LET’S RUB THIS LAMP!
After four long years, Shantae is finally back. Last we saw of her, she was rescuing Scuttle Town in Half-Genie Hero. Things are a bit different now. Our favorite purple-haired Waifu is on vacation. In a genre I’ve lovingly dubbed “The Waifu Metroidvania”, Shantae will harness her magical prowess to defeat a new threat in this silly adventure. With her gang in tow, will she emerge victorious, or will things prove difficult? Find out in this episode of Shantae and the Seven Sirens – a review.
HUMOR, HUMOR EVERYWHERE!
I’ve always enjoyed the writing present in this franchise. It’s light-hearted and the perfect escape after a long stressful day. Now, you’ll not find narrative depth here. To be frank, the plot doesn’t take itself seriously. Instead, you’ll get a laidback, chill experience. Something I feel WayForward nailed. There‘re adult jokes hidden throughout, and most importantly, glorious puns. Hell, within the first few minutes, you’ll be bombarded. As a self-proclaimed connoisseur of dad humor, I appreciated this. Here, allow me to paint a picture.
Upon booting Shantae and The Seven Sirens up, you’ll arrive in Arena Town. Seems there’s a festival about to happen. What’s more, you aren’t the only one to have been invited. Five other Half-Genies have as well. Before the festivities begin, the mayor informs you that the other girls have gone sightseeing. Thus comes your first task; find them. With each lady found, introductions will begin, and so will those puns.
The vacation island you’re currently on boasts a Sunken City tour. It’s here that you’ll find a Half-Genie. She’s an electric vixen and able to command thunder. That much is evident by her yellow clothing and name. She’ll introduce herself as Zapple, after which she’ll question the validity of this Sunken City business. Shantae is surprised by this. Seeing your reaction, Zapple chuckles. She states that in actuality, she does believe in it. Her only reason for saying such a thing was merely for…SHOCK VALUE. Get it? Man, such an electric wit she has.
Another instance occurs not even five minutes later. As your search progresses, you’ll find yet another. This Half-Genie seems a little green. No, no, not because of sickness. You see, she’s zombified. As pleasantries are exchanged, she’ll introduce herself as Filin, Filin the Blank. See what they did? It’s because she’s undead, so she has no soul. Therefore, she’s a BLANK slate. Ha, I snorted.
Sadly, it’s not perfection throughout. As you progress, you’ll eventually encounter a dancing mini-game. The big prize is a chance to win a “heart squid”. Collect four to gain a heart
container. Since Shantae is quite agile with her hips, you’d assume this would be no problem. It wouldn’t be if it wasn’t horribly explained. I never understood the objective. At first, I thought you had to clear the board, but that proved false. I experimented a bit but every attempt was a dud. Going through the NPC explanation again didn’t clear anything up. I ultimately had to leave it behind, costing me 100% completion.
DESIGN AND CONQUER!
For those coming in from Half-Genie Hero, the overall aesthetic is pretty much identical. The visuals are hand-drawn and have a cartoony vibe. Colors are vibrant, adding to the feel good emotions the graphical fidelity induces. However, that’s neither here nor there. What really heightens the imagery aspect of Shantae and The Seven Sirens are those character designs.
I’ll say it now, Shantae is absolutely adorable. I may have a crush. The other characters are also very well done. Skye is gorgeous, and for whatever reason, I really like the uncle’s sprite. You can tell WayForward are especially proud of what they’ve done. After all, there’s a boss battle that’ll literally have you up close and personal. You’ll be able to bask in the crispness of her design. The vibrancy of the colors. The vast amount of attention to detail the artist put into her creation. Most importantly, how curvy
she is her linework is. Really quite spectacular.
In a franchise first, Shantae and The Seven Sirens indulges in cutscenes. This is probably what had me most stoked for this entry. The animation work here is well done. It reminded me just how badly I want an anime starring our favorite purple-haired half-genie. So, you can imagine my disappointment when I came to see how scarce they are. It reminded me of the early years when cutscenes were a brand new concept. They were sporadically spread across a title. One such example that springs to mind is Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete and it’s sequel Eternal Blue. Their usage was still a welcome addition, don’t get me wrong. I just wish they were more predominant.
I WHIP MY HAIR BACK AND FORTH!!
Being a Waifu Metroidvania, the game-play loop is nothing complicated. You’ll be running through enemies by weaponizing your hair. There are challenging sections of platforming too. Sections that I had trouble with because I’m impatient. Puzzles are simple and never gave me any trouble. Think of this as a Zelda Lite.
So, I’ve always loved the Metroidvania formula of repeating sections. It gives a brand new car smell to older spots. Aside from widening the explorable area, there’re also caves scattered about. Caves with secrets that require specific powers to access. My gripe is not being able to visually tell which cave still needs completing once I have the means. If I wanted to achieve 100%, I had to venture through the entire island and enter every cavern. It was tedious and kind of infuriating. I’ll admit I could circumvent this issue by taking a picture. Thing is, there were many times I’d forget to. I’d be so focused on my next objective that photos were the further thing from my mind.
Now, I’m a collector. I vastly prefer physical to digital. I love Pokémon cards as well. Shantae introduces a mechanic that while not original, is immensely fun. It also deals in cards. When you combat any enemy in the game, they have a chance to drop a monster card. Each unique one has a perk. From granting higher potency to your spells to being able to regenerate your magic bar. It’s important to keep in mind that sometimes, you’ll be asked to collect several duplicates before unlocking the perk. My only complaint is that there were some cards that I never used. The upgrade wasn’t worth it to me. Don’t let this truth deter you from collecting. Do it. You’ll want that 100% completion.
A MUSICAL SPELL!!
Shantae is known for having great music, and this entry doesn’t stray from the trend. It goes so well with the cartoony aesthetic of the art style. However, in my opinion, those that played Half Genie Hero will be disappointed. Don’t get me wrong, my earholes were still pleased. I just wasn’t in awe with the music in Shantae and The Seven Sirens. That said, the opening theme was, as the kids say, the bomb diggity. It resembled an anime, and now I want one.
Hey WayForward, how about it?
THE MAGICAL VERDICT IS…
Shantae and The Seven Sirens is fun at its purest form. The characters are charming, and will usually deliver the giggles. The gameplay while simple has challenging platforming. I couldn’t tell you how many times I fell to my death because I was impatient. I like to go fast and furious. The environmental art is vibrant, and the design of characters are imaginative. Oh, and the Half-Genies. Yeah, those designs are especially wonderful.
It’s worth noting that while Shantae and the Seven Sirens isn’t especially long, it does have a substantial bit of replay value. There are special unlockables if you can complete certain conditions. At around 9 hours per run, it’s the perfect way to pass the time if you have a spare hour or two. Furthermore, there’s an option to make the game much harder for those seeking a real test. Between all of this and the stellar characters, I easily say these eight words. Yes, eight, one word less and it would have been funny how it worked out.
SHANTAE AND THE SEVEN SIRENS IS HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
The game can be purchased digitally for PC via Humble Bundle or Steam. It can be purchased digitally for the PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, or XBox One via the console stores.
Many thanks go to the publisher WayForward for a review code for this title.
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Painfully single, but still somehow a master of dad jokes. If asked, he’ll answer it’s for his inner child. Fabio enjoys JRPG’s and has embraced his anime love.