Shantae and the Seven Sirens (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Az Elias 22.06.2020 5

Review for Shantae and the Seven Sirens on Nintendo Switch

Once a series that was confined to just one game for almost a decade, the past ten years have produced four Shantae adventures that have been fairly consistent on many levels - for better or worse. The purple-haired half-genie and her cutesy and chirpy demeanour have chalked up quite the following, and the fact her games receive ports to just about every platform going ensures her reach gets out to as many people as possible. After Apple Arcade saw the newest entry release there last year, Shantae and the Seven Sirens now arrives on Nintendo Switch.

Invited to participate in a festival on a tropical island featuring half-genies just like Shantae herself, the hair-whipping heroine quickly ends up thrown into another escapade after the other ladies of the show get kidnapped due to the mysterious Sirens that lurk below the depths of the land. The summer vacation is ruined - or at least, put on hold - with Shantae exploring the isle, rescuing the girls, and unlocking new powers that will help her save the day.

Screenshot for Shantae and the Seven Sirens on Nintendo Switch

It is just like any other Shantae game. This is both a good and bad thing, depending on the individual. A newcomer is sure to enjoy this pretty simple and short Metroidvania romp, but anybody that has played a past entry is going to be underwhelmed by what is a generic platformer in a series that is suffering from fatigue. The same old characters, the same old jokes, uninspired locations, basic power-ups - it's clear WayForward is running out of ideas with Shantae.

One only needs to look to a recent Metroidvania that absolutely nails it in the form of Hollow Knight, where every single screen is aesthetically different from the last, and a real sense of progression is felt through abilities that aren't just handed to you on a plate. Titles like Iconoclasts and Axiom Verge are moving the genre forward. Even Super Metroid, back in the days of the Super Nintendo, has these aspects in the bucketload.

Screenshot for Shantae and the Seven Sirens on Nintendo Switch

Shantae and the Seven Sirens has great attention to detail when it comes to the excellent HD sprites (which this dev team is rightly known for) and smooth gameplay that generally isn't the cause of any ill deaths that aren't the fault of the player, but it is lacking imagination where it counts. It isn't even that the tropical theme seriously limits things, because Shantae gets to travel to all manner of places under the grounds of the island, including a deep-sea research lab and mines. It's all vibrant and colourful enough, but short of any wonder.

With power-ups that can be accumulated extremely early on by buying them in shops, Shantae can become overpowered and blast through enemies and bosses without much thought. Admittedly, WayForward does implement the option to use the lower-level power-ups over the stronger ones if you want to try to limit how easy things get, but it is that lack of earned and satisfying progression that is normally achieved through hard work and overcoming tough battles and platforming segments that makes Seven Sirens feel like such a bog-standard and simple game.

Screenshot for Shantae and the Seven Sirens on Nintendo Switch

Story progress can come to a brief halt at times, too, where it isn't entirely clear on what to do next, or just where to go, even with talking to the many NPCs dotted throughout the world - but in general, you won't find yourself getting too stuck... Just tired. Some backtracking and searching around is commonplace in any Metroidvania, and it's usually not a painstaking part of Seven Sirens due to how fluidly and quickly Shantae herself moves around, but the fetch quest nature of things is rather mundane. Still, it's quite pleasant to zip through the various transformations to get through each screen, particularly as the newt, which dashes forward and climbs walls. Sadly, the transitions to new areas hit you with load times that drag the pacing down and contrasts with the speedy nature of Shantae's play style.

The introduction of a barebones role-playing-like feature adds a small degree of customisation that lets players come up with unique set-ups for Shantae to offer slight advantages in her quest. Cards dropped by enemies can be equipped to three slots, granting anything from faster crawl speed, to a regenerating magic meter, to reduced prices in shops. It's a welcome small feature that might have been made a tad more interesting if some perks came with disadvantages, in turn forcing players to make tougher decisions when it comes to which handicaps to take on board.

Screenshot for Shantae and the Seven Sirens on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

5/10
Rated 5 out of 10

Average

None of this is to say Shantae and the Seven Sirens is a bad game. In fact, it's a decent game for the younger audience, newcomers, and anyone that isn't expecting Shantae to evolve. Strictly from the perspective of someone that has played many games in the series and is eager for something different, though, this disappoints on many fronts. Uninspiring and rarely ever surprising, with little to make the player feel like they've earned anything, what is left is a generic Shantae game that is like any other before it, crying out for change and originality.

Developer

WayForward Technologies

Publisher

WayForward

Genre

2D Platformer

Players

1

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 Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

Yeah, I feel a bit flat about this one so far... the team seems to have just put more effort into the bobbing animations and big boobs rather than being creative. I'm trying to remember what the last one I really enjoyed was... maybe the Kickstarter one, 1/2 Genie Hero.

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

This series stopped evolving a long time ago. I actually like the original games more than this.

Bouncing tatas can only get you so far...

( Edited 22.06.2020 19:25 by Ofisil )

Can't a fella drink in peace?
                                -Farnham

Glad I'm not the only one!

Half-Genie Hero was the one prior to this, but that was where I was definitely disappointed in how familiar the series was staying. For a Kickstarter game, I was expecting a lot more originality. A chance for them to try new things.

Pirate's Curse was probably the last one I enjoyed more thoroughly, but I was still fairly new to the series at that point. Two games on from that, and you expect more change than this.

I'm not even asking for Shantae to become some sort of difficult and dark game, either. It should keep its core intact - that of a jolly, colourful, accessible Metroidvania - but it needs to drop the fetch quests, the way you can become so overpowered so quickly, mix up how we can tackle each boss without just mashing attack, stop using the same characters and jokes, put some effort into the designs of the areas/dungeons... I so badly want to like Shantae, but the series is waning fast, and it's sad to see.

The dev Mr. Bozon answered recently about whether they will take Shantae into 3D, to which he said probably not this gen (bit odd to put a generation on things), but I do hope they don't go there. I can't see an indie dev making Shantae work in 3D. Few smaller studios have that kind of success, and I can't imagine it turning out great. Some series are better fit for 2D, and I feel that's where Shantae belongs. They just need to get her being back to good again there.

Wow...that bad huh?  The first one I played on the 3ds was very good, then the 2nd one I reviewed was very...blah like this one was.  Disappointing really, the art is great and its sad when sprite games dont do that good.


One other thing, has the artist or art studio been the same? I imagine not as there is a new style in each game.
 

( Edited 24.06.2020 15:53 by Dragon0085 )

Flicking through the credits of the past three games, there are definitely some changes in the level and character artists, but some have remained on board between games, too. So bit of a mix.

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