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Indie Corner: Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse

Shantae has been around for a long time now but not a lot of gamers played it before. The reason for this is that the original game launched for the Game Boy Color when the Advance hit stores and sequels launched as digital and smaller games. Pirate’s Curse is the new adventure of Shantae and released on the Nintendo 3DS, Wii U and Steam. It’s been out for a while now but it’s still amazing!

The story

Without spoiling too much, the story of Pirate’s Curse takes off right after the events of the previous game. This means that Shantae lost her genie powers and tries to live as a normal human. Her normal life changed drastically when archenemy Risky Boots knocked on the front door. There’s a new kind of danger in town called the The Pirate Master; Risky and Shantea team up to defeat this new enemy. It’s a classic ‘enemies team up to fight for a greater evil’ theme but it works. The game introduces a new way of storytelling with this theme but the changes don’t end there.

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A Metroidvania for sure

The reason why people who played Shantae before fell in love with it, is the way it plays. Shantae always played as a classic 2D Metroidvania game. This means you have to fight and jump your way trough several levels in one big open-world. You could count on your genie powers to advance and by defeating bosses and solve puzzles; you gained new powers to open new paths. It’s a classic Metroidvania but some of these elements changed a lot in Pirate’s Curse.

Wayforward, the developer, isn’t afraid of innovation so changed some of the key elements. The genie powers are cut for example and are replaced by human powers as well as some great pirate tools. Shantae still got her iconic hair whip but everything else is rather new. One thing that didn’t change is the way you gain new skills. You still gain new items or moves by advancing in the main story. Different items and different moves still open new paths to reach new levels. The big difference? Pirate’s Curse isn’t set in one giant world but features separated worlds disguised as small islands.

Small islands instead of a big open world

This change might come as a shock for some gamers but it’s actually something good. The open world in previous Shantae games felt great but it also forced you to travel back a lot. Without gaining experience for backtracking, a lot of gamers got tired of it fast. The ability to discover the different island on your own pace and without a lot of back traveling just works incredibly great. You still need to travel to Risky’s ship if you want to reach a new island but that’s not that drastic. The most fun part about the islands is that most feature key items and enemies to take down in order to advance. Traveling to all those little islands felt a lot like a 2D version of The Legend of Zelda’s Wind Waker. It felt right and fun and made the game a little ‘faster’ compared to others. Not everybody will like the fact that you’ll need to search every inch of the islands to advance; but this exploration works great in our opinion.

Solid gameplay

This brings us to the gameplay itself. Like we’re used of Wayforward, the game controls are very simple and tight. Since the game features some heavy platform sections, it’s great to be able to control Shantae with this level of precision. High jumps and dungeons aren’t a problem thanks to the great controls. If you play on a 3DS, the touchscreen is used to access your key items but also shows a map. It’s so great to see that the controls are so good and that the power of the device is used in a simple yet effective way.

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Thanks to this, you’ll enjoy every minute of the game. It has a right balance between the platform and dungeon sections. In dungeons you’ll need to solve puzzles and beat enemies to reach the final boss. It’s an easy task on paper but don’t be mistaken. Pirate’s Curse isn’t an easy game at all. Just like the previous games, the challenge is rather big. Enemies and especially bosses are hard to beat and need some dedication in order to take down.

This isn’t a game for the young gamers, it’s way too hard and the conversations still feature some sexual messages. The conversations are still fun to follow and have a lot of humor in them. Not really the kind of humor that will get you laughing out loud but the kind of humor that makes it fun to advance.

Brilliant design and sound

And so we arrive at the final part of this Indie game, the design and sound. Right from the start, Shantae games looked incredible. But with the extra power of the 3DS, everything looks even better. The colorful background and adorable characters all seem to pop out of your screen. Using the 3D, they actually do as well! It’s by far the best looking game yet and it’s really fun to hang around on the island. Each island is themed differently but all feature the same iconic graphics we came to love.

Aside of the looks, Pirate’s Curse comes with some traditional and new music to really get the game going. The sound fits the theme perfectly and makes it even more fun to explore dungeons and enemies. We can’t say anything bad about it, everything is just great!

ShantaeVerdict
The good: The bad:
+ Great controls – Too difficult for some
+ Fun conversations – Still some backtracking
+ Plays great 

Pirate’s Curse is another great Shantae game that features some great innovations. The change from an open world to different islands sounds strange but it actually works. If you’re looking for a classic, hard 2D action platformer, this is the game you need. Give Shantae the attention she deserves, go check it out!

Score 4.5 out of 5:

4.5ster

Got interested in games since I could read. Started with Nintendo but evolved into an all-round gamer. I love all kind of games; triple A games to Indie. If the vibe is right, I'll enjoy playing it.