We at Miketendo64 have a deep love for the Shantae series and speaking with the creator of it all is always such a joy. Upon the release of Shantae and the Seven Sirens, we recently interviewed Matt Bozon of WayForward to talk about the game and what the future holds for Shantae the Half-Genie Hero.
*We would like to add that this interview was conducted shortly before the consoles release of Shantae and the Seven Sirens. A lot of the questions and answers you may have already seen on other outlets who received their interview answers sooner.
The Talented Mr. Bozon
Miketendo64: In typical interview fashion, would you be so kind as to introduce yourself to our readers, provide us with some background history, and detail your involvement with Shantae and the Seven Sirens?
Matt: Hi! My name’s Matt Bozon, WayForward’s creative director and CCO. I’ve been with the company since its startup days in the early ’90s, and am best known as the “Shantae guy,” having co-created the series with my wife Erin. I’m also the director of Shantae and the Seven Sirens, the fifth game in the series!
Miketendo64: With each new installment in the Shantae series, players are given the chance to enjoy Shantae’s character arc. When planning each game, how much time goes into sitting down and ask what yourselves what you hope she achieves from her latest exploits? Is this something you discuss, or does it just happen during development?
Matt: I keep a document of all characters and their journeys so far – their motivations, what’s happened to them up to this point, and what was revealed in each previous adventure. I also keep a timeline that’s become more complicated since Pirate’s Curse. In that game we revealed some meaningful overlap between Shantae’s mother’s time and Shantae’s rival Risky Boots.
Keeping track of all of this gets pretty involved. Seven Sirens looks at first to be a side-story, but by the end of her journey, Shantae gains an item that could help bookend a bigger story arc. Whether we pick up that story thread in a future game…time will tell!
Miketendo64: Sometimes when writing a novel, or at least starting one, the author can often decide how they wish the story to end, before they even contemplate how it should begin. As the creator to the Shantae brand, if you can divulge it, what sort of ending do you envision for her story? Does she marry and give birth to a ¼ Genie offspring, who has adventures of her own, or does she live a Peter Pan existence, growing up but never actually aging, leaping from one adventure to the next?
Matt: Shantae’s stories are inspired by cartoons of the ’80s. So there’s an origin story, one-off episodes, and some multi-episodic arcs. Her story isn’t really meant to come to an end – but certain story arcs do. Each of her outings usually has some sort of lesson Shantae must learn, often to do with the responsibilities associated with growing up, and what it means to be a true hero.
In the first game, she had a child-like view of right and wrong. In the second, she became arrogant and prideful and ultimately lost her powers. In Pirate’s Curse, she learned to trust her enemy and herself. Half-Genie Hero was about accepting help from others, and with Seven Sirens, Shantae begins to understand that she’s a small but valuable part of a much larger world.
Shantae and the Seven Sirens
Miketendo64: Shantae and the Seven Sirens offers a variety of new faces and old and while we know quite a bit about the Half-Genies and Sirens that made it into the game, what about the ones that didn’t? Any chance you can tell us about some of the earlier characters and ideas that popped up but would never come to be in the final version?
Matt: Haha, that’s a great question. Some things did get cut or changed mid-development. At one point, Shantae herself was revealed to be the “Seventh Siren,” and had been brainwashed into abducting the other Half-Genies. Another draft had the Half-Genies revealed to actually be transformed into the Sirens.
And there were some early ideas about visiting the island for a music concert, which had a direct connection to the Siren song that lured everyone into the sunken city and their doom. And we toyed with the idea of it being a Half-Genie competition, based on battling each other. But, without a much larger cast of Half-Genies, that seemed like an idea for another day.
Miketendo64: In terms of performance, how well does Shantae and the Seven Sirens perform graphically on Nintendo Switch and how does it compare to the other console and PC releases?
Matt: The game runs amazingly well on Switch. That was due to a few months of very hard work from the programming and art teams. There are many visual effects and art layers that had to be handled differently on Switch to get the same overall results. The fact that the Switch version looks nearly indistinguishable from the more powerful consoles is very impressive.
At one point the artists and level designers scrapped weeks of work to try an even better method of optimizing for Switch, just to eke out a more consistent 60 frames per second in cases where specific Monster Cards or weapons were equipped. Suffice to say, they were dedicated! Players who own Seven Sirens and a powerful PC, PS4, or Xbox One and a 4K TV will be able to see the same artwork at a higher fidelity.
Playing on an iPad Pro displays something like “3ish K” and will reveal a little more vertical artwork on the 12.9-inch version. That said, Switch owners are not getting the short end of the stick by any means – and they also get the benefit of HD Rumble.
Miketendo64: Unlike Shantae: Half-Genie Hero, Shantae and the Seven Sirens did not have a Kickstarter campaign of its own, but depending on the game’s performance, are there any plans for additional content?
Matt: This time we opted not to go the paid DLC route. Instead, we’ve got some smaller free updates in the works!
Miketendo64: One new feature that is introduced in Shantae and the Seven Sirens, are Monster Cards. What prompted this particular addition and how much work went into implementation them?
