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Worth More Than Half - Shantae: Half-Genie Hero Review
Once again, the crew at WayForward have come forward with another title in the Shantae series, which has been gained a lot of traction lately. Originally pitched to the public via Kickstarter in September 2013 and successfully hitting its goal, it took its time in the oven. Finally having hit the world little over three years later, has the wait been worth it?
Platforms: PC [Reviewed], Wii U, PS4, Vita, Xbox One
Developer: Wayforward Technologies
Release: December 20, 2016
If you’ve played any prior Shantae game then you know what to expect. The formula is ever present but still unique in its own way. You’re still hair-whipping your way through colourful and diverse worlds filled to the brim with character. The controls are as tight as ever and still retain the deliberate pace any long time fan is accustomed to. Unlike previous entries though, Half-Genie Hero adopts specific stages instead of a more open ended world that you traverse manually. This cuts down on a lot of backtracking, but sadly makes actual traversal through stages a little cumbersome as you have to unlock a warp spell, and even that only works within stages. Instead, you fly around from the central hub to each new locale.
Despite this, each stage is wonderfully crafted with plenty of clever ideas and hidden secrets to uncover. Despite having to constantly go back and forth to these stages, new abilities you pick up as the game progresses unlock new areas and many exciting new concepts to the mix. Each ability you pick up has their uses and none of them go unused. Of course, you will likely still pick out favourites, as some are more useful than others. One specific ability unfortunately goes used only a couple of times and is made nearly redundant by another very quickly.
As expected from WayForward, there are two things to expect from Half-Genie Hero that would be amiss if left absent, the humour and the animation. It’s difficult to find yourself not laughing out loud at the goofball sense of humour on show here, it’s all tongue planted firmly in cheek and wonderfully self-aware. Not even the fourth wall is safe from this one, and it is more than welcome with the tone the game sets.
As for the animation, the main reason the game took over a year longer than expected to make is largely down to it. Half-Genie Hero is beyond gorgeous. No corner was left untouched, every single detail has been thoroughly animated and it looks fantastic. The little things, like Shantae visibly uttering “Oh wow” whilst you fly in the level select screen, go a long way in setting the scene. This is the perfect evolution from the low-res pixels of prior entries without feeling cheap or phoned in.
As a whole package, Shantae: Half-Genie Hero is certainly not half-empty. It isn’t terribly long, but it is incredibly memorable and an absolute stunning entry in what is becoming a fondly looked at franchise. Despite its length though, there is still more to come with post-release. The titular villain Risky Boots is getting her own story mode and the main game can also be played as characters Bolo, Skye and Rottytops in the hopefully near future.
- Tight controls
- Exceptional animations
- Excellent revisions
- Minor navigation issues
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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