Shantae: Risky's Revenge - Directors Cut Review (NSW)
Updated: May 2
Release Date: Oct 15th, 2020
*Game provided for this review by publisher
Shantae: Risky's Revenge Directors Cut is an adventure platformer developed and published by WayForward. Originally released on Nintendo DS on October 4th, 2010, a day that is extremely important and memorable to me, 4th of October that is, Risky's Revenge became the second entry into the now hugely popular Shantae franchise. Having gotten nothing but critical acclaim from nearly every major media outlet upon its release, yes, even IGN, which is surprising since this game has a decent amount of water and we know they hate that stuff -- WayForward now attempts to bring that magic back on modern consoles for a new generation of fans to enjoy. But does this game grant all our wishes? or should it be left to hide in its lamp forever? Well, grab your glass of lemonade and sip that mr pibb, because it's time let this genie in a bottle out and answer all our questions. So poof!
It's time for the annual Relic Hunter's Expo, an event for anyone and everyone to come show off all their major hauls that they have managed to find or dig up. Things are all proceeding just as expected, that is until Uncle Mimic unearths an old and mysterious lamp that houses many powers. But just as everyone is trying to come to grips to what has just been found, an old rival appears before you once more in her pirate ship and steals the lamp away. It's the dastardly Risky, she's back and now in possession of this old mysterious lamp, but to the horrors of Shantae and the rest of the attendees, Risky knows exactly what it is and how to use its powers. It's now up to Shantae to travel across the land of Sequin and learn the full mystery of the lamp before Risky can put into motion her evil plot.
Shantae: Risky's Revenge Directors Cut is a adventure platformer that really should be categorized more so as a Metroidvania over anything else if you want to truly give it a fitting label. At its core, Risky's Revenge is pretty basic in the game play department compared to later entries into the franchise, but that's not a slight against the game, far from it. With this game only being the second game into the franchise, it really was still trying to find out what formula it wanted to use and it was still trying to find its own unique identity... and clearly it worked because here we are 10 years later talking about a once small indie franchise, now turned into a powerhouse of a series. Maybe WayForward really did find a genie and get granted three wishes, because if one of them was to have the Shantae series have longevity in the industry, it damn sure was granted.
Earlier I gave you a run down on the story, but to be perfectly honest, you can just throw all of that out of the window because aside from what I mentioned before, there is no real overall emphasis on the story once you get going. As you start the game, the main focus becomes squarely on game play alone as you move left to right in your 2D environment to find your next objective. As Shantae, your main form of attack when starting off is using your hair to whip and damage nearby enemies using the Y button to attack, B button to jump and L1 to do a backwards slide to avoid incoming enemy attacks. All pretty straight forward right? well yeah it is, for now at least, for you see there are many more game play elements to come.
Throughout the roughly 4 to 5 hour playthrough, you will journey through a variety of different areas that include environments such as deserts, forest areas, and even undersea caverns. Normally that would seem like a ''Yeah, so what? great I guess?'' moment and normally you would be right for saying that, however, this IS a metroidvania style of game, so each area has far more significance than you would originally think due to the way you have to explore each area in vastly different ways due to the utilization of the game play mechanic, form transformation. With form transformation, this ability allows you to take shape and form of specific animals to aid you in your quest to find the three magic seals. These transformations include an elephant, mermaid or a monkey.
For instance should you come to an area in the game that seems impossible to get up to or a platform that just seems too high, this is where your monkey transformation would come into play. Once was an area that was completely blocked off to you, now allows you to advance by using the climbing ability of the monkey as you climb all over the walls or wall jump to make it to your destination. While on the other side you also have the mermaid transformation that allows you to traverse through deep under water caverns to find any secrets or complete a main objective needed to advance in the story. From what would've been a normal cookie cutter 2D platformer game, now opens up into something that makes you feel like you have total creative freedom to explore at your own free will.
As you move forward with your new abilities you gain the further you move along, you're rewarded with boosts to your overall health, attacks and animal transformations once you complete a dungeon or one of its many boss fights. But beating dungeons isn't the only way to get new abilities or upgrades because you can also go to in town shops to purchase stuff as well, but I would highly NOT recommend actually doing that, especially on your first play through because purchasing from the store makes the game vastly easier, more so than it already is, if im going to be honest, so try to control the impulse to buy.
In comparison to the original title, this version of Risky's Revenge actually expands upon the original games vision with a better traverse system that makes it easy to fast travel to areas that normally would've had you waiting, waiting, and waiting. But where it got a few things right, a few other additions or lack there of, was put into its place. While yes, traversing is easier here, its still not quite where we need it to be due to the game not marking on your map the places you have previously been and saving them. For instance, if you make it to the far end of the map and explore around for an objective, there isn't an indication of you actually being there, which in turn makes you re-search areas you've already been to should you forget that you did. Couple into it the fact that there is also no map system for the dungeons themselves and you have a headache on your hands.
When you're not completely lost and manage to find your way out of these dungeons, you will be greeted to my favorite parts of the game, the boss fights. These are the real stars of the game in my own opinion because of the charm and creativity shown by the developers. From fighting a giant pirate ship, that's actually ALIVE, where you must dodge projectiles such as cannon balls and damage it via exploding barrels, to a giant cute little one tooth squid that tries to crush you from above with other little squids. The fights are very creative and a lot of fun and personally are my highlight of the game.
After you complete the main story, you unlock a new mode called Magic Mode. This mode acts like a new game plus mode which allows you to go into your next play through completely overpowered and when I say over powered, I'm talking Jafar genie level of over powered, YES, THE ABSOLUTE POWER. Well wait, not exactly, because yes you get heightened magic abilities that does make you super strong, but in return for having that power, your defense is severely slashed and every enemy hits you twice as hard as they previously did. Something that once killed you in 4 to 5 attacks might now kill you in about 2 to 3. This should be considered a middle ground between easy mode and a hard mode, definitely for people that are up for the challenge.
When taking a step back and looking at this title and comparing it to the current Shantae games out on the market, such as Seven Sirens or Half Genie Hero, it might feel like the game doesn't go far enough, but if you judge it by the era it was released in and judge it on its own merits without comparing, then I feel you will be genuinely surprised with what you play. From its upgraded HD portraits, to its changes to its navigation system with fast travel, its great environments to explore and secrets to uncover, to the new magic mode that allows you to get many more hours of enjoyment out this title than you were able to previously, it's not hard to see why kids love cinnamon toast crunch... wait, no, I mean, it's not hard to see why this franchise continues to be loved till this day.
It's by no means a perfect game, with imperfections shoved right in your face with the lack of map for dungeons, lack of tracking progress in areas you've previously traversed, which can actually hinder your experience should you be stuck in one spot for long periods of time, shows that the game should've got a few more changes in this directors cut, but overall, I wouldn't say its a deal breaker.
For a price tag of $9.99, I personally feel this title is worthy of that price and believe I'm totally safe in recommending it to anyone wanting to get into this franchise or long time fans who may not have touched it just yet. So with that verdict, GameNChick says.
Shantae: Risky's Revenge Directors Cut is out now on NSW/PS4/XB1/Windows