It’s been awhile, but PureNintendo.com is back with a new video review. This time, we look at WayForward’s latest in the Shantae series. While the game has been out on the 3DS for two months, we decided to test the game’s merits on a bigger screen.
WayForward returns with it’s third title in it’s growing Shantae series. The retail price is $19.99 regardless of the platform. The price-point is a bit more than other indie titles, with the gameplay length roughly a similar size as its peers. This may sound like I am down on the game, but I’d rather have a shorter game, than one that needs to unnecessarily pad it’s length.
The game picks up right after the events of Risky’s Revenge, with the now magic-less Guardian Genie, Shantae, teaming up with her arch nemesis, Risky Boots, to contain the dark magic and prevent the Pirate Master’s return .
Humorous dialogue has always been a large part of WayForward’s style, and Pirate’s Curse keeps their track record sparkling. Dialogue exchanges between characters are fun and vibrant, and I always looked forward to the next time I got to speak. Even characters who only appear once will have clever witticisms. There is a bit of fan-service at times, but WayForward does not rely on these moments to hold their game up, and approaches them with their usual sense of humor.. WayForward even stops to take a jab at itself, in the form of Squid Barron’s return as a dungeon boss.
Each of the islands Shantae travels to have their own distinct feel, so the platforming rarely repeats itself, save for the initial charge into the level. Backtracking is a key element in WayForward’s latest title. You’ll often find yourself returning to the previous islands, but rarely will it be for just one item, so you won’t feel like Pirate’s Curse is unnecessarily padding gameplay. Discovering where a key item is can take a bit of brain power, but there is nothing truly mind-boggling at play. While the basic layouts of the maps are nice, this same decision plays against WayForward, as secret areas only expand for one or two rooms, and doesn’t feel very exciting when uncovered. There is one exception to this criticism, but I won’t spoil it here.
The dungeon layouts are a Zelda-esque style of finding keys, a map, and new weapon. Each of the pirate weapons you acquire are used almost continuously throughout the game. Some puzzles will even have you chain these items together, but none are so complicated that you will need more than a handful of tries to conquer. The gun, sword, and cannon can be upgraded at the shop, but they are never as powerful nor as convenient as Shantae’s hair, so it’s best to invest elsewhere.
Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse peppers in different gameplay segments to change up the platforming formula. These ideas can be a hit (carrying the ailing Rottytops through a gauntlet of enemies and traps) or miss (a stealth section through a sand palace), but they all will keep you from losing interest in WayForward’s newest title.
For most of the game, difficulty progresses steadily. As you move through each island, enemies will hit you for more and more damage, so the health refills and heart squids become essential down the line. Luckily the game throws a slew of healing, barrier, and attack items to help you maneuver through difficult sections. However, the difficulty spikes during your run, with Mud Bog Island being the worst offender, throwing enemy after enemy at you. Even after fully powered up, I always dreaded going back to that cursed land-mass. The difficulty spikes again (and quite literally) at the final dungeon, which will challenge your platforming skills like none of the other areas thus far.
As is the par for WayForward’s Shantae series, players can earn four different ending wallpapers depending on how the game is beaten; any percent completion, 100 percent completion, a speed run under two hours, and a run under two hours with 100% completion. Beating the game will net you a new game plus mode, in which you start out with all of the pirate equipment, providing a mode for you to aim for a faster time, or to just have fun powering through the game.
WayForward gave me just what I was looking forward in a Shantae title, a compact, competent platformer filled with humorous dialogue, fun characters, and a good challenge.
I give Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse for the Wii U, an 8.5 out of 10.
PN Video Review: Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse