Shantae: Risky's Revenge - Director's Cut (PlayStation 4) Review

By Drew Hurley 26.08.2015

Review for Shantae: Risky

Risky's Revenge is the second game in the Shantae series, originally released in 2010 on DS via the DSiWare platform. This Director's Cut of the game, previously reviewed on PC, brings the title to consoles for the first time. Much of the original game is intact, but it has been upgraded with HD character portraits and a new unlockable Magic Mode, along with some other little additions. It's a big leap from DSi to PlayStation 4, so how has the transition been? Cubed3 finds out.

The original Shantae game was released on the Game Boy Color in 2002, and it was missed by many due to the fact most had moved on to the Game Boy Advance and that the title was never released in Europe until its 3DS Virtual Console launch in 2013. It became an underground hit and a cult classic thanks to its fantastic fundamentals. This sequel suffered from similar issues. Released on DSiWare, Risky's Revenge again evaded many gamers' eyes, but the series continued to develop a loyal fan base. Shantae is undergoing something of a resurgence, with a new game being not only fully funded on Kickstarter, but reaching double its goal at the tail end of 2014 - and now some rereleases of the older titles are appearing, too.

Screenshot for Shantae: Risky's Revenge - Director's Cut on PlayStation 4

This second game in the series finds Shantae and her friends living the happy and quiet life. Shantae's nemesis, the pirate Risky Boots, hasn't been seen since her defeat at the end of the first game, and instead of battling and belly dancing, Shantae is relaxing. This calm is quickly brought to a close when, during a special relic hunter event to show off a new treasure, Risky Boots returns. The treasure turns out to be a rather normal-looking lamp, but it is more than it seems and enough to get Risky back in town. She tears up the event and steals the lamp, before announcing some terrible portents of the power the lamp holds, then escaping. Thus, it's up to Shantae to collect three magical seals that will unlock the power of the lamp, recover the lamp and defeat Risky once more.

The character of Shantae is a half-genie belly dancer with a number of special abilities, but her main weapon is fitting with the Castlevania-esque gameplay. Shantae technically has a whip… in that she attacks by whipping enemies with her ponytail. In the original game, Shantae could also use special belly dances along with magic to transform into a monkey, an elephant and a harpy. At the start of Risky's Revenge, Shantae has nothing but her signature hair whip. A belly dancer NPC explains the lack of transformations away with a quick bit of exposition: "Gee, Shantae, I bet you can't even transform anymore since you haven't been keeping up your belly dancing practice." The transformations can be unlocked again, although harpy is replaced with a mermaid this time. These transformations are scattered throughout the game to find and unlock, and allow Shantae to reach previously unavailable areas. The popular feature of revisiting locations with these new abilities to reach new places is put to use, and the rewards stored within them uncovered.

Screenshot for Shantae: Risky's Revenge - Director's Cut on PlayStation 4

On top of the transformations, there are three upgradeable spells to unlock: the ability to summon a cloud that rains down lightning, the ability to shoot fireballs, and a magic sphere that rotates around Shantae, damaging anything that comes in range of the destructive dervish. The hub town holds a shop where these spells can be purchased, along with special power-ups and more. There are two currencies to purchase items in the shop; the common currency is gems, and every enemy in the game has a chance of dropping these, which can be found in abundance throughout. These are used to purchase potions to restore health and mana, the first tier of spells and other such basic items. To purchase the higher tiers of spells and Shantae's special enhancements, like shampoo to increase the strength of her hair, Magic Jam is required. This is a rare collectable to find; there is only a limited amount and can be acquired from treasure chests that are well hidden, and require backtracking, timely jumps and unlockable abilities.

Risky's Revenge starts in the central hub of the world, with four branching pathways. It's fairly linear in that most of the game's progression consists of obtaining an item or ability to open a dungeon to get a new item or ability, and then defeat a boss for a Magic Seal, before moving onto the next path. The linearity isn't much of a negative, as the backtracking to find secrets using new powers more than makes up for it. What is a negative, however, is the length; there's only four to six hours or so, even with all of the secrets unlocked, and the game feels a little unfinished at points.

Screenshot for Shantae: Risky's Revenge - Director's Cut on PlayStation 4

The gameplay itself feels solid all around - Metroidvania done right. Each aspect is tailored to enhance and complement each other, all contributing to the final product. From the art style of the characters and enemies, to the environments and the music, they all combine to craft a pretty looking world. The art style is risqué at times, with every female character being designed in a certain way; however, it fits with the source material: that of an Arabian Nights-esque story and style. Despite the designs, the art is the only part of the game that is in any way risqué, as there are no tongue-in-cheek-style adult jokes or double entendres. The story, jokes and writing are all very much PG, and they capture the same sort of storytelling as Pixar, with some very smart humour at points.

The new Director's Cut features are nice, small additions, but other than the great HD portraits, it's nothing particularly special. There's a Magic Mode, which gives Shantae more magical power, but makes her weaker, along with a new costume, and a reimagined warp system, which is great for the backtracking. There are also different display options: original 4:3 with black bars, 4:3 with borders, or stretched. Sadly, every option looks disappointing. It's a real shame that this title didn't get the sort of ground up remastering that many titles receive as of late, especially when this comes from WayForward, the company responsible for the recent beautiful DuckTales Remastered. Some of the graphical limitations are offset thanks to the PS4's Remote Play ability with the PS Vita, but this doesn't allow for gaming far from the PS4, unfortunately. It really would have benefit from a cross-buy/cross-save promotion, which would have further justified the price tag.

Screenshot for Shantae: Risky's Revenge - Director's Cut on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

The Shantae series has been missed by numerous gamers - quite criminally, in fact - and Shantae: Risky's Revenge - Director's Cut is definitely worth a purchase for those new to the genre to experience what it has to offer. The entire series is superb and should be more recognised in the 2D platforming world, as it is easily on par with the best of them. It's a shame there isn't any cross-buy or cross-save on PS Vita, and a more significant graphical overhaul, which would have easily made it something special.


WayForward Technologies




2D Platformer



C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 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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