Michael Leparc On January 19, 2015 at 2:30 pm

Shantae and the Pirates Curse_gameplay_1The Shantae series has been a pleasant surprise from the start, a Metroidvania style platformer which features a quite whimsical and visually appealing universe along with some very original powers as well level as level and boss designs. While not one of the major properties out there, it has enough of a cult following that Wayforward has been able to parlay its support into a massively successful kickstarter for the upcoming Half-Genie Hero, which will take greater advantage of what the current consoles have to offer. Until that comes out though, there’s Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse, a sequel to the last DS title does more than whet our appetite.

This title picks up the plot where Shantae: Risky’s Revenge left off, with the half genie now devoid of her magic powers as a result of the final battle of the last game. That leaves her with only her hair whip attack to fight against enemies. The Ammo Baron quickly exploits this (and the Mayor’s stupidity) to take over Scuttle Town. Then, to make things worse, Shantae’s nemesis, Risky Boots, arrives to inform her that a curse is spreading throughout Sequin Land as a result of her old boss The Pirate Master’s impending resurrection. It’s up to Shantae to bottle up all the dark magic and defeat the monsters on each island to save the world from imminent down.

Along the way she’ll pick up Risky’s missing items and borrow them to supplement her abilities, thus making up for the loss of her magic dancing and transforming powers. Risky’s hat opens like a parachute for gliding, while her pistol allows you to shoot enemies and triggers from a distance, and her scimitar allows you to drill down below you kind of like Scrooge McDuck’s cane in DuckTales. There’s also her boots which allow you to dash through obstacles and her cannon which adds a double and triple jump to your capabilities. They are unlocked as you tackle the dungeons on each island you come across, and new islands are revealed when you defeat a boss. In order to collect all the heart squids and dark magic from the cacklebats as well as progress the story, however, you will have to backtrack to previous locations and use your new abilities to get to places that were impossible to reach earlier. You can also upgrade your attacks and get a few other moves from the shop in Scuttle Town, but the extra moves (a backwards evasion, flip out of a knockdown, and a close range kick) aren’t really necessary and aren’t even all that useful altogether.

Overall the game does a great job of continuing the Shantae tradition of solid level design with just enough hinting in the backtracking to make sure the player is never totally lost. Simply progressing through the game is not terribly difficult, but many of the bosses are a worthy challenge (this can be mitigated a bit through using items like the bubble shield and pike balls), and getting all the collectibles will test your perception as well as your platforming abilities. There is a steep curve in difficulty however when it comes to the last stage in which you approach the final boss, something I appreciated but many novices might not, just a warning. I also enjoyed the story and dialogue along the way, which features plenty of humor and even some fan service for those of us who enjoy that sort of thing.

While voice acting is limited to Shantae calling out other character’s names, it is a nice touch. The music in Pirate’s Curse is quite catchy in most places (particular Tan Line Island) and I enjoyed the new takes on the Scuttle Town theme as the story progressed. Other portions, such as the dungeon music can get a little irritating as short segments loop over and over. As its built on the same engine as the previous DS game, the graphics on the Wii U version have mostly a retro appeal, but the artwork and animation are top notch, with the cardboard cutouts during dialogue taking advantage of in the increased resolution at least.

Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse provides a lot of platforming value. My 100% completion of the game took a little over 10 hours, and beating the game unlocks Pirate Mode, which gives you all the abilities at the start to facilitate speed run replays. If you’re a fan of the series or of Metroidvania style games, this one is a must buy, though keep in mind there’s a 3DS version as well if you want to take it on the go!


Great levels, fun bosses, and good mix of new abilities that are a joy to use and combine.


Not cutting edge but excellently animated and colorful.


Parts of this soundtrack are definitely going in my playlist.


The Pirate’s Curse belongs in every Shantae fan’s collection, and bodes well for the future.

Comments are closed.