Old School Cool: A decade after Shantae
By 2002, the Game Boy Color was all but dead. The successor to the original Game Boy, GBC had only been released a few years prior in 1998. Despite this, Nintendo released the far more capable and powerful Game Boy Advance only three years later in 2001. With the GBA's far superior capabilities, the GBC was all but forgotten.
But in 2002, an original title made its way to the system. An original side scrolling action platformer, in the vein of classic NES and SNES titles like Metroid and Castlevania, made its way to the Game Boy Color. It featured tight gameplay, catchy music, unique power ups and with unprecedented animations, it was undoubtedly the best looking title to ever grace the GBC.
That game was called "Shantae."
The game was developed by the retro gaming geniuses at Wayforward, a company known mostly for developing games based on licensed properties and has in recent years made a name for themselves developing titles like "Ducktales: Remastered" and the crown jewel of Nintendo's DSiWare library, "Shantae: Risky's Revenge."
A critical darling, "Shantae" is considered one of the best 2D action platformers ever to grace a handheld system. Due to its poor release timing however it sold very poorly, and those lucky few with copies would sell them on eBay for hundreds of dollars.
However after years of waiting, the title has just seen its first re release in history on Nintendo's 3DS eShop, and boy is it a treat.
In "Shantae" you control the teenage half-genie as she strives to defend her home of Scuttle Town from the invading pirate thief, Risky Boots.
Shantae's basic attack involves whipping enemies with her hair but as the game progresses you'll get the opportunity to gain new abilities.
Much like Metroid's system of acquiring new weapons to reach new areas, in "Shantae" you'll acquire a mystical belly dance move that will transform you into various animals such as a monkey to reach new areas.
The game controls like a dream, but it does have notable drawbacks. Despite often containing large levels, a la "Metroid," the game inexplicably offers no intricate map system (a feature also bafflingly left out of the DSi sequel) leaving you to wander around aimlessly until you get frustrated enough to check gamefaqs.com. Also the game camera can at times not cooperate and force you to make a guess when you make a jump off screen.
Shantae is a fantastic 2D platformer that no fan of the genre should miss. It's gorgeous and fluid animations and catchy soundtrack make it as aesthetically pleasing as it is to play. Large cavernous levels help to make the most out of the approximately 10 hours it will take for you to complete the game. And for only $4.99, it's an absolute steal.
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