Shantae: Half-Genie Hero Preview

June 14th, 2015 -

Just a few days ago, WayForward released an early build of their newest game in their longest running series: Shantae. This build will be shown at E3, but not playable. If you backed the game at the $45 level or above, you should have a key for this demo by now. So let’s talk a bit about what the demo offers.

Three levels to choose from in this demo.

The title screen offers three levels to choose from, each with the story elements stripped from them so no part of the plot is spoiled. Each level holds a sense of familiarity, both with previous settings from other Shantae games as well as the games that inspired these adventures. The game features beautifully hand-crafted backdrops and character animations, unsurprisingly similar to the concept art (while most companies don’t come close, WayForward’s pedigree meant I expected nothing less). The transition to HD is glorious, and as much as I love the original style of the games, I can’t help but love everything about this new style.

The first level places you in a jungle area, fighting against crabs and mermaids. After reaching a dead-end, the game quickly notes that you can transform. Being a jungle, it’s only natural that you’d become a monkey to scale the walls and make large jumps. The game offers what you’d expect from it by now, with solid platforming, fun enemies, and simple/tight controls. At the end of this level, you see some girls tied up and being dragged off-screen – the plot point of Shantae rescuing others continues on in this iteration (probably)!

You'll recognize the staple enemies from the series.

The second level is a desert filled landscape with harsh winds and deep oases. Your transformation here is a crab, which makes use of its shell for defense while also allowing you to platform underwater. This is necessary to get past obstacles such as insurrmountable walls and unforgiving wind gusts. When in the water, you’ll fall with style, and you can speed it up by pressing down (perhaps necessary to avoid the fish that want to eat you). From the ground, it’ll be like low gravity platforming with water jumps. This level ends fairly abruptly, much like the next one.

The last level you’re given access to is reminiscent of the mine cart levels from Donkey Kong Country. You’ll be avoiding barrels from both in front and behind you, as well as dodging the monsters and the objects they throw from above. You won’t be attacking, but merely moving left or right on the automatically scrolling screen, as well as jumping. It’s short but sweet, and the only level I ended up dying on (partially because I was trying to get cool screenshots, which always failed).

The third level was a "minecart" level, with barrels to avoid both in front and behind Shantae, as well as objects being thrown from above.

The game is still deep in development with no planned release date yet. The final game will have multiple modes and characters to play as, such as Rottytops, Sky, Bolo, and Risky Boots. If you’re a veteran of the series, you’ll no doubt recognize all those names. If you’re not familiar with them, I suggest you play the previous games in the series – if you’re a fan of platformers/metroidvania games, you will not be disappointed.

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