new paths overseeable. To me, this makes Risky’s Revenge ideal for anyone who would want to test the waters of the “Metroidvania” genre. I myself am a player who likes to take his time and 100% games during the first playthrough but who also has a bad sense of direction. With that, it took me around nine hours to fully complete the game the first time around and I had a lot of fun doing so.
Risky’s Revenge has an overall good balance between funny story, combat, and platforming. Here and there are a couple of more challenging jumping sections, but these are never too long and never so frustrating that one would want to give up on the game as a whole. They also have the right difficulty for players around 10-14 years of age. As I am using a home computer, I got to use both the keyboard and an Xbox 360 gamepad as controllers and must say that, despite Risky’s Revenge working perfectly fine with the former, it is the latter that is more fun to use here.
It’s obvious that the developer team at Way Forward put a lot of love and care into Shantae: Risky’s Revenge – Director’s Cut. Every single character, even the pirate Risky Boots, is likable and quirky. The graphic design is switches between adorable and mesmerizing and the exploration Sequin Land just that entertaining. And even if I am not the biggest fan of some of the boss battles (I find them a tad too hard), the game is overall just so colorful and fun to play that Shantae: Risky’s Revenge – Director’s Cut is a must play for all platforming and Metroidvania fans, both young and old.
Shantae: Risky’s Revenge – Director’s Cut gets a 9.5 belly dances out of 10 zombie baristas
Where to Get
Shantae: Risky’s Revenge – Director’s Cut is available as digital download on Steam, Nintendo’s eShop, the PlayStation Store, and on Steam for $9.99 USD or your regional equivalent, whereas the digital copy of the regular version of Risky’s Revenge is being sold on iTunes for $2.99 USD or your corresponding currency.
The final words
Like with all reviews, the comment section is completely open, there is no need to register or log in. If you feel like it, please leave a comment. Thank you. Also, all screenshots were taken by me during my playthrough. Lastly, you can also follow my Steam curation by clicking on this link: http://steamcommunity.com/groups/gaoscorner#curation