STAFF REVIEW of Shantae: Half-Genie Hero (Xbox One)


Wednesday, January 11, 2017.
by Brent Roberts

Shantae: Half-Genie Hero Box art Very few developers can make a platform game worth playing. While the overall design may seem simplistic, the real challenge is fine tuning all of the game's intricate aspects. Earlier this year WayForward released their game Shantae and the Pirate's Curse and now they're back. They have recently released Shantae: Half-Genie Hero, on the Xbox One, for the price of $19.99. Their previous release was met with great praise. So, has WayForward delivered another enjoyable platformer, or have any dreams of a quality game sunk before we take flight?

For those who haven't played the previous game, the series involves the adventures of a Half-Genie female who was hired to protect a town. In this adventure you are awoken, in a sort of dream realm, where you encounter a mysterious spirit who vaguely informs you of grave danger ahead, and only you have the power to prevent the future catastrophe from happening. Then it's gone, just as quickly as it appeared, and you find your character waking in her bed and trying to decide if what she experienced was real or not.

Heading into the town (in the game silly) you'll get a sense of the game's control and notice how simplistic, yet precise, some of the inputs are. Your character, Shantae, still has her infamous hair whip, and of course the dancing does return. Shantae uses her belly dancing skills for multiple reasons, such as transforming into various animals, each one providing special moves and abilities, and using magical spells designed to help her throughout each level. This time around though, there are a total of 12 different dances to learn, so with only seven stages you will find yourself replaying them over and over again should you wish to unlock everything Shantae: Half-Genie Hero has in store for you.


WayForward has managed to combine several elements of classic franchises into a method of platforming that provides countless hours of entertainment. This is thanks in no small part to the story. Normally you would think such repetition would be boring, and most of the time I'd agree with you, but Shantae: Half-Genie manages to add levity to the situation in multiple ways.

The humor injected into the storyline that prides itself in frivolity and whimsy instead of being dark, brooding and dramatic is one way the game adds this levity I speak of. Sure, there will be some serious elements, but overall the story is meant to be enjoyed with a smile on your face, and that is what you'll have. For example, in game you'll find yourself fighting Risky Boots and her pirates as she attacks you with her "Part Omni-Organic, Partially Titanic, Ocean-Optional Tinkerslug" or as Shantae calls it: POOP TOOT! Risky undoubtedly hates that name and thus a battle ensues. These types of comical moments can also be found throughout the levels themselves and go a long way to helping numb the boredom found replaying a level numerous times. Before I continue though, I have to address something about this game.


It looks beautiful. From the character modeling, the 2.5D painted backgrounds to the special effects and the animation, almost everything pertaining to the visual look of Shantae: Half-Genie Hero is a sight to behold. You almost get the feeling that you're playing a retro game, yet through the perspective of a modern day HD console platform, and you are in a sense. All the classic platformers that have staked their claim to greatness have done so by trying to deliver a visual experience to match the game you're playing, and this game does just that through HD.

The visuals are complimented by a varied soundtrack that actually quite surprised me, but sadly it wasn't quite memorable as the iconic platformers of old. Keep in mind though, I didn't say how the soundtrack surprised me. Sure, each individual land provides its own unique music, however none of it is very memorable to the point where you'd see...ahem, hear yourself humming the tune. It's more of a hodge-podge of electric synths and guitars fitted with a more Persian/Arabian personality.


There's a lot to like about Shantae: Half-Genie Hero, a humorous storyline, beautiful graphics, and gameplay control that is solid as a rock. Without a doubt, this game checks many of the boxes that make up a phenomenal platformer, but while it checks many of them, it doesn't check them all. For instance, there are familiar faces that you'll encounter throughout your journey, but there aren't as many new experiences as I had hoped there would be. When you also take into account that there is a fairly limited amount of levels and that you'll spend more time replaying levels to unlock everything, and some may believe that WayForward seems to come up a bit short when it comes to packing content into this game (Super Mario Bros had 8 main levels). That being said, this game is truly amazing though. To see how something that was born from crowd funding that has blossomed into a fantastic platformer series is pretty neat. Would I spend $19.99 to buy Shantae: Half-Genie Hero? Despite the faults, yes I would, and so should you.




Overall: 8.0 / 10
Gameplay: 8.0 / 10
Visuals: 8.5 / 10
Sound: 7.0 / 10

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