Shantae and the Seven Sirens
Genre: Adventure, Platformer
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Age Rating: PEGI 7
Release Date: 04/06/2020
A code was provided for review purposes.
Shantae started its humble beginnings back in 2002 on the GameBoy Color, hooking players in with its witty dialogue and hip swaying half-genie heroine. Fast forward to 2020 and we’re here with the fifth entry in the series; Shantae and the Seven Sirens.
The Perfect Island Vacation
Shantae has been invited to a luxurious, all expenses paid trip of a lifetime to Paradise Island to take part in the very first Half-Genie Festival. Upon her arrival Shantae meets five other half-genie’s who are also partaking in the festivities; unfortunately, the good times are cut short as her new friends vanish in plain sight during a performance. Cue panicked Mayor, five missing half-genie’s and a lot of island lore to learn. Determined to track down her new friends, Shantae goes down to explore the Sunken City and get to the bottom of this mystery.
If you’re a fan of the series you’ll recognise some familiar faces in the form of Bolo, Sky and your pesky pirate nemesis Risky Boots! There’s quite a few gameplay elements that tie everything together; dance transformations, fusion powers, hidden collectables and as the name suggests…Sirens! But who are the Sirens? I’ll leave that up to you to find out. You’ll want to explore every corner of the map to make sure you uncover all of the hidden treasures. Every time you enter a new area that part of the map is discovered and this is essentially how you progress, as well as attaining new abilities for Shantae enabling you to visit previously closed off sections of the map.
It’s quite linear compared to others in the Metroidvania genre. It streamlines the experience so that newcomers don’t feel too overwhelmed by the explorative nature but still gives fans of that genre a good challenge. There are themed areas which are easily identified by different colours on the map, visiting each one brings new enemies, challenges and collectables. In order to rescue Shantae’s newly acquired half-genie friends, you’ll have to explore dungeons littered across the island. The dungeon maps are separately explored once you enter them; very much in the traditional style of Zelda, you’ll uncover a new ability at some point within the dungeons and that is utilised in the boss fights at the end.
Shake Those Hips
Shantae’s half-genie companions will gift you with new transform abilities while gaining a fusion stone will also enable them to grant you additional dance abilities. These range from a frog that lets you swim through deep waters, an octopus with incredible squirting prowess giving you additional jump power and a newt who can quick-dash and climb up walls. Her dancing skills will affect the environment by fusing her power with the various other half-genie’s. These range from creating an electrical current to power machinery to enabling flowers to bloom and refreshing your own health. With all of the abilities at your disposal, it gives the game a fresh feel and keeps you wanting to play and discover more of the island.
From the opening sequence right up until the final piece of artwork you unlock for finishing the game, WayForward has mastered it beautifully. You can imagine the cut scenes playing out in your favourite Saturday morning cartoons. It’s always been a strong selling point for me, as someone who appreciates this type of art style, playing handheld or on the TV poses no difference as far as I could tell. They’re both equally as inviting.
There’s a colourful cast of characters, meeting various other islanders through different towns amongst other places. You’re tasked with various fetch quests to progress, so it’s a good idea to remember who’s said what and where. There are save points littered around, with no autosave function these come in handy. The music and audio is incredibly retro-sounding; I absolutely loved it! In terms of difficulty, it’s certainly not the most challenging, I can’t say I struggled with any of the boss battles, but they never felt too easy.
There are a couple of things that I felt could be implemented to improve the experience. Given that this is a Metroidvania-style title in terms of exploration, it’s challenging to remember where you had come across a collectable you couldn’t reach yet. With no option to add custom markers on the map, it becomes a case of trawling through the entire map in the hope you might stumble across that one room you need which does become tedious.
Within all of the towns, there’s always a shop, and this is where you upgrade and buy additional combat/armour options. The currency is relatively easy to save up which meant purchasing all the additional items was relatively straight forward, I felt like the challenge was taken away in later parts because of how simple it was to dispose of enemies. Perhaps a higher cost for these items or fewer occasions where you come across gems would balance that out.
However, I had a lot of fun exploring Paradise Island and the Sunken City; WayForward have created another colourful universe in the Shantae series. A gorgeous art style, quirky characters, new abilities to master and an intriguing story that’ll keep you playing for hours. After you’ve finished the first playthrough, you unlock the New Game+ mode which gives you more magic but less defence as well as that you can unlock different pieces of artwork based on varying completion factors which just adds to the replayability. The addition of custom map points would have been welcome and a more balanced gem system but a great game nevertheless. Shantae you stay!
Rapid Reviews Rating
You can purchase Shantae and the Seven Sirens from the Nintendo eShop by following the link below:
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.