Content of the article: "Shantae: Half Genie Hero Ultimate Edition: A fun adventure, but with a lot of backtracking"
Half Genie Hero is like playing a Saturday morning cartoon. The 2016 game opted for an animated style rather than the traditional pixelated one. Combat is fun and fast paced with multiple forms to navigate the platforming which can be challenging at times. Despite having too backtrack a lot to previous levels, WayForward makes the most of what they were given and turned out a charming adventure with a colorful cast of characters.
If you were wanting to start a Shantae game then Half Genie Hero is the one to start with, it is a great jumping on point and doesn’t require much knowledge from the previous games. The story is pretty simple: gather the parts your Uncle needs for his newest invention which you will obtain from either defeating the bosses or from the townsfolk in exchange for other items. There are only six levels and a hub area, that may not seem like a lot, but when you obtain new forms and new abilities you will have to go back to previous areas that were previously unaccessible like a Metroidvania. Some might not agree with me, but I like this approach, it gives you an opportunity to grind more gems to buy more magic abilities and to look for more hearts and transformations. If you’re going to backtrack then at least it will be worth your time.
The transformations are many and some are more useful than others. The Elephant, Mermaid, Crab, and Monkey I found myself using the most, because most situations required them to solve puzzles or for exploration. The Mouse, Spider, and Bat I used only once or twice. The Harpy was one of my two favorites, the Harpy is low key game breaking as you can fly over the enemies and the platforms, but you don’t obtain until way late in the game. It did help me fight the final boss as I just kept attacking from the air avoiding all of the enemy attacks on the ground. It is definitely the most useful form. My other personal favorite form was the Sophia III where she literally transforms into the vehicle from Blaster Master. The act of transforming itself is something I have a nitpick on. In order to transform you have to hold down a button, wait for that transformation to appear and then select it with the D-pad. It would have been more fun to use inputs like in the original Gameboy game.
The game doesn’t end with the main story. There is a ton of DLC, “Pirate Queen’s Quest” where you play as Risky Boots and “Friends to the End” where you play as Sky, Bolo, and Rottytops all for the first time in the series history. You will be playing the exact same levels, but the developers do add more puzzles and platforms for a little extra challenge and every one has a completely different play style and have different mechanics entirely. In “Friends to the End” in order to level up you have to collect gems, but every time you get you lose said gems and your level goes down, akin to when Sonic loses his rings. And unlike say DMC4 where when you play as Lady and Trish you’re just replaying the game with no new cutscenes, in the DLC’s case there is a narrative reason as to why you are replaying the same levels. Plus there is new dialogue to go along these stories, WayForward could have easily just allowed players to replay the main game with different characters, but sought to instead crafted new stories with the new characters. There is also the costume pack which contains “Ninja Mode”, “Officer Mode”, “Beach Mode”, and “Jammie Mode” all of them have a retelling of the campaign and completely changes Shantae’s play style. Ninja Mode was the most entertaining as you see Shantae adorkably trying to master the ways of a ninja
As far as voice acting goes it is such a shame that there is so little of it because in the rare moments when the characters do speak everyone was casted perfectly. Especially with top voice talent like Cherami Leigh as Rottytops, Karen Strassman as Sky, and Cristina Valenzuela as Shantae and Risky Boots. Valenzuela standouts as Risky Boots (well mostly because Risky has the most voiced lines) and she is just so deliciously evil as our main antagonist. Usually I would dock a game points for not being fully voiced, but the reality of it is that it didn’t reach the stretch goal for it so I can’t hold it against WayForward.
I’m happy that I gave Half Genie Hero a play through, like I said the backtracking might not be for everyone, but there is plenty of other content for you to try out. For $30 I’d say you get your moneys worth.
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