Shantae and the Pirates Curse (WiiU/3DS)

ShantaePiratesCurse01Shantae and the Pirates Curse is a ‘Metroidvania’ style platformer with Zelda like dungeons featuring former half-genie hero Shantae and the wacky inhabitants of Sequin Land. This is WayForward’s conclusion to the ‘original’ Shantae series that started life back in 2002 on the Gameboy Color. While the other two games are available through the eShop you don’t really need them to understand the plot of this game.

Pirates Curse continues on from the previous game and sees Shantae still determined to as ever to protect Sequin land, despite having lost her powers at the end of the Risky’s Revenge. Risky Boots quickly makes a re-appearance and tells Shantae that a former evil, the Pirate Master, is returning from beyond and plans to take control over Sequin Land. The two reluctantly decide to team up traveling to multiple islands to seek out dens of evil to recover Risky’s lost equipment and locate the grave of the Pirate Master.

Like the previous games in the series this one also adopts the ‘Metroidvania’ style while the dungeons or dens of evil follow more of a Zelda dungeon setup with each one containing a piece of Risky’s pirate gear. This gear includes a Flintlock pistol used to reach out of range switches and Risky’s hat which allows you to float while falling and catch windy updrafts to reach higher/further areas. Each island has its own secrets that can only be discovered with the relevant piece of pirate gear; these secret areas can either advance the story or contain an unlockable item. These unlockables include heart squids that can be used to upgrade your health, (like Zelda’s heart pieces but with a busty blacksmith ready to pulverise them under a giant flaming hammer) and optional bosses (Tinkerbats) that determine whether or not you receive the good or bad ending.ShantaePiratesCurse02

The game controls very well with all of the controls being well mapped out and the movements and attacks feeling very fluid. Further fighting upgrades can be purchased through Scuttle Town’s merchant to improve your standard hair whip attacks strength and speed. The merchant also includes additional attack skills, such as the power kick, which are one of the games let downs as they’re unnecessary to completing the game and feel like they have been added on as more of an afterthought. Another slight problem is that while wandering around the overworld the enemies constantly respawn, with no fast travel features to particular points on the islands, slowing down your progress significantly when revisiting locations.

The game is well written with a wacky over the top narrative and constantly funny dialogue. One such moment comes from a meeting with the Squid Baron, a former boss in Risky’s Revenge who is now suffering from ‘post boss syndrome’ and is looking for a change of scenery. This humour is also well built into the puzzle mechanics, one example of this trying is using some ham to get a dragon to drool creating a pool for two traveling tourists. The Shantae games have always boasted fantastic visuals and this game is no different, each character and environment has been perfectly detailed out with some amazing sprite animation.

The game took me about 12 hours to complete with 100% of the collectables the first time around, so you’re getting a lot out of it particularly for an eShop exclusive. Not to mention once you’ve complete Pirates Curse a new option becomes available when you start a new game called pirate mode, this means that all of the pirate gear is available from the start. This allows you to access areas of the game much earlier plus there is an extra ending bonus if you complete the game in less than 2 hours.ShantaePiratesCurse03

Pirates Curse is available on both the 3DS and Wii U with a special cross over deal meaning if you get the game on one console you can then get it 50% off on the other. The 3DS version has the game displayed through the upper screen of the 3DS with the inventory and map being displayed through the lower screen. The items in the inventory are activated by tapping on the icons on the touchscreen, which can be rather awkward while in boss fights. The 3D effect works very well in this game with a slight parallax scrolling effect, character portraits and text are also overlaid on to the scene which just adds to this effect.

The Wii U version works in the same way with the TV displaying the main view for the game and the gamepad holding Shantae’s inventory, this version also offers off screen play with you having to pause the game to access the inventory and map. The game is much more suited for the 3DS, while the Wii U version features high resolution character portraits; the game is at the same resolution as the 3DS just magnified which takes away from the pixel artwork

8.4
Shantae and the Pirates Curse is visually stunning, with some of the best 2D sprite work around. While the game has a couple of niggles the over the top narrative and humourous dialogue keeps pushing you forward.
Positives
+ Humorous and over the top narrative
+ Top notch sprite work
+ Enjoyable exploration
+ Challenging puzzles
Negatives
– Respawing enemies’ copy

This was a trial review written to see if I could adhere to the review policy and style guide GamersFTW had in place at the time. It was successful but was never actually published on the site.

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