Publisher/Developer: WayForward Release Date: May 28, 2020 (console/PC) Platform: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, Apple Arcade Players: 1 Price: $29.99 (console/PC)
*Review Code Provided By WayForward*
The Shantae franchise has been running for nearly 20 years since the original Shantae in 2002 for the Game Boy Color. Created by Erin and Matt Bozon of Wayforward Technologies, the character Shantae has gone from being a cult classic franchise to where it is now as a mainstream heavy hitter that is still maintaining 2D gameplay that mixes both MetroidVania style gameplay with classic Mega Man and X aspects and continues to refine itself and the formula with each new entry. Visually, the Wayforward has done so much to maintain 2D gaming with incredibly animated artstyles with both pixelated styles in games in like River City Girls and The Mummy Demastered as well as hand drawn art seen in Shantae Half Genie Hero and Mighty Switch Force Remastered which continues onwards to this newer entry in the Shantae franchise with Shantae and the Seven Sirens. So the question we all are curious to know is if Shantae and the Seven Sirens a game that lives up to not only the franchise legacy, but does it also live it to the pedigree of what Wayforward is best known for? Let’s find out.
Shantae and the Seven Sirens kicks off with Shantae, Sky, Bolo, and Uncle Mimic heading to a resort island for a vacation following the events of Half Genie Hero where they plan to get some R&R. They run into the Mayor of the town and eventually Shantae is coerced into joining the Half Genie Festival that ends with the other 4 Half Genies being kidnapped leaving Shantae to save them and figure out the mystery of the island and the Seven Sirens.
If you’ve played any game in the franchise before then you’ll feel right at home with this game. If you haven’t played a Shantae game before then basically it’s a MetriodVania which is a 2D side scrolling game that has you utilizing different abilities and items that allow you to reach new areas that you previously could not reach before to proceed onwards. Shantae has a hair whip attack, can jump, crawl, utilize sub weapons, curative items, and has her signature dance ability that allows her to transform……typically.
In this entry she doesn’t transform from the dancing as her transformations are based in her abilities gained such as turning into a newt that can do a striking dash and wall climb or a spinning turtle that can destroy walls and a frog that can swim in the water. What you can do when using Shantae’s dancing abilities known as Fusion Magic is the ability to see hidden items and platforms, purifying poisoned water with the ability to heal Shantae, and even use an earthquake level screen nuke that can also move platforms around.
The gameplay of Seven Sirens compared to Half Genie Hero is significantly faster to the point where I personally had to readjust to the speed and needing to know when to react to the enemies and dodging attacks. The faster speed of the gameplay reminds me of Pirate’s Curse and it will have you feeling right at home running and whipping the enemies and moving forward to the next area. Platforming is such a central aspect of the game and the more abilities you unlock and gain and the further in the game you get the more you’re going to have the opportunity to use everything you’ve learned to explore further and get to the chapter’s end boss. The most trying of levels of the final chapter which has you doing EVERYTHING and I hope you remembered everything you’ve learned along the way.
The more you explore; the more the maps will open up and allow you to see how each of the chapter levels all interconnect to the central hub of the town as you gain new abilities from Fusion Coins gained from the various genies.
One of the coolest new features of Seven Sirens is the ability to use Monster Cards for various buffs to abilities and base stats such as turning gems into healing hearts or green magic jars, or even increasing the ability of your Fusion Magic attacks and abilities. You’re able to select from any mix-match of 3 Monster Cards that that you can gain from defeating various enemies in the game or by trading the Golden Nuggets found in various caves or in chapter dungeons which allows you to trade them with different NPC characters in each of the towns to get rare boss cards.
You can increase your health by finding Squid Hearts that you can take to the smith so she can ….MELT…. THEM… DOWN….! You typically find them in caves which will require you to use the various Fusion Magic environmental affecting dances as well as transformations to gain the Squid Hearts. To gain one extra point requires you to have about 4 Squid Hearts.
Side note is that you find out that the Squid Hearts that you are melting down for health are actually the nephews of Squid Baron who says that he has to go pick them up from school and that they aren’t too hard to find. The 4th wall breaking aspect of this really was something else as its both hilarious and pretty sad at the same time.
