Shantae: Half-Genie Hero is a retro 2.5D platformer by Wayforward. It has been available for a while now but the Ultimate Edition marks it the first time you can now enjoy all of the post-launch DLC for the game in a single package. As it originated with a Kickstarter pitch, there were some backer-exclusive rewards for Shantae: Half-Genie Hero that never made their way to the public until the launch of this Ultimate Edition.
If you have already played Shantae: Half-Genie Hero, there is still plenty of value to be had with the Ultimate Edition. It features almost half dozen new gameplay modes and adds fresh characters and two story expansions with the pirate Risky Boots making her debut. She not only gets her own story mode, there are also some gameplay changes made including a gear-based ability system in this DLC.
Shantae: Half-Genie Hero was a fun platformer that evoked the memories of metroidvania games. Shantae was able to transform into a variety of different animals that granted her different abilities. She is able to use this power of transformation with her belly dancing skills. Initially, you will have most of transformations locked until you progress further in the story. The game will gradually unlock the transformations that can also lead you to backtrack through an already finished level in order to discover secrets.
One thing that I didn’t like in my time with the game was how the combat felt rather tame. Shantae is able to use her hair as a whip to attack enemies, however the animation never feels like it actually connects. It is not as satisfying to pull this move in combat. Compared to Shantae, Risky Boots feels much better to control in the actual game. She is infact my favorite character and I found her a lot more fun than Shantae.
If you have already played the original Shantae, chances are that you will enjoy the ‘Pirate Queen’s Quest’ expansion. It is set after the events of the main game and the narrative is told through the perspective of Risky Boots. She has her own moves to use in combat that set her apart from Shantae. The levels are repeated here but the design is usually different enough that you won’t feel the repetition.
This is followed by the ‘Friends to the End’ expansion which introduces Rottytops, Bolo and Sky. They are not just simple character swaps but come with their own abilities. Sky can glide through the air by using birds as platforms, Bolo is able grapple and swing from hooks while Rottytops can throw her head. The story this time is set during the events of dynamo corrupting the mind of Shantae. This leads Shantae’s friends on a journey to enter her mind in order to save her. It is not a bad expansion although I don’t think it was as fun as Pirate Queen’s Quest.
There are plenty of new gameplay modes to keep you occupied if you are done with the whole game including expansions. You have 3 new types of costumes DLC that all offer a distinct gameplay style. First there is the beach mode that features Shantae on a fun adventure with an arcade-style design and unique beach outfit. She has to avoid getting sunburn which will require her to keep her skin hydrated. Ninja mode is a fast paced action platformer while Officer relies more on a puzzle based structure. Each costume results in unique abilities for Shantae. She can dash around quickly as a Ninja or throw beach balls with the Beach costume.
If you want to replay the game but with all powers unlocked, there is a new hero mode that has all the transformations unlocked from the beginning. Those who want more challenge can try the hardcore mode with a classic design. There should be more than enough content that even those who have already played the game might enjoy it again with the new additions.
Shantae: Half-Genie Hero Ultimate Edition Review (Switch)
Game Reviewed on: Switch
Game description: Save the day as belly dancing half-genie Shantae! Conquer Sequin Land as the evil Risky Boots in 'Pirate Queen's Quest'! Swap between Sky, Bolo, and Rottytops in 'Friends to the End!' And finally, wall-jump as Ninja Shantae, soak up sun as Beach Shantae, serve justice as Officer Shantae!
There is a lot of value in this new Ultimate Edition that not only adds 2 story expansions, it also improves the replay value of the game by introducing 3 different looking costumes adding new abilities for Shantae.