Platform: Nintendo Switch (eShop)
Category: Action, Adventure & Platformer
Release Date: 10th of April, 2018 (EU & NA)
And just like that, Shantae: Half-Genie Hero has gotten a whole lot better! Is there nothing this Half-Genie Hero can’t do?
We all knew this day was coming. The day that Shantae: Half-Genie Heroes final piece of DLC would come to the game and this week, the dreaded day in question did arrive. But you know what, having spent quite a few hours enjoying the lasted piece of DLC, I can firmly say, WayForward saved the best for last!
As much as I enjoyed the Pirate Queen’s Quest adventure and even the more recent Friends to the End DLC that have graced Shantae: Half-Genie Hero, with their presence, the latest and final DLC sees the player resume the control of Shantae once again, but this time in a whole new way. Much like how Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse saw Shantae fans having to learn new tricks, should they wish to save all of Sequin Land, the new Costume Pack DLC builds on the approach. Instead of just being a Costume Pack that allows players to play through the main game, once again, but in a different attire, it is a pack that lets players play through 3 new modes, with 1 new attire for each one!
Yes, that’s right. Shantae’s wardrobe is being expanded and for a piece of DLC that costs $7.99 US dollars, she can now have 3 final adventures across the HD rendition of Sequin Land that comes packed with 3D environments and 2D vector character sprites, which can only be experienced via the fourth instalment of the Shantae series. (Before Shantae: Half-Genie Hero, Shantae’s 1-3 all used a pixel art aesthetic that did do the series justice, but with the graphics Shantae has now, it would be a shame to go back to how things were.)
Now, although the 3 different modes (Beach, Ninja and Officer,) do differ in terms of gameplay and consisting of an alternate storylines that see’s Shantae being a sunbather searching for the perfect beach, a student of the Ninja arts, looking to become a master, or even an officer of the law in Mighty Switch Force attire, instead of a resident Guardian, assigned to keeping Scuttle Town safe. What is the same however, are the game locations, as the 3 alternate Shantae’s must all explore through the same levels the Half-Genie Hero Shantae has to, except like with the Friends to the End DLC, there is no hub world, just a series of stages to be beaten, complete with bosses and a Stage Select option for anyone looking to replay earlier levels. The same soundtrack also makes a comeback as well.
Where things do differ however, is in all the interactions between Shantae and those she encounters, as well as the conversations she has with herself. In typical WayForward fashion however, every piece of dialogue is what you can expect from a Shantae game in terms of humour and the funny associated character art meant to capture how any given character is feeling about what they’re saying. Then of course there is the gameplay.
In Beach Mode, Shantae does not care about saving the day, but finding the perfect beach is a must and she won’t let anyone get in her way of finding it. So in this mode, the player must help Shantae battle through the typical horde of enemies whilst trying to avoid the sun, as excessive exposure will result in instant death. To counter this, Shantae must collect sunscreen, found all over the various stages, (including Hypno Baron’s castle, as Shantae can still burn to death, when it’s night and in a haunted mansion.) Should the sunscreen, (which can respawn) be nowhere to be found and death is imminent, your best bet is jumping into the nearest body of water. Not only can Shantae swim in it, but it will actually cool her off.
In addition to swimming, Shantae can run faster than normal and can still duck, crawl, whip enemies with her hair and fire beach balls (press A,) as part of a long range attack. What she can’t do is dance, as pressing X will allow her to create a bubble around herself and float away. The bubble won’t last indefinitely and bumping into something will cause it to pop, so be careful where you fly and avoid projectiles wherever possible. Also, do try to fly away as much as possible, as Heart Squids are back, there are 3 per every non-boss level (45 in total) and as you can expect, getting all of them will help 100% complete the game and earn you a bonus image once the game is cleared.
On the subject of Heart Squids, there are also 45 present in Ninja Mode and can also help get a special bonus image upon completing that mode. Officer Mode also has a bonus image for 100% completion, except instead of requiring you to collect Heart Squids, you must capture Space Hooligans (Risky Boots, Rottytops, Skye, Twitch and Vinegar.) Unlike in Mighty Switch Force where collecting every single Space Hooligan per stage is required to move on to the next one, you’re welcome to get as many as you can and comeback later on. There are also 5 per every non-boss stage, with 75 in total to apprehend.
As for Ninja Mode, which is hands down my favourite one, Shantae has replaced her usual attire, for that more befitting an aspiring Ninja and now wields a new set of skills. From being able to cling to surfaces to wall jump from (use B), to pressing X and teleporting upwards, or sideways (depending on the direction you wish to move in.) She can also dodge out of harm’s way with the L button to perform a backdash and use a magic bar, to hurl Ninja Stars at her foes. Like Beach Mode Shantae, Ninja Shantae can also swim, jump and crawl, whereas Officer Shantae can not.
Something that they can all do however, across their individual adventures, is level up in the same way, as shown via the Friends to the End DLC. Collecting gems can raise both their level and attack power with Level 4 being the highest, but getting hit can make you drop gems, resulting in a level drop if you lose too much. Also like with the Friends to the End DLC, in the event Beach, Ninja and Officer Shantae die, (losing all 3 of their hearts,) it’s game over and you must start over from the beginning of the stage you’re on.
Due to the arcade-like difficulty, each mode can become very frustrating, as more hearts would have been nice, due to how susceptible to damage Shantae is, but the DLC is still a lot easier compared to the original Shantae game, as that one was a nightmare. But, talking of hardships, let’s talk about the Officer Mode. Although she is now equipped with a Pellet Shooter (Y to fire) and is an officer of the law. Officer Mode also strips Shantae of the skills of ducking, crawling and even swimming, so if she falls in water, its back to the beginning of the stage with you!
To really make things a little different though, as far as Shantae games go, Officer Mode also has Shantae wearing a siren hat, which when used, can cause blocks to reverse their position, allowing you a new path to explore, via pressing A, but if you time your jump and activation wrong, the block you bring to the front, could have you hitting and shattering the screen. Like with water, this will send you back to the beginning of the stage you’re on, but it is also a great way for putting an end to bothersome enemies if you time it just right.
There is no order for how you play each mode, as you’re welcome to play them in any order as you wish and can bounce back and forth between each one, but depending on your skill levels, each one can take between 90 minutes to 3 hours, so even if you spend 5-8 hours trying to complete them all, you’re definitely going to get your money’s worth as the new features are greatly enjoyable and come packed with plenty of challenge.
To be frank with you, although Shantae: Half-Genie Hero never needed any of the DLC modes as it feels like a fall game without them, I can not deny that they make it better and the Costume Pack is simply a work of art. It might have you venturing through the same locations, but the change of gameplay is not only refreshing, but it makes the mind boggle at the possibilities. Since Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse, we have seen the titular character go from being a Genie, to a Pirate, a Sunbather, and Officer and a Ninja and she has performed admirably in each role. So much so, it actually makes me want WayForward to do a new game made up of scenes from other games they’ve released, that sees Shantae playing through each one, as if she was the hero of games WayForward choose to include. It’s a wild idea, but WayForward have already made it work as far as the new DLC is concerned and it is that good, that if you consider yourself a Shantae fan, you simply need it! It really is 3 new arcade experiences, for the price of 1 single game!
THE VERDICT: 8/10
*Review Key Provided by WayForward
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This post was written by Solid Jack