Shantae returns for more Djinn and tonic

Ballerina, you must have seen her dancing in the sand.

Wayforward's de facto mascot, Shantae the Half-Genie, is returning to all formats for a brand new adventure - presumably alongside her variously pneumatic friends. Yes, that beloved combination of platforming and awkward fanservice is coming back for an astonishing, unexpected fifth go-around. It's the Dream Child of the Shantae franchise, the difficult fifth one. Shantae: Genisys. Shantae: Collision Course. Here's hoping the game will overcome that stigma.

Signs are good. I anticipate this will be of the exact same quality as the last couple of Shantaes, Pirate's Curse and Half-Genie Hero. The series has reliably offered B+ platforming matched with C- exploration for almost five years now, following the enjoyable hot mess of the Game Boy Color original and the barely-there whisper of a game that was the DSi's Shantae: Risky's Revenge. I wouldn't expect the formula to be deviated from a whole lot, for better or worse. Shantae is a good series, but has never quite managed "great" in my eyes. Avoiding contemptuous metaphors, while the series certainly looks the retro-darling part, it's usually masking underwhelming level design and an unbalanced difficulty curve. 

The extremely small amount of media seen so far suggests that the polygonal environments of 2016's Kickstarter darling Half-Genie Hero have been dropped in favour of more traditional 2D landscapes and backgrounds, which is a bit of a zero-sum decision. Half-Genie Hero had its problems, but I never personally felt that its aesthetic was one of them. It was an attractive game, but so was Pirate's Curse and that was all pixels, all the time. On the subject of visuals, researching series fans' observations about Shantae 5 led me to discover that the primary (and joyfully expressed) revelation here is that Shantae is wearing see-through pants, an observation so exceptionally in keeping with the franchise’s committed fanbase that I simply had to slide my chair back and raise a glass to my computer screen. Here's to you, masturbators. I am glad that you have this thing you enjoy.

I tease. I tease you because I love you. Look, I bought Senran Kagura: Bon Appetit, I haven't a leg to stand on. Besides, I absolutely count myself a fan of Shantae, despite my reservations about some of its content. I look forward to snapping this up when it releases later this year. If it's at least as good as the last two, it'll be a fun time. Who knows, maybe this will be the game that finally nails it? Maybe Shantae Episode 5 will be more The Empire Strikes Back and less A New Beginning.