In our review we rewind time back to the twilight of the Game Boy Color: is Shantae on Nintendo Switch still brilliant?
Our review subject , the first Shantae for Nintendo Switch , marks the second significant return of a retro handheld console on the Grande N hybrid.The first case we saw with SNK vs. Capcom: Fight of the Millennium , the first chapter of the series in which Ryu and Terry met and clashed in the ring, in the Neogeo Pocket Color Collection series of re- editions . Before that title, as it was officially declared, reopened the way for the SNK vs. Capcom , all that remained of the concept was the presence of Terry in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate .
Similarly, we now have the return of the WayForward mascot , a true flagship of the indie scene. The girl, half genie of the lamp, had truly humble origins. Its debut on Game Boy Color (and Game Boy Advance, but we’ll get there) came quietly, at a time when you couldn’t really go anywhere without a publisher. We talked in our article about how now the Capcom logo, no longer involved in the re-release of the title, has been digitally removed. The Guardian of Scuttle Town is back: will she be in shape?
Not very eighteenth-century top, pirate skull
At this point of the review we would talk about the plot … but with a title as “elderly” as the first Shantae we should make an exception for the development of the port on Nintendo Switch. However, in the article mentioned above we have said a little bit of everything there was to say in this sense, so we can talk about the narrative premise and, by extension, the tones. The basic idea is simple: the protagonist is the guardian of Scuttle Town, a port city in the kingdom of Sequin Land. The latter is as accustomed to pirate attacks as the game world is to magic.
Shantae’s adoptive father, inventor and archaeologist Mimic, balances the eternal ideological-narrative conflict between science and magic. His latest invention, the steam engine , will prove to be revolutionary for navigation, but unfortunately the infamous piratess Risky Boots has her eye on him (the engine, not Mimic). The provocative (but never too much) design of the protagonist, the antagonist and many of the supporting actors fully reflects WayForward’s amused (and often funny) approach to fanservice : an attractive wrapper for (almost) infallible gameplay.
La-Sultana – Shantae Review for Nintendo Switch
In terms of gameplay, the fulcrum of Shantae is that of a metroidvania : the platformer more devoted to exploration than to the simple challenges from a point A to a point B full of jumps, although in the review phase this little pearl for Nintendo Switch is not ever failed to put a strain on our reflexes. Contextualizing the title in the period in which it came out (or even doing without it), a lot of inventiveness and desire to stand out from the crowd emerges from the first moments of the game . Matt Bozon and the rest of the WayForward crew had definitely been right, but perhaps the game was too far ahead of its time.
Let’s cut the bull’s head: there are two versions of the game , and each of them (as revealed by the same creator of the port, Modern Vintage Gamer ) brings with it its own three save slots. For a metroidvania, the time that the title asks the player to devote to it is not little, but this has to do with the unfortunate period of debut of the game itself (the original). Unfortunately, the early 2000s saw the release of the Game Boy Advance; instead of directly switching consoles, a more advisable choice in hindsight, WayForward persisted in its vision by simply adding support to the L and R keys .
Shake your (risky) booty – Shantae review for Nintendo Switch
In reality, Shantae’s content that makes use of the “extra” buttons is not a lot, but since the Nintendo Switch port required separate slots with a quick save function we opted, as we also recommend you to do, to play the “GBA enhanced” version directly. Sadly, though, despite the lighter color scheme this incarnation doesn’t fit the more generous screen resolution of the Game Boy Advance, and this affects gameplay in one of its biggest flaws. You have probably already guessed it, but we would like to make an introduction.
Not unlike the very first Kid Icarus , we are dealing with a title that is all the more difficult the less time is spent with him. The game begins with Risky Boots’ assault on Scuttle Town, without giving the player much time to understand some gameplay rudiments . For example, a vital piece of information during the initial hustle and bustle is the “mariesque” running management: a single press to strike with Shantae’s hair, a constant to sprint. The girl’s jumps, more or less generous, require inertia , and running makes the difference between life and death very soon.
