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This Curse is a Blessing - Shantae and the Pirate's Curse
Shantae and the Pirate's Curse is WayForward's newest game in the title character's series, with another game on the way after a successful Kickstarter campaign. First announced back in November 2012 as a feature article for Nintendo Power's final issue, it spent two more years in gradual development before finally hitting the US last October and February 2015 in Europe. It is the first in the series to take on a "Metroidvania" style of gameplay, in which the world is open to the player with areas cut off based on what powers and abilities you have unlocked. The game feels like the perfect hybrid of Metroid and Zelda, with a map style similar to Super Metroid sprinkled with dungeons across the world.
Platforms: Wii U [Reviewed] | 3DS
Release: December 25, 2014 [NA] | February 5, 2015 [EU]
MSRP: $19.99 |
Press Copy provided by WayForward
The story is simple at first, but gradually evolves as the game progresses with a deeper narrative as you push forward. As a whole it isn't overly complex, remaining easy to understand whilst still having an engaging plot. The basic premise is, after the events of Risky's Revenge, Shantae is no longer a half-genie. The nefarious lady-pirate Risky Boots accuses Shantae of stealing her gear and taking away her shadowy crew, the Tinkerbats. However, it turns out that a greater evil known as the Pirate Master is making his return. It is up to Shantae and Risky to reluctantly team up to prevent the revival of the menace that threatens Sequin Land. Meanwhile, the mayor of Scuttle Town makes a panicked decision to sell the town to the Ammo Baron, who wishes to convert the town into a giant military base for his own purposes. Can Shantae defeat the Pirate Master and return Scuttle Town to its former mayor?
The writing is superb with plenty of self-aware humour sprinkled across the adventure, frequently breaking the fourth wall in clever ways and displaying a genuinely quirky cast of colourful characters. It's not often you see a He-Man like figure described simply as the most capable guy you'll ever meet. Shantae herself comes off as a spunky, cheerful character who is beaming with enthusiasm and Risky is as cut-throat as a pirate captain gets. Fans of prior games will appreciate returning members outside of the Shantae/Risky combo, with familiar faces such as the zombified Rottytops and the forever filler boss Squid Baron. Newcomers won't have too hard a time getting to grips with the returning cast, as their personalities are shown off very well. By the end of the journey even newcomers will be familiar with the cast.
Pirate's Curse has an exceptional foundation for its gameplay, having been built upon the prior entries in the series. Using the sprites from Risky's Revenge as a base, they have been enhanced and feel much more animated than ever before. A lot of the time you may find yourself just simply admiring the stunning sprite work and animations. The core gameplay isn't too different from Risky's Revenge either, but with a greater expanded world map. The world is split up into smaller regions but with many hidden secrets to be found, owing itself to Metroid's hidden paths. Each secret area holds hidden pickups to expand health or the collectable dark magic. This magic's purpose is left mostly a mystery until later on in the game, but the Tinkerbats of old have been transformed by the Pirate Master into monstrous Cacklebats and defeating them grants you a portion of magic. The dungeons of each region serve as a means to locate and destroy a section of the Pirate Master's power, as well as grant new equipment to Shantae. These items grant her new abilities which can aid in travel and even be used to find secrets in the world. Completing each dungeon grants you access to a new region in Sequin Land.
As a whole package, the game can take between eight to ten hours casually, up to twelve if you aim for 100% item collection. Speed runners will love this game, as first time completion unlocks a new game plus "Pirate Mode" that grants you all the equipment straight away. This gives you many new opportunities to find new routes and improve upon your completion time. Finishing the game under certain requirements also unlocks new wallpapers for the file select menu, ranging from collecting all the items to beating the game in under two hours. There is plenty to come back to if you want to better yourself at the game, but even if you wish to only play it once it provides a very enjoyable experience. The gameplay is tight and responsive, the visuals are stunning and the music is without a doubt endlessly catchy and memorable, you can't go wrong with picking this game up from either 3DS or Wii U eShops, it is well worth every penny.
- Strong sense of progression
- Upbeat and catchy music
- Endearing cast and story
- Fantastic visuals and animation
- Large difficulty spike towards end
Excellent games have our official recommendation and our examples of what every game should strive to be. These games feature exciting gameplay, engaging stories (when applicable), intuitive controls and movement, polished and fitting presentations, and good value. Above all else, these games are truly fun to play.
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