Shantae: Half-Genie Hero (Hands-On) (PC) Preview

By Nikola Suprak 12.07.2015

Review for Shantae: Half-Genie Hero (Hands-On) on PC

When WayForward announced Shantae: Half-Genie Hero on Kickstarter back in 2013, it seemed like one of the most certain return on investments to ever make an appearance for crowd sourced funding. Not only does WayForward have an excellent track record with the Shantae series, in particular, but the gaming world had been too long without the loveable, hair-whipping genie protagonist. The developers recently released an early access beta for certain backers, and Cubed3 was lucky enough to go hands-on with the title. While this was only but a nibble on the feast that is yet to come, there is a tremendous amount of promise here, and WayForward certainly seems on the right track to another memorable Shantae title.

On the one hand, it is a bit difficult to fully assess Shantae: Half-Genie Hero because the beta doesn't really showcase some of the series' most notable features. Great, diverse boss battles, a wonderful Metroidvania sort of exploration, and charming dialogue and characters are all things that will no doubt be in the final build, but are painfully absent in this three-level preview. These are the sorts of things that make Shantae "Shantae," and without them there is just this nagging sense that the game is missing something.

On the other hand, however, this demo does a wonderful job showcasing exactly why everyone should be excited for the upcoming title. The key features are still hidden behind a curtain, sure, but they are certain to come along eventually, and across the three levels there are all the tight gameplay mechanics and clever level designs necessary to put any lingering concerns to rest. The preview shows off two levels - a desert wasteland and a luscious tropical forest - in addition to an action sequence that has Shantae jumping and dodging enemies on a moving conveyer belt. The quick, fun action platforming the series is known for is here in full force, in addition to a handful of puzzle-like sequences that necessitate the proper use of cover to overcome some particularly strong wind gusts. It is a nice, quick showcase of what to expect in the final version, and it will leave the player wanting more, and soon.

Screenshot for Shantae: Half-Genie Hero (Hands-On) on PC

After a brief hiatus in Shantae and the Pirate's Curse, the animal transformations are back, with two different ones shown off in all their glory in the beta. The adorable Shantae monkey returns, giving her the ability to climb walls and perform wall jumps to reach otherwise inaccessible areas of the levels. A crab transformation instead gives her the ability to perform some limited platforming skills underwater, in addition to a nice defensive shell to hide under if anything sharp and scary is coming her way. The preview nicely demonstrates exactly how these abilities will be used, adding another layer to the gameplay and infusing the game with some much needed diversity to the platforming challenges. Switching back and forth between animal forms and Shantae is as simple as a touch of a button, and while the challenges the demo put forward are somewhat simplistic, it will be exciting to see how the developers build upon these mechanics and present more interesting challenges.

The game also looks beautiful, and this will be far and away the best looking Shantae game to date. The sprites from the previous games were excellent, no doubt, but the fantastic hand-drawn characters and backgrounds bring all the levels to life. There is a vibrant, colourful world in Shantae: Half-Genie Hero, and between the bright visuals and responsive gameplay mechanics, the world here is a treat to explore. It certainly isn't a finished product yet, but there is more than enough here to be excited about where the project might wind up.

Screenshot for Shantae: Half-Genie Hero (Hands-On) on PC

Final Thoughts

It is hard to fully assess the title as some of the most exciting features have yet to be revealed. Series mainstays like Rottytops, Bolo, and even frenemy Risky Boots are set to make playable appearances with their own modes, and there are certainly more transformations on the way. It is already apparent, though, that Shantae: Half-Genie Hero will be quintessential Shantae with all the wonderful quirks the WayForward series is known for. Featuring a beautiful new art style and some clever twists on the classic formula, this is a title that should absolutely be on fans' radars. Now to anxiously wait for an official release date, which can't come soon enough.

Developer

WayForward Technologies

Publisher

WayForward

Genre

2D Platformer

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10 (1 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

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