Shantae: All the fun of the hair on Switch
Risky's Revenge heralds the complete series on Nintendo's handheld
Gosh, it feels like Shantae: Risky's Revenge only just came out. But it didn't, did it? It's actually a decade old. Sweet mother of pissing Christ. This Director's Cut edition has just hit Switch, an interesting monicker given that it is literally exactly the same as the DSiware version that first hit in 2010.
And it's as good as ever, which is to say fairly good. It's a Metroidvania-ish platformer that sees the feisty half-genie hero (oh, now I get it!) bopping about a succession of lushly-drawn Henk Nieborg worlds, flicking your shiny purple hair into enemy eye sockets and wondering just how they managed to make eight pixels' worth of breasts jiggle so.
A bit of a bite-sized adventure, Risky's Revenge only packs a couple of dungeons, but they're good fun. It's formative stuff, a step up from the absolutely baffling maze that is its predecessor, but still lacking a map that's actually useful, and its layout is fairly confusing. Still, it plays well, it looks great and it has a lovely soundtrack from Jake Kaufman.
It's a game you've most likely already played, but the cool part is that it's now on Switch, joining sequels Pirate's Curse, Half-Genie Hero and Seven Sirens, with the original Game Boy Color Shantae on its way to make the series complete on Nintendo's hybrid handheld. You just love to see it - every game in a series, released individually on the same format. And Shantae of all things, who has made her way from death-throes Game Boy Color obscurity to real indie prominence.
I'm not the series' biggest fan, taking pure game design into account (I always find they lack a certain je ne sais quoi), but I always pick 'em up and it's very cool to have the opportunity to experience Shantae's progression from bafflingly esoteric to something much more polished. It's not a case of the polish letting the games down, either, as for my money Half-Genie Hero is the best one, with the most satisfying gameplay progression. The fact that I'm a little tired of Metroidvanias helps, in that game's case.
My understanding is that WayForward also plan to re-release their extremely old Xtreme Sports game, which is nice of them, if not entirely necessary. It's a mini-game compilation of sorts with a nice RPG-lite structure and a familiar WayForwardy focus on putting the game's heroine (distressingly named "Guppi") into a swimsuit. It's very much formative, but the games are fun, easy to control and quite varied. It's just another example of WayForward respecting their legacy, really, more than most companies - since they've worked with so many licenses, it's close to impossible for some of their more celebrated titles to see re-release, but I admire the way they're putting their creator-owned stuff out there.
In the case of the original Shantae it's a fact that many gamers will be trying it for the first time, and will likely be... underwhelmed. But that's the nature of an evolving series - it has to start somewhere, and it's nice that we're going to be able to chart the entire franchise to date on a single system.