Shantae And The Seven Sirens

Saying Shantae and the Seven Sirens is very flawed would be a mistake, because no component of the game comes off as lackluster or problematic. What it truly lacks is a bright spark of creativity to elevate it further. However, in spite of that absence, the quest it contains remains enjoyable throughout the way, and the whole package is recommended to anyone looking for a lighter – but still very big in scope – take on the Metroidvania genre, one that sprinkles a maze-like world with drops of straightforward action-platforming and adventure. Shantae and the Seven Sirens is a very welcome return to form by one of the independent scene’s most beloved franchises. And even if it has some catching up to do to match the best efforts of its genre, there is no denying that the change it brings to the table is as pleasant to experience as the knowledge that the half-genie is back to doing what she knows best; that is, unlocking the secrets of a big labyrinth while talking to characters, executing trading sequences, going through dungeons, and bringing down foes with her signature hair whip.

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A Boy And His Blob

Although it certainly has issues, it is impossible not to recommend A Boy and His Blob to absolutely everyone. More importantly than being artistically adorable, it is a game that carries a ton of heart, for the lovely innocent friendship that lies at its core is the fuel not only for much of its visual splendor but also for its clever gameplay mechanics. And these, in particular, are so flexible and unique they safely carry the game through more than eighty levels of varying degrees of difficulty. A Boy and His Blob does not just rescue a long-forgotten and irregular property born during the NES days from total obscurity; it fleshes out its central concept, dresses it up in charming hand-drawn animation, and puts it in the hands of a generation of younger gamers that may – in a few years – remember this child and this likable alien as one of the very first contacts they had with the medium. As for more experienced gamers, even if the adventure may at points be too easy, A Boy and His Blob is a chance to play a well-designed sidescrolling puzzle platformer. One that, overshadowed by other bigger releases of the genre that happened during its renaissance in the arms of the Nintendo Wii, is sometimes forgotten.

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Shantae: Half-Genie Hero

If it were a game from a brand new franchise Shantae: Half-Genie Hero could be easily called great. It is not overly lengthy, clocking in at about eight hours if players go for full completion, but it has a satisfying duration nevertheless; it is beautiful to look at; it packs a solid soundtrack; and it has charm, humor, and level-design prowess. However, as the fourth installment in a series that has always excelled in the way it borrowed elements from Metroid and Zelda, and stuck them in the shoes of a platformer, it ends up falling short of that status. Newcomers are far more likely to thoroughly enjoy it than longtime fans, for while the former will see it as a truly delightful action-platformer with some notable quirks, the latter are bound to view it as not just a missed opportunity, but a step back, one that apparently fails to materialize half of what made its prequels so beloved in the first place.

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Shantae And The Pirate’s Curse

Aside from a few points on which the game’s generally pleasant difficulty takes a turn towards the frustrating; rare miscues in checkpoint placement; and punctual occasions when the backtracking is a bit tedious, Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse flirts with sidescrolling perfection. From its overwhelmingly charming presentation to its easy-to-love characters and exquisite design, it is a victory for small developers, long-forgotten properties, and digital distribution. Without the latter, many might have never discovered the wonders of the Shantae franchise and the world might have never known the wonders of The Pirate’s Curse; what a terrible loss it would have been for us gamers.

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Shantae: Risky’s Revenge

Risky’s Revenge crushes all of its tiny flaws to deliver one of the most engaging and carefully crafted experiences on both the Nintendo DS and 3DS. It might not have the enormous size of most titles that rank among those systems’ finest, but it matches them with the care it displays – be it on its stunning layered visuals or fantastic level design – and the relentless torrent of untamed joy it produces. More than giving the Shantae franchise new life after an absence that often threatened to leave the series in limbo for good, it proved that – with improvements, optimizations, and tweaks – the concept that was built back in the early 2000s was good enough to compete against any of the current big guns.

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Shantae

The culmination of that exploration, and the peak of Shantae as a game, comes in the four dungeons that need to be found and cleared. Inside those, players must navigate a series of rooms that strike a flawless balance between tight platforming; a good deal of battling, including nice – albeit a bit too easy – bosses and mini-bosses; and puzzle-solving. In the best Zelda fashion, those mazes have plenty of locked doors and corridors that cannot be accessed until Shantae tracks down the dungeon’s core technique, transforming the act of walking around the place itself into an exercise in reasoning.

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Half-Genie, Full-Genius

The game blends all of those influences to produce something relatively unique: a platformer whose levels are tied up in a continuous world and that must, sometimes, be traversed back and forth as players look for collectibles and try to aid charming characters with their troubles.

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