Bel mare, Belmont – Shantae review for Nintendo Switch
Speaking of the fights, the whiplash with which Shantae can use her hair to defend herself results in a not very fluid management of the clashes, which in the review phase is even more at fault considering that we are playing on Nintendo Switch. Contrary to more dynamic attacks, like Donkey Kong Country’s somersault or the spin of a random Crash Bandicoot , Scuttle Town’s Guardian completely breaks the pace of exploration whenever she has to confront an enemy, pausing in position to strike. And the margin of error for attacks is extremely small .
Since we brought up the whips, a point in Shantae’s favor and against more illustrious exponents of metroidvania like Castlevania lies in our reaction to the blows suffered. The initial six life points, although initially very low, are suddenly expendable if we consider that their loss is the only punishment for each hit suffered. There’s no bump back, and considering how close-ups of the camera make many falls into leaps of faith, that’s good. You will still have to learn to rely on quick saves, given the alternative for those who want to save in the traditional way.
You know, I just passed (remote) from here – Shantae review for Nintendo Switch
Like any self-respecting old-style metroidvania, in Shantae there are the blessed ” save points “: those sporadic points where we can catch our breath, present only in the cities and, occasionally, between a village and another. You will have lives with you , after which you run into a game over screen (we prefer the view of Risky Boots to the snout of Uka Uka, but these are details). However, the “continue” option does not take us to the area where we were defeated, but to our last save. The risk of losing progress is therefore very present, tangible and, sometimes, directly proportional to how many we have made.
Which is really a shame, since the crossings between one city and another soon become necessary for reasons of plot or shops and buildings exclusive to each location. As evidence of the most ancient game design influences, the shortcuts are also present here, but with the absurd criterion of unlocking the teleportation polyps . In each area there are four, with which the protagonist can access a special belly dance to be able to move quickly from one place to another. However, often at least one requires you to unlock something in subsequent worlds. What does it mean?
Nothing comes from diamonds – Shantae review for Nintendo Switch
Writing this Shantae review for Nintendo Switch so far has been a stab. It was also for us, but do not worry: luckily we have finished talking badly about it . Not surprisingly, we talked about a more “annoying” initial phase ; as soon as the first transformation is unlocked, the adventure opens up considerably. In an established mechanic featured in almost every sequel, the eponymous protagonist can benefit from special belly dances with which to transform into different creatures. The powers of each allow, depending on the case, to enhance an aspect between mobility and effectiveness in battle.
Let’s take the first and best known skill as an example. The simian form deprives us of any attack, true, but it also allows us to jump much higher and climb any wall . Wanting to make a comparison with The Legend of Zelda , we are not so much thinking about the masks of Majora’s Mask as about the simple unlockable shortcuts in each dungeon. In addition to opening new paths, it simplifies backtracking a thousand times for us, at first tedious and now suddenly fun . We talked in the incipit of fanservice tied to double thread with the gaming experience; we meant this.
Grinding (Risky) Boots – Shantae Review for Nintendo Switch
The game invites us to never let our guard down anyway. Transformations are not everything, in fact, and already in the second city the emporiums are starting to sell. We have equipment with which to make life easier, bracelets, rings and necklaces, as well as potions and other disposable tools . As a good metroidvania which is, in fact, Shantae does not deny role-playing elements. These, soon, will also lead us to repeat ourselves in beating enemies repeatedly so that they drop some gems. There is a night club in Scuttle Town to scrape up money with belly dancing (an idea nowadays perhaps impossible), but we will also arrive at the rhythm game parenthesis .
In this sense, the margins for improvement for our self-defense possibilities are wasted, including expansions for our health and so on. Our willingness to explore and experiment is rewarded in a commendable way (although it quickly becomes a necessity too), as each city has different advantages. The two constants remain the thermal baths , in which to regenerate in pure Kid Icarus style (coincidence?) And the aforementioned “Save room”. To access some areas, however, you must also take into account the cycle of day and night, an interesting but occasionally intrusive mechanic .
