Shantae review for Nintendo Switch: 1000 and a small barrel, between wine and vinegar

In our review we rewind time by returning to twilight of the Game Boy Color: Is Shantae on Nintendo Switch still brilliant?

Our object of review, The first Shantae to Nintendo Switch, marks the second significant return of a retro handheld console on the Grande N hybrid.The first case we saw with SNK vs. Capcom: Fight of the Millennium, the first chapter of the series in which Ryu and Terry met and clashed in the ring, in the Neogeo Pocket Color Collection series of re-editions. Before that title, as it was officially declared, reopened the way for the SNK vs. Capcom, all that remained of the concept was the presence of Terry in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

Similarly, we now have the return of the mascot of WayForward, a real flagship of the indie scene. The girl, half genie of the lamp, had truly humble origins. His debut on Game Boy Color (and Game Boy Advance, but we'll get to that) it happened quietly, in a time when you couldn't really go anywhere without a publisher. We talked in our article about how now the Capcom logo, no longer involved in the re-release of the title, has been digitally removed. The Guardian of Scuttle Town is back: will it be fit?

Not very eighteenth-century top, pirate skull

At this point in the review we would talk about the plot... but with a title as "old" as the first Shantae we should make an exception for the development of the port on Nintendo Switch. However, in the article mentioned above we have said a little everything there was to say in this sense, so we can talk about the narrative premise and, by extension, the tones. The basic idea is simple: the protagonist is the guardian of Scuttle Town, port city of the kingdom of Sequin Land. The latter is as accustomed to pirate attacks as the game world is to magic.

Shantae's adoptive father, inventor and archaeologist Mimic, balances the eternal ideological-narrative conflict between science and magic. His latest invention, the steam engine, will prove revolutionary for navigation, but unfortunately the infamous pirate Risky Boots he has his eye on him (on the engine, not on Mimic). The provocative (but never too much) design of the protagonist, the antagonist and many of the supporting actors fully reflects WayForward's amused (and often funny) approach to fanservice: an attractive wrapper for (almost) infallible gameplay.

Shantae review for Nintendo Switch: 1000 and a small barrel, between wine and vinegar

La-Sultana - Shantae Review for Nintendo Switch

In terms of gameplay, Shantae's core is that of a Metroidvania: the platformer more devoted to exploration than to the simple challenges from point A to point B full of jumps, although in the review phase this little pearl for Nintendo Switch has never failed to put a strain on our reflexes. By contextualizing the title in the period in which it was released (or even by doing without it), a lot of inventiveness and desire to stand out from the crowd. Matt Bozon and the rest of the WayForward crew had definitely been right, but perhaps the game was too far ahead of its time.

Let's cut the bull's head: they are present two versions of the game, and each of them (as revealed by the same creator of the port, Modern Vintage Gamer) carries its own three save slots. For a metroidvania, the time that the title asks the player to devote to it is not little, but this has to do with the unfortunate period of debut of the game itself (the original). Unfortunately, the early XNUMXs saw the release of the Game Boy Advance; instead of directly switching console, a more advisable choice in hindsight, WayForward persisted in its vision limiting itself to add support to the L and R keys.

Shantae review for Nintendo Switch: 1000 and a small barrel, between wine and vinegar

Shake your (risky) booty – Recensione Shantae per Nintendo Switch

In reality, Shantae's content that makes use of the "extra" buttons isn't a lot, but since the Nintendo Switch port made it necessary to have separate slots with a function of quick save we have opted, as we also advise you to do, to play the "GBA enhanced" version directly. Unfortunately, however, despite it lighter color scheme this incarnation does not fit the more generous screen resolution of the Game Boy Advance, and this affects the gameplay in one of its biggest flaws. You have probably already guessed it, but we would like to make a premise.

Not unlike the very first Kid Icarus, we are dealing with a title that is all the more difficult the less time is spent with him. The game begins with Risky Boots' assault on Scuttle Town, without giving the player much time to understand some gameplay rudiments. For example, a vital piece of information during the initial hustle and bustle is the “mariesque” running management: a single press to strike with Shantae's hair, a constant to sprint. The girl's jumps, more or less generous, need to inertia, and running makes the difference between life and death very soon.

Shantae review for Nintendo Switch: 1000 and a small barrel, between wine and vinegar

Bel mare, Belmont - Shantae review for Nintendo Switch

Speaking of the fighting, the flick with which Shantae can use her hair to defend herself results in a not very fluid management of the clashes, which in the review phase is even more at fault considering that we are playing on Nintendo Switch. Contrary to more dynamic attacks, like Donkey Kong Country's somersault or the spin of a random Crash Bandicoot, Scuttle Town's Guardian Spezza fully the pace of exploration whenever he has to confront an enemy, stopping in position to strike. And the margin of error, for attacks, is very small.

