So, Shantae: Half-Genie Hero is out now to the general public, and holy shit is it everything I had hoped for. As hypey as that sounds, what I was literally “hoping for” was “more of the same with another layer of refinement.” Wayforward’s been a company I’ve enjoyed following a while now since they manage to slip out original titles that show a clear personal investment in between licensed products that they still put a good effort in where I imagine a lot of companies would be content to just cash in. Who the hell would get the license to a Harvey comic strip and think to turn it into a Metalstorm clone?
Lately I just really find myself being drawn to examples of series that genuinely improve on themselves over time. Shantae for the GBC was okay, but plagued by blind jumps and probably a few too many moves for only two buttons. Risky’s Revenge was a solid little game, though it showed some signs of ideas that didn’t get quite fleshed out (the multi-layered town and forest areas, the awkward map chiefly.) Pirate’s Curse was another solid step up, enough so that her pirate equipment was easier and more fun to use than her transformation dances to the point I was actually kinda worried about what her having her powers back ruining Half Genie Hero.
Well, luckily that’s not the case and I’m enjoying the heck out of it. It’s structured in kind of an ‘episodic’ feel with each short story netting a piece of Uncle Mimic’s latest machine to set up the final chapter with Risky inevitably swiping to nobody’s real surprise. The jokes are mostly pretty funny, the animation is gorgeous, and backtracking is made more palatable by the levels usually changing to remove the more obnoxious hazards from the first time around and changing enemy types. If you find yourself stuck in a level you can whistle for Sky to pick you up, even if it makes no sense like your being on a waterslide or in an underwater cavern polymorphed into a crab. So yeah, I’m stoked- a long-awaited crowd funded game release that’s actually really good. That’s one point for 2016.