Shantae and the Pirate's Curse (PlayStation 4) Review

By Az Elias 03.05.2016

Review for Shantae and the Pirate

This one has been covered four times over by Cubed3 already, but Shantae and the Pirate's Curse now makes its jump to PlayStation 4, following its initial release on Nintendo platforms. With the long-awaited and much anticipated Half-Genie Hero still to arrive, Pirate's Curse is filling in that gap, trying to bring as many people along for the ride as possible before Shantae's next big adventure.

Chunky pixel graphics have seen a revival in the last few years, harking back to the sprite-based glory days of the 8- and 16-bit eras. Shantae and the Pirate's Curse follows its predecessors' examples, although it is clear that this was built primarily for the smaller screen size of the Nintendo 3DS first and foremost, since visuals are noticeably blurrier and further zoomed in, bringing up pixels that shouldn't be so apparent. Pitting the 3DS and PS4 versions side by side does show a far crisper and less pixelated look on the portable screen. Not necessarily a major issue, but some graphics filter options might have circumvented the natural blowing up of the image on the large screen.

Either way, this is still one beautiful little world, and the anime character portraits are sharp and feature multiple poses - some of which are only used a couple of times throughout the adventure - highlighting the dedication of the artists to bring personality to each quirky individual. Most NPCs are those that have appeared in previous games, and some of the dialogue might be lost on anyone that hasn't played Shantae's past adventures, as there is plenty of reference to previous encounters. Most characters unfortunately don't get much time in the limelight, but Risky Boots showing her good side and teaming up with Shantae makes for a welcome change from being the bad girl in earlier titles - it's just a shame she isn't playable (Half-Genie Hero will fix that).

Screenshot for Shantae and the Pirate's Curse on PlayStation 4

Sticking to the Metroidvania style it knows best, Pirate's Curse is more of a beginner-friendly and light-hearted take on the genre. It rarely causes problems in terms of difficulty, and progression is pretty linear in the sense that there are few times that newly acquired items are used to backtrack to visited locations to access new areas, except really only to pick up health upgrades or find special enemies that need defeating to unlock the best ending. A straightforward path is usually followed, with some platforming, dialogue, hunting for key items, and then gaining access to a dungeon generally being the order of play. A few instances can cause head-scratching moments, such as not knowing who to pass a certain item to in order to progress, so there can be some aimless wandering around, speaking to nearly every NPC in the hopes of gaining a clue, but these are few and far between.

Platforming and combat is made easy to perform thanks to responsive controls, and the new moves learned from items found throughout each dungeon add to the joy of discovery, even if they are mostly only put to use in the labyrinths they are found in. The invincibility frames do seem a bit too on the short side, since some frustrating moments can occur if forced onto the edge of a screen and caught up by an enemy or more, getting hit and unable to recover quickly enough to jump out of the pummelling. Like Samus and her gunarm, Shantae's hair is her primary monster killer. It is relied on perhaps too much over the course of the quest, with most enemies and bosses being susceptible to it, and not forcing much use of other abilities that are learnt. Credit must go to the designers for providing a visual aid that details that a pit is lethal through the use of toxic symbols - an effective way to help players prevent unnecessary deaths.

Screenshot for Shantae and the Pirate's Curse on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Pirate's Curse remains a consistently good game from start to finish. Narratively speaking, it is refreshing to see each game treated as a continuation from the last adventures, with NPCs referencing their past experiences with Shantae, developing as characters as a result. The dialogue humour may not wash with everyone, but its heart is in the right place. This is a fun, but relatively simple, Metroidvania - beginner-friendly, but a title that can easily satisfy a craving, especially if eager for a solid 2D platformer.






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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