Sorry this review took so long to come out, I was distracted by the title I have on the docket for my review after this, and it is a 100+ hour RPG that I assumed was about 50. Also, I have been working full time over the past few weeks, and that has cut down on my game playing time as a result. Regardless, time to talk about a game I adored back when I played it on 3DS.
Shantae: Risky’s Revenge – Director’s Cut Review
Naturally starring the titular half genie hero, Shantae: Risky’s Revenge is actually a bit underwhelming when it comes to its story. Now, I have no problem with a hunt for a trio of magical macguffins, but it is the maneuvering from point A to point B, encountering various colorful characters who I ultimately wanted to see more due to their appealing designs and how I was interested in learning more about them. Heck, details are so scarce in the game itself that I honestly could not say what the main antagonist, Risky Boots, is seeking revenge for, as I, along with a lot of people who likely purchased this game, have not beaten the original Shantae.
It’s not a major gripe, and I would not say that I have a single one with this title, but quite a lot of its construction and minor details still end up rubbing me the wrong way. I suppose one could chop it up to me not being very good at video games, but something as simple as avoiding and attacking enemies never felt quite right to me while playing. The primary attack of whipping Shantae’s ponytail at enemies is very sluggish prior to any upgrades, and due to its easy to misjudge range, I quite frequently had enemies walk into me, which is more annoying than anything, especially if you are stubborn, like me, and do not wish to use healing items unless you are on the verge of death. Though a bit higher health drop rate could have helped amend such a thing.
However, most of my damage built up when I was exploring the game’s world, which is rather small when one actually breaks down the number of screen, but it still manages to come across as a bit cobbled together due to the layout of enemies, and the ease of travel from the game’s often oddly positioned warp points. Why exactly would you not include a warp point to your game’s hub, and instead place two a screen away in opposite directions is beyond me. And on the subject of enemies, I must ask why exactly there are ones who respawn simply by having the screen scroll. Combined with a fairly small field of vision available to the player, this made going from certain screens something of a chore, as I was pelted by projectiles from enemies I could not see.
I want to stress that these are all fairly minor dents I found in what is a very solid foundation of a game. Both moving and hitting enemies feels good, and the exploration angle works well by encouraging backtracking, and never feels cumbersome. Transformation abilities, while a bit contextual, are nice ways to keep things fresh, and I am actually very fond of the ability to purchase your own upgrades, allowing for a sense of variety through each playthrough. That said, I was honestly a bit confused as to when certain magic abilities would be useful, as shooting fireballs and setting lightning clouds that attack separately from Shantae never seemed as useful as a rotating orb that allows for a very much appreciated level of verticality in regards to attacking, as the hair whip is not very useful when up against bats. Even with bosses I found myself sticking to the rotating orbs as they appear to deal the most damage per second, while consuming the lowest amount off of my magic meter.
I honestly do not remember what some of the more powerful magic abilities look like, which is a bit of a shame when you realize just how much attention undeniably went into crafting the game’s world and characters. The spritework and animation of every character in this game is applaudable, and its world is both varied and filled with minor touches. The resolution options allow for every pixel to be seen and admired, almost making the PC version simply for that detail. That said, there were a few things that did annoy me a bit. From the menus feeling a bit artificially inserted, because they are, the depth of field effect applied to areas with multiple planes being removed, and the fact that the monkey transformation does not control very well with a control stick are all minor detractors I had with what is otherwise the definitive version of this title.
Risky’s Revenge was one of the games that actually made me want to begin reviewing games as a hobby, as even when playing it for the first time… 17 eons ago back in 2011, I felt a sense of doubt loom over me when I played the game. Is it a quality exploration based action platformer? Very much so, it is simply that a few aspects of it seem a bit sloppily done for a wide variety of reasons, seeing as how this game was probably not the easiest to push out the door. Regardless, this pretty little gem is a one I would easily recommend to just about anybody with a passing interest in it.
An applaudable effort that does get hung up on a few branches, but very much deserving of a recommendation, as the title in question is pretty great.