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Review: Shantae: Half-Genie Hero (Nintendo Switch)By Adam Riley At 18.06.2017 22:14

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Sequin Land is in trouble once more, and Shantae, despite being fired from her role of protector of Scuttle Town and beyond, takes it upon herself to thwart all sorts of villains, arch nemesis Risky Boots included. She is actually trying to help her uncle build a device that will mean she can finally take a rest and watch as it protects the land forever. There is always a twist, though, as things can never be so easy…

Intriguingly, rather than wandering around to reach new areas, as before, Shantae now uses Scuttle Town as her base of operations where she can buy new upgrades and chat to locals to glean imperative information from them on where to go next. Whilst there, she also takes advantage of a large bird to fly her all over the place, with different areas requiring re-visits on several occasions to acquire all of the relevant moves and special items to complete the over-arching mission, tackling a wide array of bosses along the way with her hair-whipping skills.

Those familiar with the Metroid and post-Symphony of the Night Castlevania entries will be right at home with the format, since what at first appears to be a (gorgeously colourful and superbly crisp HD) platform romp, actually turns out to be a deep adventure with layers upon layers of goodness to uncover. Every stage has hidden depths that may not always be apparent upon first visit. It is with the addition of new abilities that the world opens up even more to the half-genie heroine.

Shantae can access her various special moves and abilities via the usual hypnotic dancing routine, with some moves brought back from past iterations, plus a smattering of newer ones to keep things fresh, most of which are upgradeable after initially attaining them. Spring higher than before in monkey form, and then add the ability to cling to walls, and, finally, how about holding on and shooting like a rocket across a short distance? Yes, all possible. Turn into a crab that can learn to snip away at pesky underwater foliage with its pincers, or become a mermaid that can swim anywhere and gains the ability to blast away deep sea boulders with powerful bubbles. The elephant transformation also comes in handy for charging through barriers, or progressing to doing a 'ground pound' to break through weakened floors. There is lots of switching forms to unlock secrets, but then others that will hardly be used.

Half-Genie Hero certainly has a lot to offer in terms of variety and makes great use of most of the moves on the table, making for some mental notes needing to be taken when working through a level to remember areas that can probably be accessed later on when new abilities have been garnered. On the flip side, though, some of the abilities are definitely tacked on to make up the numbers, such as one that is merely required a solitary time right near the end, and others that are merely "interesting" but of no specific value - something the game even alludes to when players initially complete it (far too swiftly on standard difficulty, it should be noted - definitely stick to the hardcore option) by giving a New Game+ style new mode where "key" moves are unlocked from the start, rather than all of them, basically pointing to how others are of less importance, if actually needed at all.

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Final Score
Whilst it starts off somewhat slow, [i]Shantae: Half-Genie Hero[/i] quickly kicks into top gear and stays there right until the end, making for one of the most engrossing 2D platform adventures of recent times. A few unnecessary special abilities may have been tacked on, but the balance for the essential ones is spot on. Also, it may suffer from being too easy on the standard difficulty setting, but there is a harder setting for veterans to tackle, as well as plenty of reasons to revisit the different levels included, with a Metroid-esque feel to proceedings at times.



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