Shantae: Half-Genie Hero is the fourth game in the Shantae series, following Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse. It released in 2016 after a successful yet lengthy Kickstarter campaign that began in 2013. Upon release, its sales broke records on the Nintendo Switch. Anyway, I really enjoyed the predecessor. Therefore, when this came to Game Pass, playing it was a no-brainer. ½ Genie Hero, is a platform video game developed by WayForward Technologies.
You can check out our review for Shantae and the Pirates Curse here.
Shantae visits her Uncle Mimic, who is working on a new invention, the Dynamo. This will keep Scuttle Town constantly powered and safe from attack. However, the pirate Risky Boots begins a siege on Scuttle Town, with one of her Tinkerbat minions stealing Mimic’s blueprints. Shantae gives chase and defeats Risky, retrieving the blueprints.
Unfortunately, Mayor Scuttlebutt once again fires her from her position as the town’s guardian genie due to Risky’s escape and the damage incurred. Mimic reveals that several components are still needed to complete the Dynamo, so Shantae begins searching across Sequin Land for the remaining components.
The game is divided up into several action stages, which can be replayed to obtain new items that become accessible with the use of certain powers, some of which are required to progress through the story.
Like the previous instalments of the series, the player takes control of Shantae, a half-genie who can use her hair as a whip to attack enemies. Throughout the game, Shantae can obtain dances that allow her to transform into various forms, each with their own abilities that can access otherwise inaccessible areas. These transformations can be further upgraded with new abilities.
Shantae: Half-Genie Hero is more of the same if you’ve played any of the previous games. Still, considering these games are great that’s no bad thing. The biggest improvement is the implementation of high definition graphics. Before, Shantae games had a pixelated art style that was pleasing in its own right. However, ½ Genie Hero gives the visual style a complete overhaul. The art style is simply gorgeous to see in motion. Its vibrant visuals are a feast for the eyes. The animations are as adorable as ever.
Gameplay feels polished and responsive. It’s really fun, the animal transformations are a welcomed inclusion and each is cuter than the last. It gives each level variety and adds to their replayability.
Also, I’m happy to report that all of your favourite characters return. Sky, Bolo, Rottytops, even Squid Baron. Accompanying them is the endlessly charming dialogue that has become a staple of these games. The soundtrack deserves a special mention, it’s fantastic.
This isn’t a game that is going to stress you much in terms of difficulty. There are a few tough moments but on the whole this is a very accessible entry point for first time players of the franchise. The story is very standard, I would have liked some more creativity in this department. It’s extremely predictable, a bit lazy. Also, this felt far shorter than Pirates Curse. Another thing, a map would have useful as navigating levels can be confusing.
Overall, Shantae: Half-Genie Hero has the feel of an old-school Metroidvania. The biggest difference being that it has current generation visuals. It’s a blast to play, it has buckets of charm and I really enjoyed playing it.
Shantae: ½ Genie Hero