Matt: One of our main goals with Seven Sirens was to bring many of the fan-favorite ideas together into a single game. But, we also wanted to add something new that would give players a chance to see those familiar elements from a fresh perspective. By having every enemy in the game potentially drop a Monster Card, players are encouraged to try new tactics that they might not have otherwise.
Much care was put into which cards would drop where, individual card rarity, and how they might affect the player’s abilities at key moments in the game. We think they’re a very fun, yet optional, addition!
Miketendo64: In another interview, you spoke about your interest to create animated shorts or a TV show. The opening animated cutscene for Shantae and the Seven Sirens looks truly amazing and Studio TRIGGER did an incredible job. What is the likelihood that you could work together again to make a Shantae into a web series to help continue promoting the series and how did the collaboration first come about?
Matt: Erin and I still are very interested in making a Shantae animated show, and feel that the Seven Sirens intro by Studio TRIGGER was a great way for Shantae to make her TV animation-style debut! As for how that came about, TRIGGER had known about Shantae from one of our earlier visits to Tokyo Game Show.
A couple of years later, they had some availability right after the completion of their first movie, Promare. At that time we were introduced to Will Feng, who helped coordinate the effort. Will was a huge help, and the results were fantastic! The video has been viewed more than 2 million times! Hot dog!
Enchanté Shantae – The Half-Genie and Cameos
Miketendo64: Shantae is no stranger to cameo appearances in other games, including Blaster Master Zero and Runbow. What other game series would you like to see Shantae appear in?
Matt: We have an upcoming cameo in LabZero’s Indivisible, and you can also play as Shantae in Mutant Mudds. Some other Shantae cameos are also in the works, which we’ll be able to announce in the not-so-distant future! I would like to see her appear in a fighting game someday, since I’m a big fan of Street Fighter and other similar fighters.
Miketendo64: A thought that goes through a lot of people’s minds is the possibility of Shantae to join the cast of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. What would it mean to you if Shantae was to be added to the roster of available fighters, or make an appearance as either a Mii Costume or Assist Trophy?
Matt: I think it’s fair to say that being invited to Super Smash Bros. is the highest honor a game character can receive. So we’re very humbled to have seen Shantae included as a Spirit when Ultimate launched on Switch. That was a huge honor. Having her as a Mii Costume, Assist Trophy, or a full-blown fighter now or in a future Smash Bros. game would be a dream come true, and I know that it would make a lot of fans very happy as well! For now, I’m just so happy that she was able to be included!
Shantae – Something Old, Something New
Miketendo64: With remasters proving to be more and more popular nowadays, whilst working on a new game is fun, could you ever see WayForward taking the time to remaster one of Shantae’s earlier adventures such as the first game, or even Shantae: Risky’s Revenge?
Matt: Definitely. This would be a great way to allow more players to enjoy the earlier games in the series. Although it would take energy away from creating new adventures, so I’m a bit torn. There are only so many hours in the day!
Miketendo64: Speaking of the original Shantae game and Risky’s Revenge, with Shantae and the Seven Sirens, marking Shantae’s third available outing on the Nintendo Switch, is there any chance that WayForward might bring the rest of the series to the Nintendo Switch?
Matt: Yes! We just announced that the original Shantae will be returning to Game Boy Color by way of an official reproduction cartridge, by Limited Run Games. In addition, the original 2002 game will be ported to Switch as a physical release and a digital release. Risky’s Revenge will also be released for Switch in the coming months, meaning you will be able to own the entire Shantae series on one gaming platform for the very first time!
The Future Of The Shantae Series
Miketendo64: There are so many colorful characters in the world of Shantae, it would be great to see them come together in a similar way to that of Shovel Knight Showdown. Do you think a “Shantae Showdown” or “Shantae Genie Battle” spin-off is possible?
Matt: I could see us gathering up the extended cast from every game and having them compete in some kind of spinoff, as with Super Mario titles. I know a lot of fans have been asking about a magic carpet racer or a fighting game. I supposed it could happen someday!
Miketendo64: With our half-genie heroine Shantae venturing further away from Sequin Land, off the top of your head, what other adventures could await her? Are there any plans for a Shantae 6?
Matt: Maybe too early to call them plans, but definitely ideas! I do think that the trip to Paradise Island was a one-off kind of experience. I’d imagine that we’ll go back to Sequin Land or its outskirts if there’s to be another outing.
Thank you Matt for taking part in our interview. We appreciate the time you took out of your very busy schedule as WayForward is having an extremely busy year for 2020. With re-releases of classic Shantae games coming to Switch as well as Bakugan Champions of Vestroia and the recent release of Shantae and the Seven Sirens, WayForward really is pushing forward.
We would also like to thank Chris Hoffman of WayForward as well for helping to arrange the interview with Matt.
Lastly, to everyone who has read the interview, thank you for taking the time to do so and for stopping by our little website. We always appreciate your support to help keep Miketendo64 going!
Until Next Time, Keep On Gaming!Tags: Interview, Matt Bozon, Nintendo, Nintendo Switch, Shantae, Shantae and the Seven Sirens, Shantae Interview, Shantae Spin-off, WayForward, WayForward Interview
This post was written by Jack Longman