What a horrible night to have a (pirate’s) curse – Shantae review for Nintendo Switch
Shantae’s spectacular play of light of the first level was only a prelude to the alternation of day and night , perhaps less “ambitious” than the realism seen in Pokémon Gold and Silver but of undoubted impact. Outside the cities and dungeons, in fact, occasionally night will fall, or vice versa the sun will rise as the case may be. This affects the behavior of the enemies, openly more hostile at night, but it can also bring with it advantages starting from the variable accessibility of some functions, such as the aforementioned night club (appropriately open only at night ).
Among the mini-games in the game, belly dance stands out, which for a moment strips this metroidvania of its role as a platformer to make it a rhythm game . Beyond the heavy risqué implications , between the time slot in which it all happens and the fact that the gems come to us kindly, ahem , thrown by the public, it’s a great way to avoid monetary grinding to get around the thorniest corners. of the game. When this is not enough, we can rely on maps, accessible in a slightly more unusual way than other exponents of the genre.
How not to get lost in the art gallery – Shantae review for Nintendo Switch
In the main menu of the Nintendo Switch version of the first Shantae there is also the “ extras ” option , which consists of a gallery of images that we have consulted several times during the review phase. As old as they may be, the illustrative sketches along the lines of Ken “ Pokémon ” Sugimori (needless to say, fans of the series) have been carefully preserved, giving fans of the WayForward mascot the opportunity to archive them as well. Beyond the hand drawings, we can also find full sprite maps of the characters, including almost every animation of theirs.
However, we did not talk about random “maps”. Although the set of all sprites for an element is called a “map” (or spritesheet, if you want to search the web afterwards out of curiosity), the gallery also generously includes the literal maps of the four main dungeons. Perhaps the purpose of their inclusion is the mere visual impact of the scenario of a side scrolling title framed from afar. We, on the other hand, took advantage of them with great ignorance, exploiting them in tandem with quick bailouts to be able to consult them. Albeit perhaps unintentionally, this release provides more ways to manage the whole experience.
Craft Virtuosity – Shantae Review for Nintendo Switch
We are moving towards the thousand-first night of this review, evaluating the technical aspect of Shantae for Nintendo Switch. Graphically speaking , there is very little to complain: the debut of the most beloved protagonist of the WayForward house has been able to exude personality from every pixel since the first moments of the game, with sprites so characterized and expressive (just enough to dodge the portraits during the dialogues ) to make SNK’s work with Metal Slug also pale . Speaking of SNK, let’s bring up for the last time the initial confrontation with the first SNK vs. Capcom (with which it shares an excellent LCD filter): the re-edition of the WayForward house seemed to us bare in the additions (the new screen that replaces that of Capcom in the emulated game borders on minimalism), and stands up solely for the merits of the original title.
This bit of regret doesn’t touch the sound aspect at all , where Jake “Virt” Kaufman’s volcanic talent emerges . From the markedly Middle Eastern tones of the first incarnation of “Burning Town” to the more sober melodies like the interior of the dungeons, every note is in its place. On the other hand, it seems no coincidence that the same composer later moved on to larger projects ( DuckTales Remastered ) or cross-media ( Big Bad Bosses: Power Overwhelming , collaboration with four different YouTube channels). Kaufman’s debut on the digital keyboard made it clear that he was one of the big new names in the industry . Although we wouldn’t have despised an audio testto enjoy the soundtrack separately there is very little to complain about.
Shantae for Nintendo Switch, however crude, was born as a diamond right from the start. The eight euros and twenty-nine cents requested can be more or less contextualized, depending on your tastes, but if you love less linear platformers and feel up to the challenge, we can only highly recommend it. If not, we can only suggest that collectors add the game icon to the Home menu only if they have the remaining four, but honestly, fans of the series will have already done so . To embellish the hybrid version of the Grande N also contributes to the fact that the console at the moment is the only one to host the entire saga .
As a game it is a child of its time, for better or for worse. On the one hand, it far exceeded the ambition of many other games of the time. On the other hand, it’s still a 2002 title: not a bad title, but undoubtedly more aimed at existing fans . If you are not part of it, you should avoid the chronological order of the saga and start from more easily palatable titles. For those of you who have already played it on the Nintendo 3DS Virtual Console, then, the advice is directly to leave the lamp where it is . Eventually, there will be a discount to rub it in the magical cave of the Wishlist.
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