Since we brought up the whips, a point in Shantae's favor and against more illustrious exponents of metroidvania like Castlevania lies in our reaction to the blows suffered. The initial six life points, although very low at first, are suddenly expendable if we consider that their loss is the only punishment for every blow suffered. There is no bump back, and considering how close the camera make many falls into real leaps of faith, that's good. However, you will have to learn to rely on quick saves, given the alternative for those who want to save in the traditional way.

Shantae review for Nintendo Switch: 1000 and a small barrel, between wine and vinegar

You know, I just passed (remote) from here - Shantae review for Nintendo Switch

Like any self-respecting old-style metroidvania, in Shantae there are the most blessed "save points”: Those sporadic points where we can catch our breath, present only in the cities and, occasionally, between one village and another. You will have with you screw, after which you run into a screen of game over (we prefer the view of Risky Boots to the snout of Uka Uka, but these are details). However, the “continue” option does not take us to the area where we were defeated, but to our last save. The risk of lose progress it is therefore very present, tangible and, sometimes, directly proportional to how many we have made.

Which is really a shame, since the crossings between one city and another soon become necessary for reasons of plot or shops and buildings exclusive to each location. As evidence of the most ancient game design influences, the shortcuts are also present here, but with the absurd criterion of unlocking the teleportation polyps. In each area there are four, with which the protagonist can access a special belly dance to be able to move quickly from one place to another. However, often at least one requires you to unlock something in subsequent worlds. What does it mean?

Shantae review for Nintendo Switch: 1000 and a small barrel, between wine and vinegar

Nothing comes from diamonds - Shantae Review for Nintendo Switch

Writing this Shantae review for the Nintendo Switch so far has been a stab. It was for us too, but don't worry: luckily we're done talking badly about it. Not surprisingly, we talked about a more "annoying" initial phase; as soon as you unlock the first transformation the adventure opens up considerably. In an established mechanic featured in almost every sequel, the eponymous protagonist can benefit from special belly dances with which to transform into different creatures. The powers of each allow, depending on the case, to enhance an aspect between mobility and effectiveness in battle.

Let's take the first and best known skill as an example. The simian form deprives us of any attack, true, but it also allows us to jump much higher and climb any wall. Wanting to make a comparison with The Legend of Zelda, we don't think so much about the masks of Majora's Mask as about the simple unlockable shortcuts in each dungeon. In addition to opening up new paths, it makes backtracking a thousand times easier, at first tedious and now suddenly funny. We talked in the incipit of fanservice tied to double thread with the gaming experience; we meant this.

Shantae review for Nintendo Switch: 1000 and a small barrel, between wine and vinegar

Grinding (Risky) Boots – Recensione Shantae per Nintendo Switch

The game invites us to never let our guard down anyway. Transformations are not everything, in fact, and already in the second city the emporiums are starting to sell. We have equipment with which to make life easier, bracelets, rings and necklaces, through potions and others instruments single use. As a good metroidvania as it is, in fact, Shantae does not deny role-playing elements. These will soon lead us to repeat ourselves in the beat up enemies repeatedly so that they drop some gems. There is a night club in Scuttle Town to scrape up money with belly dancing (an idea perhaps nowadays impossible to propose), but we will also get to the rhythm game parenthesis.

In this sense, the margins for improvement for our self-defense possibilities are wasted, including expansions for our health and so on. Our willingness to explore and experiment is rewarded in a way commendable (although it immediately becomes a necessity), as each city has different advantages. The two constants remain i thermal baths, in which to regenerate in pure Kid Icarus style (coincidence?) and the aforementioned “Save room”. To access some areas, however, you must also take into account the day and night cycle, an interesting mechanic but occasionally intrusive.

Shantae review for Nintendo Switch: 1000 and a small barrel, between wine and vinegar

What a horrible night to have a (pirate's) curse - Shantae review for Nintendo Switch

Shantae's first level spectacular play of light was a prelude to the alternation of day and night, perhaps less "ambitious" than the realism seen in Pokémon Gold and Silver but of undoubted impact. Outside the cities and dungeons, in fact, occasionally night will fall, or vice versa the sun will rise as the case may be. This affects the behavior of the enemies, openly more hostile at night, but it can also bring with it advantages starting from the variable accessibility of some functions, such as the aforementioned night club (appropriately open only at night).

