The Shantae series, arguably the most well-known franchise from developer WayForward, had a long hiatus after its initial debut on the Game Boy Color, but has made quite a comeback more recently with last year’s Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse and the Kickstarter success Shantae: Half-Genie Hero currently in development.
However, the series already made a return before either of those titles several years ago with Shantae: Risky’s Revenge, originally released for the DSi in 2010. Now, WayForward has brought an enhanced port to the PlayStation 4 in the form of Shantae: Risky’s Revenge – Director’s Cut, and while there’s not enough truly new content here for fans of the original version to double dip, the game is as solid as ever, and still offers numerous reasons for platforming fans to take a look.
The story begins with the titular Shantae, a half-genie girl with magical abilities, witnessing a mysterious lamp found by her uncle being stolen by her old nemesis, the greedy pirate Risky Boots. From there, the plot is generally pretty sparse, with Shantae journeying across her home of Sequin Land in search of magical seals that will help her stop the pirate’s schemes.
Gameplay consists of 2D platforming across several diverse environments, as well as utilizing Shantae’s trademark abilities in battle, including her default attack of whipping her ponytail forward as well as numerous unlockable transformations. These include a monkey that can climb walls, an elephant that can destroy various rocks and obstacles, and a mermaid that can swim freely underwater.
The game’s world is laid out in a way akin to series such as Metroid, with different side-scrolling locations connected to each other to form one big map, with numerous hidden secrets and goodies that can only be fully accessed later on with abilities and items that Shantae earns throughout her adventure.
While this approach does a good job of both encouraging and rewarding exploration and experimentation, it still also results in my biggest issue with the game, which is the problem of sometimes being stumped on where to go next, and revisiting numerous areas in vain before finding the next step in Shantae’s journey. Though that element of the game is still sometimes frustrating, WayForward made Director’s Cut a bit more tolerable, with an improved warp mechanic and a more concise map that can be referenced at any time.
Graphically, though the game’s pixel art certainly looks blocky blown up to 1080p, it still has a lot of charm and attention to detail, with fluid and lively character animations and sometimes stunning environments. One downside is that the game wasn’t reworked from its original 4:3 aspect ratio to properly fit widescreens, which is unfortunate. The soundtrack also provides a variety of catchy tunes, and the character portraits displayed during conversations have also been reworked to display in full HD.
Numerous areas of the game also boast unique features, including a gauntlet of enemies to beat within a time limit or a dungeon that changes layouts depending on which way you hit switches. The game isn’t incredibly long, clocking in at under ten hours for me and possibly less for veterans who know where to go, but what’s there is fun, and the PS4 version only costs $9.99, which isn’t bad when compared to many other indie games that go for double that price.
Other than the improved warp and map mechanics and an unlockable mode that enhances Shantae’s magical abilities, Shantae: Risky’s Revenge – Director’s Cut doesn’t boast any big new features that would justify fans who already played the original DSi version to pay twice for what’s close to the same game. Still, it’s probably the best version available, and Sony fans who aren’t into Nintendo handhelds will have some good fun with it if they decide to check it out.
This review is based on the PlayStation 4 version, which was provided to us.
While there's definitely not enough here to justify a second purchase for existing fans, Shantae: Risky's Revenge - Director's Cut contains more than enough positive factors to interest new ones.