Shantae: Risky’s Revenge – Director’s Cut is a 2D adventure platformer by WayForward and is the sequel to the original Shantae. Risky’s Revenge was originally a DSiWare game but it was re-released later on multiple systems with some enhancements as Risky’s Revenge – Director’s Cut. The Steam version is the one I’ll specifically be talking about. I’ll also assume you have some passing familiarity with the first game, but this may be your first entry into the series due to that one’s obscurity so I’ll try to be sensitive to that. Enough preamble, I think we are Ret-2-Go.
The game begins with Uncle Mimic showing off some relics at the local Relic Hunter Expo in Scuttle Town. He accidentally unveils the wrong item, an oil lamp, and is about to hurriedly move on to another relic instead when sudden an anchor crashes through the ceiling carrying none other than series antogist Risky Boots. The self-proclaimed queen of the seven seas steal the lamp and makes her exit before she can be stopped. Shantae presses Uncle Mimic about the relic and he confesses that it is a magical artifact that could be powerful should its full power be restored. In order to restore it’s power, one must first collect the three magic seals that keep its power locked away. These were hidden across the land, and in order to keep them out of the hands of Risky, Shantae must find and obtain them first. Thus, your journey begins.
The gameplay is your typical platformer stuff. You jump around and attack things with your hair like a whip. You can purchase some spells in the store that you can use wherever you’d like. The storm puff sends out a cloud that will shock the surrounding areas for a few moments and can even be hit around with your hair. The pike ball surrounds you with a rotating ball that can harm enemies and obstacles. And the fire ball is a projectile that’s… well… pretty self-explanatory. You can also buy upgrades to your abilities if you have enough gems and magical jams. The gems are dropped by most enemies and pots, but the magical jams are limited items that you must find across the world. You may also find heart holders that permanently increase your maximum health. As you journey through forests, deserts, beaches, and caves you’ll come across the game’s main dungeons. Each one holds one of the magic seals. The first and third have you finding keys to progress, ultimately ending with a battle against a powerful baron, but the second one is a trial of multiple battles in a row within a limited amount of time to win the seal as a prize. There are also a few quests to complete in order to finish this main goal, but they are mandatory so I wouldn’t call them sidequests. Along the way you’ll also learn magical dances that allow you to transform into different creatures. There’s a monkey that can climb up walls, an elephant that can break stone obstacles, and a mermaid that can swim. Each one will allow you to progress the story, explore more areas, and find more secrets. In the end, you’ll have to have a final confrontation with Risky Boots, but just what does she have up her sleeve when you’ve got all the seals? It must be something good because she doesn’t even HAVE sleeves and we STILL don’t know!
This game is definitely a step up from the previous title, even if it’s not as impressive relative to the hardware its on. The colorful visuals somehow make it more charming that its still a pixelated style. The music is bumpin’ too. Shantae herself is still a babe, so I’ve got no complaints there. She even gets a few nice portraits for the dialogue situations. The gameplay is pretty smooth and responsive and I do generally like the structure. It’s a metroidvania kind of exploration with almost Zelda-esque dungeons. I also liked some of the neat things it tried to do to spice the game up a bit in different sections. The battle tower of the second dungeon was interesting. The puzzle focus of the third dungeon was a fun experiment. And the shoot ’em up section with the mermaid transformation was cute. It definitely tries not to get stale, and succeeds. Some of the humor hits pretty good when you’re not expecting it, but I suppose that’s more a matter of taste. Just… do yourself the favor and say no to the lady who thinks you’ve found her dog. It’s a nice package that even comes with a bonus magic mode where you take more damage BUT you have more magic to use. It’s a nice way to make the game a bit harder but also just a bit different at the same time. Plus… you get to wear an even skimpier outfit, which is the real magic here. Am I right? Ahem. Moving on.
The game isn’t all dandy, though. The map system is annoying. It’s not very detailed and tries to display the ENTIRE game’s map at once. So you get a vague idea where you are, but not enough to make it too terribly useful. There are parts on the overworld map where you jump between different planes, which is neat to look at and can save space when making the map, but it almost never is utilized as an interesting mechanic. It also doesn’t tell you a damn thing about where you are in the underground areas and there are no dungeon maps to speak of. So be prepared to tread the same ground for a while until you get used to those areas. There’s an import shop in the town that seems useless and I have no idea what that is for. Maybe it was for planned content that never made it, previous content that was cut, or maybe some DSi feature that didn’t translate to the other versions. It’s just a mystery. The game also feels a bit on the short side. What’s there is fun, but after playing the later installments and coming back I feel like I just got invested and it was already over, which may be more of a testament to how fun it is and how much potential it has, but feels more like a criticism. Perhaps that was another limitation of the original platform. Oh well.
All things considered, Shantae: Risky’s Revenge – Director’s Cut is still a solid 2D platforming adventure with a nice bit of humor and some delightful eye candy draped on top of a mix of action, exploration, and puzzles. It’s easy to recommend it for the 10-15 bucks you’ll likely find it going for depending on the platform of choice, and a steal on sale. If you want to see if you like the series without it being too hard or too expensive, I think this one is a great place to start. It’s where I started and it delighted me enough to get me hooked. Just remember, that hottie boom-ba-lottie is MY girl. You hear me? You can look, but don’t touch.