Shantae (Game Boy Color) Review

By Athanasios 16.11.2020

Review for Shantae on Game Boy Color

WayForward's first foray in the video game industry begun in the early '90s, but for about one decade, most of the developer's creations were unremarkable. It was 2002 when it finally crafted something of value, whose relatively small, but otherwise solid success, led to one of the most beloved retro-style platformer series. The title that started it all was Shantae; a title that, while not perfect, should not be missing from any Game Boy Color collection. After all, how can anyone say no to a sexy, dancing genie, even it is a half one?

It will be hard for most people to accept that Shantae was actually made by a western studio, as it oozes that particular, '80s Nintendo charm that one can expect from a developer like Capcom - which is probably why the latter was actually the publisher. Taking place in cartoony, Arabian Nights setting, the pixely world that you'll witness here is actually one of the best looking for the Game Boy Color, if not the absolute best. The vibrant palette used here has painted a variety of locales like deserts and caves, or forests and waterfalls that, while not exactly original, look great. The think that takes the biscuit, though, is the heroine of this tale herself.

Screenshot for Shantae on Game Boy Color

Shantae simply outshines everything, by having an extremely fluid animation whether she runs, jumps, attacks with her head like a metalhead, or wiggles her curvy behinds. As an added bonus, WayForward has applied a couple of neat effects, which are a rarity in the system, like a day/night cycle, beams of light that change Shantae's colour when she goes through them, and more. As a cherry on top, this features a pretty good OST, filled with upbeat, very danceable, middle-eastern-flavoured tunes.

Gameplay-wise, Shantae is a title where Super Mario meets with Zelda, and with a little bit of Metroid thrown in. The end result? Castlevania II: Simon's Quest! No, no, no, no, no. Don't run away, this is actually a fun adventure. This is similar to Konami's weird experiment, in how the protagonist has to talk with the townsfolk in order to gather clues about where to go next, as the game world is semi-open-ended, and Shantae is free to explore around a bit. The word 'semi' was used, because in reality this is somewhat linear, as she must find certain items and power-ups in order to enter specific areas - like in a metroidvania, but without the complexity and depth usually found in the genre.

Screenshot for Shantae on Game Boy Color

…And that's one of Shantae's main issues. This is an extremely solid, and well-crafted action-adventure-esque platformer - one that has excellent controls, and is generally very enjoyable, but it's also hard to deny how simplistic it can occasionally feel, especially when compared to other, similar games. As an example, after finding the necessary trinkets, Shantae can change into various animals, like a monkey to climb walls, an elephant to smash obstacles, and more. Great as these forms are (with the dance performed to transform into them being super-cute), they are disappointingly underutilized, as they don't require any sort of thinking on behalf of the player, since it's usually a matter of having them or not, rather than being forced to be creative.

Screenshot for Shantae on Game Boy Color

Fortunately, and as mentioned before, this is fun, even though it never becomes what it feels it could become if the developer had taken more risks with it. To be more specific, the dungeons have that unique Zelda magic that makes you explore every inch of the place, and leave no stone unturned… but these aren't exactly the most challenging of mazes. Shantae is basically amateur-grade stuff, and as a result it's great for genre newcomers, but not as much for those who are more experienced with platformers.

Having said that, if you don't mind something more casual-friendly, do give it a try. While generally an easy affair, it won't ever hold your hand, and will never be hesitant to kill you if you don't pay attention to what's on screen. WayForward has also added lots of character to this charming microcosm of cute and sexy genies, zombies, and pirates, with lots of tiny "cut-scenes," with simple, yet enjoyable dialogue sequences. In conclusion: not a flawless gem, but not bad either. It won't rock your world, but if you consider yourself a retro gamer, be sure to check it out.

Screenshot for Shantae on Game Boy Color

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

While a bit on the short, easy, and simple side, Shantae remains a fun, and surprisingly charming and good-looking retro-style platformer. Be sure to buy it, whether in possession of one of the older consoles it has appeared on, or, even better, on the Switch, when it eventually gets re-released by WayForward.






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 Out now   Australian release date Out now   


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