With Shantae: Half-Genie Hero, the legendary belly dancer arrives for the very first time on the PS Vita. After Shantae (2002), Shantae: Risky’s Revenge (2010) and Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse (2014), it is the fourth installment in the Shantae series and also the first full HD aventure. And it’s true, this game looks amazing.
In Shantae: Half-Genie Hero, Scuttle Town is in danger of the pirate queen Risky Boots who wants to take over the Dynamo, a limitless source of power recently discovered by Shantae’s uncle Mimic. But that’s not all, criminal minds are doing villainy all across Sequin Land, and our half-genie hero’s job is to help her uncle to get the components for his machine and to free the land from all evil.
The adventure begins in Scuttle Town which is the central hub of the game. From here you will visit the other worlds once they become available while you progress the story. There is also an item shop to buy Relics to upgrade Shantae’s abilities and powers. In the bath house you can ask a lady for clues what to do next. It’s good to ask the people in the street as well as they also give helpful details. An unlockable art gallery showcases bonus content with lots of concept and fan art.
Shantae uses her hair whip-attack to fight enemies as well as extra weapons and powers like Fireball or Shield which consumes Magic. She also can move some objects with her hair to reach higher platforms. With activating the Belly Dance, she can turn into different characters like a monkey to jump higher and climb up walls or a crab to go under water. Throughout the adventure, Shantae will find more Belly Dances for new forms or also to summon special magic.
Enemies drop hearts that refill Shantae’s Heart Meter or gems that can be used in the item shop to buy upgrades and weapons. Some enemies also drop items like meat or eggs that Shantae can eat to gain health or magic or are needed to advance the story. All worlds have to be visited several times when new transformations become available to explore formerly unreachable areas. The Warp Dance from the item shop is a nice tool that you can jump between the segments of an already cleared world.
Shantae: Half-Genie Hero offers lots of variety with its five different worlds, each with a unique setting and many items to collect. Every world has an end boss and after beating it, you will get a new Belly Dance which will unlock a new transformation form. Generally, it’s very entertaining to explore the world of Sequin Land as the platform action is not too difficult and most of the stages are well balanced. With the game’s Relic system you can adjust Shantae’s power and magic as you like.
There are a few frustrating moments in the game, for example when you have to jump on moving blocks in the right moment or when you slide down a hill which is nearly impossible to master in the first place. The game’s clue system also has its weakness as sometimes the object is unclear or the bath lady gives you a clue to an object you have already passed which may result to get stuck. All end bosses are quite logic to master except the final boss which can give you a headache as the game gives you no clue how to beat it.
Shantae: Half-Genie Hero looks amazing with its hand-drawn sprites and its colorful backgrounds. WayForward has done an incredible job as it runs and plays very smooth on the PS Vita. The music by Jake Kaufman is excellent as well and fits perfectly to the charming and humorous story. Loading is very quick and to complete the story takes around 7-8 hours. To collect all items and secrets it should take 1 – 2 hours more. After beating the game there is a new Hero mode which lets you replay the adventure with the main transformations already unlocked. Another new mode will be available as a DLC some time in the future.
Shantae: Half-Genie Hero is visually amazing and recommended to all who love platformers. There are a few frustrating moments and the clue system is not always helpful, but the game is worth playing for its beautiful graphic alone.
The review was written by Michael. All screenshots are from the PS Vita version.