With Shantae dancing through the danger in three games on the Switch, it was only a matter of time until WayForward decided to port another title in the series. Originally released on the DSi in 2011, Shantae: Risky’s Revenge – Director’s Cut is just as enjoyable as it was all that time ago.
The nasty pirate Risky Boots has stolen a magic lantern from Shantae’s uncle, who claims that it’s capable of causing a lot of trouble. It needs three magic seals to be used, though, so the plucky half-genie must track them down before her arch-rival nabs them. You can expect the series’ goofy sense of humour, along with a few touching moments, in this one. Plus, there’s an ensemble cast of memorable characters with memorable designs and likeable personalities as well.
Shantae’s series of games have always looked beautiful, and this one still ain’t an exception! It has detailed pixel art with some slick animations, vibrant colours and speedy loading times. The peppy chiptune-esque soundtrack by Jake Kaufman may be a bit lower in audio-quality than the later games, likely due to the limitations of the DSi at the time, but it contributes to the retro-chique feel of the game. There’s so many toe-tapping tunes to enjoy, like the Burning Town theme and the many overworld songs, not to mention the surprisingly soothing sounds you’ll hear in Tangle Forest.
When you start your adventure, you’ll be able to explore Scuttle Town, where you’ll receive occasionally-useful information and directions from Shamtae’s chums, and can buy potions and spells from the shop. You’ll have to do a bit of back-and-forth exploring around the many zones that you’ll come across. Thankfully, warp zones will help make backtracking in the overworld a lot faster. Plus, some areas allow you to leap back and forth into parts of the foreground and background in a seamless transition via jump pads, which is a nifty trick.
The designs on each level are up to snuff for a Metroidvania title like this one. Plenty of secrets are there to be uncovered with Shantae’s unlockable animal abilities, each of which will help her explore the environment further. They’re perfect additions, as they’ll have you exploring each environment, looking for any previously inaccessible areas to uncover. It’s difficult to get enough of that gratifying feeling when you uncover a key or quest item with these abilities. Speaking of difficulty, it’s easy to get confused by the layout of some of the dungeons, which are quite lengthy and have numerous different doors and passageways.
Combat is great fun in this one. Aside from her animal abilities, which are quite effective against a lot of enemies, you can purchase three upgradable spells that’ll allow you to blast fire, summon storm clouds, or defend yourself with a spinning Pike Ball. They’re all effective in their own way, and some of them are stronger against certain foes. Her trademark attack is to whip baddies with her luscious, purple hair, and that can be upgraded to be faster and stronger as well. Plus, there are items to purchase from the shop to keep you pepped up at all times, should you have enough gems.
It should be said that, while Shantae: Risky’s Revenge – Director’s Cut runs on the Switch without any real issues, it’s not a flawless entry, and has a few other setbacks that were remedied in the later titles, but otherwise remain here. For starters, the map is only accessible via the aforementioned fast travel points. It’s fairly clear to understand where certain landmarks are, but you’d best take a screenshot just to familiarize yourself with the layout. You won’t be given any reminders about where to go or what to do if you forget, unless you head back to town and chat with people there, which can be tedious. Plus, it’s not quite as fast-paced as the later entries, but that can simply take a bit of time to get used to, is all.
Shantae: Risky’s Revenge – Director’s Cut is a mesmerizing Metroidvania, and makes for a perfect starting point for newcomers in the series, thanks to its luscious visuals, witty writing, upbeat soundtrack and incredibly satisfying gameplay. There’s still a few scuffles that hamper the fun, but only to a small extent. Playing it on the Switch is easily the best option in 2020, as not only does it run flawlessly, but the console’s own bells and whistles only makes jumping back in and out of the title at any time much more convenient. Swiping this one up is certainly no risky decision, as it’s a fantastic adventure that you’ll no doubt love to bits.
Review code supplied by developer.