If you’re not familiar with the Shantae series, then I have to ask you where have you been? This series has been around since 2001’s Gameboy Color entry and have been available since Risky’s Revenge on a wide variety of platforms. This entry is Wayforward’s first attempt to change up the art style from the previous pixelated look into what is now fully hand drawn and the result is amazingly gorgeous. While Half-Genie Hero is not exactly a new game anymore (was originally released in 2016 after a very successful Kickstarter funding) this version of the game, the Ultimate Edition, includes not only all the previously released DLC that has come out between the original release and last year’s Friends till the End campaign but also includes bonus content that only backers of the game were able to get all in one complete package for some ultimate in platforming side scrolling action.
Shantae: Half-Genie Hero Ultimate Edition is, like the three previous games in the Shantae series, a 2D Platformer with elements of Metroidvania. You jump around, collect items and whip enemies with your hair as has always been the case. You’ll be taking on the role of the titular Shantae as she works with her uncle to create a brand-new contraption that will help protect the town, while also responding to threats to the town and defeating the enemies that come as part of that. The story is told mostly in text during small scenes between characters, with only a small amount of voice work within the game. The story and text that are there are charmingly written, with each character having a distinct personality and a whole lot of jokes thrown in. Characters bounce each other in dialogue, establishing and building on their relationships and Wayforward weren’t afraid to use the characters as an avenue to poke fun at themselves and the industry throughout the story. The story is your main driving force throughout the game, so it’s great that it is well written and fun to read
There are five main worlds to tackle, all linear platforming stages loaded with secrets and collectibles, and there is a hub-world in the form of Scuttle Town, where you go to buy items, talk to people and further the plot in between levels. From Scuttle Town you travel to the world map where you then choose where you want to go among the levels you've unlocked, and you also get a tally of how many of the hidden collectibles you've found in each level, so you can easily track your progression. Like previous installments, Shantae: Half-Genie Hero involves a lot of exploration, item collecting and backtracking. The game's world is similar in size if slightly larger than that of Shantae and the Pirate's Curse, which means it's decently sized and packed with secrets. Each level is divided into segments, each separated by a save screen that acts as a checkpoint if you get a game over. In addition to the whistle, you also get access early on to a dance that allows you to warp between the starts of the segments of levels you've already completed. You are also given a whistle near the start of the game that allows you to exit any level at any time and take you