This game is STUNNING! The fact that the game is so vibrant and so fluidly animated in it’s hand draw style is just STUNNING! New to this entry is the inclusion of the animated intro, cutscenes, and ending all done by the critically acclaimed animation house Studio TRIGGER’s. This is a first for the franchise and it really is amazing to see and while it may not be the most smoothest of animation when put side by side to something like My Hero Academia; it is still a stunning thing to see.
The visuals of the in game graphics are the same as Half Genie Hero’s which isn’t a bad thing at all as that entry was the first in the franchise to be in HD and is still to this day beautiful to look at in screenshots and unbelievable to see in motion. What separates Seven Sirens from Half Genie Hero is the fact that Seven Sirens is able to be played and viewed in 4K if you are playing this on Apple Arcade on Apple TV 4K, PS4 Pro, Xbox One X, and PC. If you are on the Nintendo Switch, base PS4/PS4 Slim, or Base Xbox One/One S then you will get the game in 1080P and on the Switch undocked or Switch Lite then it’ll be 720P.
All the characters from Shantae, Risky Boots, Rottytops, Sky, Bolo, the Half Genies, and environments all are animated in great detail and move in a fluid manner that feels like you’re looking at your favorite animation in motion. The dungeons are littered with tons of enemies and all look incredible and are vibrant with different effects that illuminate areas you can explore and more.
The music in this game is so good and catchy that you’ll find yourself humming the tunes as you play the game. The music for the towns, dungeons, areas your exploring, and more are so good with their mixing of chip tune and musical instruments with my favorite theme being the Mines dungeon theme which sounds so good.
The voice acting in the game is done well too as each voice actor matches their character perfectly with the main character of Shantae being voiced by Christina Vee who captures the liveliness of our favorite Half Genie.
Now when it comes to downsides, I’ve got a few things to mention which are moreso nitpicks than they are actual problems.
I honestly don’t understand why Risky Boots is fought so many times in this game, and while I understand that she is pivotal to the plot of the game; I still dislike the fact that the only thing that changes in the 4-5 times you fight Risky are her health increasing and her gaining one new move per fight. I just feel that when it comes to Risky Boots boss fights, they were overused and made little sense to me and I feel as if they could’ve removed a large amount of those fights.
I also ran into issues of the game having some slow down in some of the dungeons when too much is going on but to be fair I am reviewing this on the Nintendo Switch and am unsure if this is something that is occurring only on this version of the game or if this is something that will be fixed in a future update.
I was not at all a fan of the fact that the game is not fully voice acted and I know that’s minor but at the same time I find it odd how some lines are voiced and others are just……text and there’s not rhyme or reason as to what is the trigger to the characters speaking. Maybe this was a budget restraint but to me it is just odd if not downright jarring at times.
Lastly, I have to acknowledge that it is incredibly easy to get lost in this game and for some dungeons to feel like they drag on for far too long and the game has no checkpoint system either. When I first played the game I found it was odd that I kept running into so many save points but I get why as it’s the games way of telling you to save as soon as you see the little old green guy because if you don’t then welcome to game over and I pray you saved your game. The length of the final dungeon was a too long and had some annoying enemy placement and environmental hazards that made even a gaming veteran like me humble. At no point did I ever know when I was close to the end of the dungeon because it continued to throw wave after wave of enemy gauntlets that just got tiring after the 10th wave.
Again, these are all nitpicks that I have with the game not actual issues other than the slowdown.
Shantae and the Seven Sirens is an incredibly fun game with a lot of variety in it’s gameplay, an interesting and engaging story that takes a lot of turns you may not see coming, and is a visual stunner start to finish with minimal issues and for a game that will take you roughly 8-10 hours to beat with a New Game+ and more all for the nice price of 29.99; you simply cannot go wrong with this game. I truly enjoyed my time with this game and while I may find Half Genie Hero and Pirates Curse to be the superior games to this, I still think that this game is a solid entry and a great entry point if you are interested in getting in to the franchise. Shantae and the Seven Sirens is a game YOU NEED in your collection!