Shantae’s trademark ponytail is back and ready to make its Nintendo Switch debut. Return to Sequin Land and take the role of Shantae, a Half-Genie Hero and the protector of this magical land. This installment in the series takes place shortly after Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse. Everything is going well for our hero, no one has caused trouble in a while and Shantae is enjoying a little vacation. But we all know this won’t last long. After an argument with the Mayor of Scuttle Town, Shantae is demoted from her role as the Protector and replaced with a mysterious new Half-Genie Hero. When things start to get weird and everyone loses their memories, Shantae has to step in to investigate. Since this is a direct port of the Wii U game there aren’t many differences to discuss between the two. But, if you held off on buying it or you don’t own a Wii U it’s definitely a game you’re going to want to checkout.

Two things that do stand out with the Nintendo Switch version of Half-Genie Hero is portability and the different ways you can play using the Joy-Con controllers. You’ll notice the HD rumble effect when playing with them as well. The game looks great and plays well in portable mode! Shantae’s world has been updated with vibrant HD graphics and smooth animations that make this game look, and feel amazing. Not to mention the catchy background tunes. Sometimes you’ll even catch Shantae dancing if you leave her idle long enough. I really enjoyed the fun little details that were added in this time around. Especially the animations Shantae does for each of her transformation abilities.

Speaking of abilities, Shantae is fully equipped with an arsenal of cool transformations. From a crab to a monkey, to an elephant, and many more, it can get pretty crazy. But it’s nice when you need to reach a high cliff or dive deep into an underwater area. Just pick the ability you want, do a little dance and viola! Of course these are not available in the beginning of the game, but if you beat a boss or find a treasure chest you almost always get a new ability. It’s a fun surprise not knowing what whacky transformation will turn up next.

Skuttle town is where Shantae lives and it’s where you’ll spend most of your time in the game, sort of like the home base. You can visit the store and buy items like potions, or you can purchase permanent attack and defense upgrades that will help out ALOT during your adventures. Getting money is easy, it’ll be inside pots lying around each level, or boxes. You can sometimes get some cash by defeating enemies as well. You can travel to new areas via bird. A very large bird… on loan from a friend. As you progress and learn new abilities you can access new areas and unlock a good amount of side quests to keep you busy. It’s also nice to have those little side missions when you don’t feel like playing much longer or getting into another level. When you do choose to leave Scuttle town and explore a new area all you have to do is choose where you want to go and the bird takes you there. It’s a nice alternative to exploring until you find somewhere new and it helps the player not get turned around or confused. Speaking of that, there is a nifty bathhouse in Scuttle town that will fill your health and give Shantae hints when she is lost or stuck in the game.

While exploring, Shantae can use her hair whip attack with the Y button and whatever ability you have equipped can be used with the B button. Each new environment Shantae explores is completely different from the last. For example, they’re equipped with their own backgrounds and unique enemies. I loved the layout choices and the bosses at the end of each level are all pretty awesome looking. The games difficulty level isn’t anything to write home about but there were a couple times when I found myself wondering what to do or struggling with a boss. Most enemies can be defeated with a couple hair whips and they don’t take off too much health when they do get a hit in. There is an alternative Hardcore mode that adds a little extra difficulty but I didn’t have much trouble with that either. The bad thing about the low difficulty is that the game itself isn’t very long either, so an experienced player might find themselves a little disappointed with the lack of story content. 

The dialogue throughout the game can get a bit lengthy, but it has a good balance between humor and drama. You’ll also notice that the game pokes fun at itself and other video games a lot so it’s kinda fun to read most of the time. One thing I did notice is that it assumes the player is already familiar with the world of Shantae. So there are no character introductions or explanations during certain parts of the story. Which could be a little confusing for people who have never played a game from this series before. But don’t let those few negatives deter you. This is an awesome platformer and the gameplay is what really counts. Shantae Half-Genie Hero is equipped with amazing level design, simple controls, beautiful graphics (worthy of a high end animated series) and characters that you will grow to love. Not to mention there is DLC coming soon! So hopefully that will add some more content and make the game a little more lengthy.

Overall Half-Genie Hero is probably my favorite installment in the series so far. While it’s not going to be a HARDCORE challenge for most, it is something that is worth experiencing and will probably end up being one of your favorite Switch platformers. WayForward did a great job creating a whole new world for Shantae and I love seeing the evolution of her character over the last few years. I had a lot of fun playing this game and I think it’d be a great addition to anyone’s Switch library. Shantae: Half-Genie Hero is available now on the Nintendo Switch eShop for just $19.99.