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Review: Shantae: Half-Genie Hero - Ultimate Edition (PC)By GnarlyTortoise At 14.05.2018 22:46

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In many ways, this game feels like it was designed first and foremost for the fans of the series. Not only because it went through Kickstarter, thus giving the team a chance to be "involved" with its development, but because of its overall presentation. Many, if not all, of the major characters included have appeared in previous titles, from the assistants and allies on your adventure, to the antagonists standing in your way. Newcomers may be somewhat taken aback by how every character seems to know each other, and with this dispensing with character introductions. This is not much of a hurdle, as the characters and overall tone are very playful and silly, which doesn't really require complex character development. This game is syrupy-sweet and bubbly with a vibrant colour palette that keeps the entire experience nice and light.

Mechanically, Half-Genie Hero feels pretty simple, although it does have some interesting elements to it. Shantae has the usual platforming skills of running and jumping, in addition to her genie magic. Throughout, you can exchange gems for more spells and more powerful versions of those spells, which range from a nifty trick to have in sticky situations to completely trivialising much of the challenge. Skilled and thorough players will be able to acquire very powerful spells, as well as the means to cast them indefinitely, which certainly can reduce some of the challenge later on. The other major mechanic within is the transformation system; it allows Shantae to transform into anthropomorphised animal versions of herself to overcome obstacles, or to bypass them completely. The game really begins to take off and hit its stride as the player accumulates more transformations, and thus the complexity of the puzzles increases.

These transformations also help overcome some aspects that feel a bit lacking. Shantae's movement does not feel as crisp as many other 2D platformers on the market right now. She can feel a bit slow, and her jumps are lacking in height. If she could move a little faster, and were a bit springier in her jumps, it would make traversal of the levels feel more cohesive and fluid as you progress from obstacle to obstacle with a satisfying rhythm. Instead, you tend to feel just a little bit slow, and some of the platforming mechanics that can't be executed with a transformation can get a bit tedious. Fortunately, those transformations are there, and they give you options, such as becoming a monkey with greater speed and jumping height, or to skip over jumps completely by flying instead with the bat transformation.

Players will be putting all these transformations to use in a fun, albeit brief campaign. Half-Genie Hero has true Metroidvania elements, with each of the five stages having some treasures and abilities hidden away until the player can come back with transformations or abilities obtained later in the adventure. Even with these elements, a thorough and complete run of the main story can be done in less than eight hours. The game does not lack replayability, however, as there are a variety of arcade-style modes and alternate storylines to play through. Some of these run an almost identical path as the campaign, but still provide a different experience thanks to the different skill-sets, mechanics, and environmental tweaks.

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[i]Shantae: Half-Genie Hero - Ultimate Edition[/i] in many ways feels like a greatest hits album for the Shantae series. From the returning characters, to the returning transformations, this feels like a way for the fans to celebrate the series they have been following for more than 15 years. There is plenty here for newcomers of the series to enjoy, as well, as long as they don't care about minor things like character introductions. Along the way, they will encounter some fun and often self-referential humour and some challenging puzzles in a colourful and sugary sweet package.



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