Originally released last year and a half ago on Nintendo’s handheld, developers WayForward have brought the latest Shantae adventure to the PS4 with Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse. Featuring improved 2D Metroidvania style exploration gameplay, crisp pixel visuals, a bigger screen to play on, and an entertaining and often funny plot, is Shantae’s latest adventure worth your time?
Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse
Developed and published by WayForward Technologies
Available on the 3DS, PC, PS4, Wii U and Xbox One. Reviewed on the PS4.
*Review code provided by WayForward
Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse takes place immediately after the events of Risky’s Revenge, with half-genie and protagonist Shantae losing her genie powers in the previous game. With the mysterious Pirate Master infecting Risky’s soldiers and threatening to return and wreak havoc, the former rivals must join forces if they want to stop the powerful threat.
As expected of the series, the plot in Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse is cartoonish and straightforward enough for kids, but it’s also good fun for adults as well thanks to the often funny dialogue and cheeky references that’ll have you chuckle more than once. It’s a short and quick ride, but it’s definitively one that you’ll enjoy the whole way through.
The visuals are also nice, transitioning quite well from the small screen of the 3DS to the TV screen. The detailed pixel visuals of the original look fantastic on the big screen, and the still art and text has been retouched to look sharp with the higher resolutions. It’s a good looking game that harkens back to the good old SNES days, so any fans of classic 16-bit games will dig the aesthetic.
Now, if you’ve missed out on the original 3DS release or any of the subsequent versions, Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse takes the Metroidvania style of gameplay from earlier entries and takes it up a notch, making a superb and sweet adventure. Strictly on one plane this time around (as opposed to some plane hopping in the previously entry), players take control of a powerless Shantae as she and her nemesis Risky travel across islands seeking tools to seal capture and seal away the Pirate’s power. Shantae is initially armed with the usual 2D platformer tools of the trade, including her usual hair whip attack and jump, which are responsive and control nicely. She also has access to a number of tools that can aid her, like a shield, potions, buffs that improve her attack and more, as long as players can buy them in the game shop or collect them on the field. Players then proceed to travel across the game world which is divided into areas, and explore unique lands and dungeons in order to take down bosses, get new items and unlock new places to go to.
As an exploration adventure game however, going about the world is not a linear affair, and players will often have to enter and revisit places as areas are often locked or inaccessible and require players to acquire new items or abilities. Most of these items – which formerly belonged to pirate rival Risky – add to Shantae’s initially small moveset by adding new skills or attacks, and are often required to complete puzzles in dungeons, meaning you’ll need to find them if you want to move. This makes for some exciting and often entertaining gameplay, as players will discover new challenges and secrets as Shantae grows, complete fun side quests and discover hidden areas, complete puzzles and collect keys, and use their new moves on pattern-based bosses. There’s even some gameplay variation at times to keep things interesting, with players getting by using stealth, or carrying a NPC as they run through a gauntlet of obstacles. There are seven different islands to explore and plenty of visiting on each of them, so players will find plenty to do.
If there’s one quirk about the PS4 version (I’m assuming the PC and Xbox One versions have it as well), it’s that the second screen menu implementation is okay but a bit inefficient. Here players need to press a button to briefly pause the game and pull up the menus, and then scroll left and right to access three different screens (map, inventory, and collectables) pulled straight from the 3DS. It would have been nice if all three menus could have been worked into just one, or perhaps have been incorporated into an in-game hud of sorts, but it’s unfortunately a 1:1 port that feels a bit unnecessary. It works just fine, don’t get me wrong, but when you’re often checking where you need to go and have to access your items quite a bit, it occasionally becomes a small bother.
Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse is an excellent game in the 3DS’ library, and now fans and newcomers can finally enjoy it on the PS4. With outstanding Metroidvania-style gameplay, a colorful and fun story, and gorgeous 2D visuals, it’s a great old-school platforming adventure that you shouldn’t miss.