Among the mini-games in the game, belly dance stands out, which for a moment strips this metroidvania of its role as a platformer to make it a rhythm game. Beyond the heavy daring implications, between the time slot in which it all happens and the fact that the gems come to us kindly, ahem, thrown by the public, is a great method to avoid monetary grinding to get around the thorniest corners of the game. When this is not enough, we can rely on maps, accessible in a slightly more unusual way than other exponents of the genre.

Shantae review for Nintendo Switch: 1000 and a small barrel, between wine and vinegar

How not to get lost in the art gallery - Shantae review for Nintendo Switch

In the main menu of the Nintendo Switch version of the first Shantae there is also the option "extras”, Which consists of a image gallery that we have consulted several times during the review phase. As old as they may be, the illustrative sketches along the lines of Ken “Pokémon” Sugimori (needless to say, fans of the series) have been carefully preserved, giving fans of the WayForward mascot the opportunity to archive them as well. Beyond the hand drawings, we can also find full sprite maps of the characters, including almost all their animations.

However, we did not talk about random "maps". Although the set of all sprite for an element it is called a "map" (or spritesheet, if after you want to search the web out of curiosity), the gallery generously includes also the literals maps of the four main dungeons. Perhaps the purpose of their inclusion is the mere visual impact of the scenario of a side scrolling title framed from a distance. We, on the other hand, took advantage of them with great ignorance, exploiting them in tandem with quick bailouts to be able to consult them. Albeit perhaps unintentionally, this release provides more ways to manage the whole experience.

Shantae review for Nintendo Switch: 1000 and a small barrel, between wine and vinegar

Craft Virtuosity - Shantae Review for Nintendo Switch

We are moving towards the thousand and first night of this review, evaluating the technical aspect of Shantae for Nintendo Switch. Graphically speaking, there is little to complain: the debut of the most beloved protagonist of the WayForward house has known exude personality from every pixel from the very first moments of the game, with sprites so characterized and expressive (just enough to dodge the portraits during the dialogues) that SNK's work with Metal Slug also dwindles. Speaking of SNK, let's bring up the initial confrontation with the first SNK vs. Capcom (with whom it shares an excellent LCD filter): the re-edition of the WayForward house seemed bare in the additions (the new screen that replaces that of Capcom in the emulated game borders on minimalism), and stands up solely for the merits of the original title.

This bit of regret does not affect the aspect of the at all sonoro, where the volcanic talent of Jake “Virt” Kaufman. From the markedly Middle Eastern tones of the first incarnation of “Burning Town” to the more sober melodies like the interior of the dungeons, every note is in its place. On the other hand, it seems no coincidence that the same composer later moved on to larger projects (DuckTales Remastered) or cross-media (Big Bad Bosses: Power Overwhelming, collaboration with four different YouTube channels). Kaufman's debut on the digital keyboard immediately made it clear that he was one of the new big names in the industry. Although we would not have despised a test audio to enjoy the soundtrack in separate headquarters there is very little to complain about.

Shantae review for Nintendo Switch: 1000 and a small barrel, between wine and vinegar

Final considerations

Shantae for Nintendo Switch, however rough, was born as a diamond right from the start. The eight euros and twenty-nine cents requests can be more or less contextualized, depending on your tastes, but if you love less linear platformers and feel up to the challenge we can only highly recommend it. Otherwise, we can only suggest to collectors to add the game icon to the Home menu only if they have the remaining four, but honestly speaking, fans of the series will have already done so. To embellish the hybrid version of the Grande N also contributes to the fact that the console at the moment is the only one to host the entire saga.

As a game it is a child of its time, for better or for worse. On the one hand, it far exceeded the ambition of many other games of the time. On the other hand, it's still a 2002 title: not a bad title, but undoubtedly more aimed at existing fans. If you are not part of it, you should avoid the chronological order of the saga and start from more easily palatable titles. For those of you who have already played it on the Nintendo 3DS Virtual Console, then, the advice is directly to leave the lamp where. Eventually, a discount will take care of scrubbing it in the magical cave of Wishlist.

This was what we thought. But what is your opinion? Tell us below, and as always don't forget to stay on techigames to read other reviews and get all the most important news on the gaming sphere and beyond. For your gamer needs, you can instead find the best discounts in digital format on Instant Gaming.

7 Extravagant and (at the time) revolutionary

Points in favor

  • Fantastic presentation for a Game Boy Color game ...
  • Great addition of the Game Boy Advance version ...
  • The game rewards the curious ...
  • Nice gallery ...
  • Manicured sprites ...

Points against

  • ... a little less as a reissue
  • ... pity only about separate bailouts
  • ... often as long as they return from subsequent worlds
  • ... but it is practically only for maps
  • ... too much to guarantee comfortable shots
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