Shantae: Half-Genie Hero (PlayStation 4) Review

By Eric Ace 08.07.2017

Review for Shantae: Half-Genie Hero on PlayStation 4

WayForward knows how to make 2D platformer games. The company has had a long success of titles that usually get a fair amount of positive reviews, with one of its oddest being the widely appreciated Aliens: Infestation, based on the Aliens movie franchise. Very good sprite graphics have been a staple of the company. Its latest project is a new entry for Shantae, a long-running series of a genie girl who hops and hair-whips her way across various misadventures.

Let's just put this out right in front: Shantae: Half-Genie Hero, while excelling on some technical levels, is simply a game that misses the key roots of what makes a game fun. Looking only at screenshots (of which the big-breasted mermaid boss is likely always guaranteed), or perhaps listening to a soundtrack of the game, a potential player might be deluded into thinking this is fun. For being a platforming game, it fails on this fundamental requirement.

For fans of the series, everything feels a lot of the same, minus the way she handles. She is still at her same coastal town, saving the unwitting townspeople, and using her hair the whole time. Using a much overused stereotype, the entire town has some sort of mass amnesia, and so no one remembers Shantae. As a result, she gets booted out of the role of guardian, and essentially endless "Who are you?" comments form a type of simple narrative. A problem with this is the story is light-hearted, so there is zero reason to reuse series characters in the first place (with new mind-wipes) when there is never any depth to them. This is a little akin to having a random (and reoccurring) item shop owner randomly not remember who you are - it serves no purpose other than looking like lazy writing.

Regardless of all this, the real issue of platform games is if they are fun. This is where the game fails, sadly. It does not matter how beautiful the sprites look (which they do, as a matter of fact), nor how good the music is if the game fails to be fun. Consider the fact that the original Super Mario Bros. is no graphic or music masterpiece at all, but many gamers will still find the platforming interesting, whilst Super Metroid is pure joy to control.

Screenshot for Shantae: Half-Genie Hero on PlayStation 4

The root of the problem comes mainly due to the jumping mechanics and the shape-shifting gimmick. Put bluntly, Shantae feels heavy and slippery, and her jumps feel way off. Additionally, nearly every modern convention of platforming (double jumps, wall climbs, etc.) are utterly missing, short of some transformations. What you are left with is a character in a platformer that is woefully under-equipped to do any platforming. It is a bit like playing a real life fat guy trying to make his way through an anime world. Shantae can never jump high enough, never grab the walls, never stick her landings, always misses her targets…

This is in contrast to others of the series, where despite the simple story, the games were oddly fun. Pirate's Curse was a great example of joyfully dashing and gliding across the landscape. In Half-Genie Hero, there is a transformation system where she can turn into various creatures, all of which start woefully underpowered, such as a crab that can walk underwater, but literally do nothing else. In complete honesty, the first animal is the monkey. It can't attack (barring one really situational move), but runs fast, jumps high and can wall-cling. The whole game is infinitely more enjoyable simply playing as the non-attacking monkey through its entirety. The monkey is in all ways superior to Shantae.

Many of the levels are very, very tall, and commit the game sin of a fall taking the player all the way down. Given how badly she jumps to begin with, expect many trips back to the bottom. It is tough to get across the poorness of the platforming, other than fans of the genre will notice how "off" it feels. Given the rest of the game never rode on any sort of great story, it leaves little to recommend.

Screenshot for Shantae: Half-Genie Hero on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 5 out of 10


If it was not for the music and the superior graphics, Half-Genie Hero would be viewed even less favourably for the simple fact it is not fun. Much of the goofy charm of the series has long been extinguished, and the main character is grating at this point. The platforming, despite having previous in the series that was great, is shockingly bad. Pretty graphics cannot hide the fact that after one too many trips to the bottom of the endless towers they climb, this game is simply not good, especially when the company, and the genre as a whole, offers so many better options.






2D Platformer



C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  5/10

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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