Overview – developed and published by WayForward, Shantae: Risky’s Revenge – Directors Cut is an enhanced version of the classic Nintendo DSi Metroidvania title. This updated release features challenging platforming, large scale boss battles and a new Magic Mode. Shantae: Risky’s Revenge – Directors Cut is available on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Microsoft Windows. Links to each version will be available at the bottom of this review.
Disclaimer: before I get into the review, I want to thank WayForward for providing the copy of Shantae: Risky’s Revenge – Directors Cut that was used for this piece. the provision of this title has not influenced the contents of this review, all thoughts and opinions expressed within are my own.
Now with the introductions out of the way, let’s get into the review, starting with the story.
Story – taking place after the events of the first game (Shantae for Game Boy Color), Shantae the Half-Genie and her friends attend the annual Relic Hunters Expo. During the event, Shantae watches as her Uncle Mimic reveals his latest find, a lamp encased in stone. Shortly after the lamp is freed from the stone, the Pirate Risky Boots crashes the party and steals the lamp, knocking Shantae out during the ruckus she makes her escape.
After waking up, Shantae is blamed for the theft by the Mayor and fires her as the Guardian of Scuttle Town. Despite no longer being a Guardian Genies, Shantae takes it upon herself to stop Risky Boots from fulfilling her ambitions. Learning that the lamp is magical from her Uncle, Shantae sets out on a quest to collect three magic seals that are hidden in Sequin Land. With the help of her friends and her own magical abilities, Shantae must find the seals, stop Risky Boots and save her home town.
Gameplay – the gameplay for Risky’s Revenge follows the traditional Metroidvania style with an interconnected map, puzzles to solve and secrets to uncover. As Shantae, you travel across Sequin Land, battling dangerous monsters, exploring perilous dungeons and completing quests as you try to stop Risky Boots. Exploration is encouraged throughout the map as there are many treasures to discover, rewarding players for returning to previously discovered areas as the story progresses.
The player has access to a limited move set at the beginning of the game, with Shantae being able to climb, jump and use her hair as a whip. As the game progresses, the player is able to purchase spells/items using gems collected from defeating enemies and given by NPC characters. Shantae can also find special Dance Magic, allowing her to transform into animals to aid exploration and puzzle solving during the adventure.
The world can be separated into three zone types that function independently from each other. Here is a brief summary of each type of zone that Shantae will encounter;
- Scuttle Town – this is the home town for Shantae, where she can buy items, talk with friends and get clues on where to go next. Be sure to revisit the town often as restocking items is essential to succeeding in the quest ahead.
- Overworld – this is where the majority of gameplay takes place, with enemies spawning almost endlessly when moving between each screen. While moving around each area, use special direction markers to jump into the background and foreground, allowing further exploration of each zone (the jump markers are also in the town). There is also a warp system within the overworld, allowing for quick movement between locations.
- Dungeons and Caves – when inside the dungeons each area is self-contained, with puzzles, secret passages and many treasures to obtain. While inside these zones, pots will be placed around the areas, containing gems, health ups and magic potions to collect.
While travelling through Sequin Land, many enemies will block your path trying to stop you from achieving your goal, so make sure to save often during exploration to prevent losing progress. Each area has monsters that are native to that location, with some that cross over depending on the situation. There will also be stronger versions of some enemies, signaled by a change in color pallet, this is a good way to indicate that the threat is intensified.
There is a minor issue with the way that enemies function however. Monsters will respawn almost endlessly in some places, this can overwhelm the player and cause death quickly if they are low on health. This is made slightly worse during the early parts of the game as attack speed can be slow, although the issue with attack speed can be alleviated by purchasing special upgrades from the shop.
At specific points the player will encounter large scale boss battles, these include a large pirate ship that fires cannonballs and a big squid that summons baby squids to fall on Shantae. These battles add to the variety of the gameplay, giving depth to the overall experience on offer from Risky’s Revenge. Just make sure to pick up lots of health and magic potions from the town shop, because if you are defeated during a battle with an enemy or boss, you are sent back to the previous save point.
Hidden throughout the game world are caves that the player can explore, functioning similar to the games dungeons with puzzles to solve and treasures to obtain. The treasure that can be found include Magic Jam, a special collectable that can be used for upgrades and heart holders that increase Shantae’s health. The hidden treasures, collectible items and cave puzzles provide a reason for players to return to areas that have been explored previously, giving more for the player to do outside of the main story content.
The last thing I want to talk about is the special Magic Mode. Upon clearing the game, a new mode will be made available to play through the story again, adding an additional challenge to the game by reducing the amount of magic used for spells at the cost of defensive power. This special mode adds more replay value to the overall experience, giving a reason to come back to the game after clearing it once before.
Now with the gameplay covered while avoiding spoilers, I will be moving onto the other aspects of the game, starting with the controls.
Controls – the control method for Risky’s Revenge is simple and works well in both hand held and docked mode. The inputs are responsive and smooth for the most part, with the only issue being the slightly awkward Dance Magic activation inputs, as they can be inconsistent at times. Other than that, this title performs well, platforming in precise, combat is snappy and there are no issues with input lag in general.
Difficulty – there is a moderate difficulty curve for this release in the main game mode, offering an enjoyable experience for players of all skill levels. To ease the overall challenge if it is too difficult, players are able to grind for gems while close to Scuttle Town, earning enough quickly to stock up on healing items and spells. Magic Mode is tougher than the standard game, reducing the amount of hits the player can take in exchange for more magic to be used.
Presentation – visually, Risky’s Revenge is pleasing to look at, with detailed sprites, vibrant backgrounds and details that scroll with the player’s movements. The animations are fluid and smooth, along with flawless graphical performance during gameplay. The art used for character interactions has that distinct WayForward charm, with unique designs that allow characters to stand out on their own.
The soundtrack is a delight, featuring chip tune styled compositions that have bright Arabian themes, contrasting well with the more brooding and intense sounds. There is a lack of voice acting during the game, however this isn’t an issue as I feel the way that the story is told works very well. The visuals and sound meshing well together to create a fun and engaging experience for all.
Final Thoughts – I really enjoyed my time playing Shantae: Risky’s Revenge. The game was slow to get started as I found the respawning enemies to be an inconvenience, but after this initial frustration the flow of gameplay picked up and everything was smooth sailing. The puzzles are just tough enough to take a few moments to solve, the boss battles are fun and the right level of challenge. The story was engaging and features a cast of vibrant characters that are a delight to encounter.
I can happily recommend this game to anyone, the game isn’t too difficult giving players of all skill levels the opportunity to clear the game. I will say that it may be a little frustrating at times as it can be very easy to get lost, but this isn’t a major issue as there is a map to guide the player. Shantae: Risky’s Revenge is an excellent title from WayForward, a fantastic title truly deserving of another chance to be seen by a brand new audience, especially for such a low price.
In the end, I give Shantae: Risky’s Revenge – Directors Cut, a score of 4.5/5. This is a delightful Metroidvania style release that anyone can pick up and enjoy, with a wonderful cast of characters, vibrant locations and lots of fun to be had. The content on offer for the modest price is a bonus, providing hours of fun in a cost effective package. If you want to check this title out for yourself, links to each version will be available below.
Link to Nintendo Switch version (HERE)
Link to PlayStation 4 version (HERE)
Link to Xbox One version (HERE)
Link to Steam version (HERE)
Link to GOG version (HERE)