Shantae awakens to the town she protects being attacked! Upon investigating what is happening, she finds out that the mayor has traded away the town to the Ammo Baron for some chocolates, and the new owner is here to turn the town into a fortress. Despite having her powers stripped, she still decides to face the Ammo Baron and his forces to try and protect Scuttle Town. After defeating the Ammo Baron, the Royal Guard of Sequin Land Palace arrive to place Shantae under house arrest for attacking the rightful land owner, and inform her that she may be punished by removing her weapon, which is her beautiful hair.
It is then that she is attacked by Risky Boots as part of a misunderstanding and finds out that the Pirate King is trying to be resurrected. As Risky Boots wants to rule the seas herself, the Pirate King being resurrected is something she does not want to allow to happen. Shantae also feels this threat sounds menacing enough to warrant stopping, so the unlikely pair team up and the adventure begins.
I found the story to be a lot of fun. The characters were very likeable, and the humour laced throughout the dialogue is hilarious. As far as the story is concerned, it was good enough to make me want to see this one through to the end, and kept me intrigued as to what would happen next, and who we will meet along the way.
The music in Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse is amazing. Every track is exquisite and varied. Each towns theme suits the look and feel, and each environment has a musical number that fits the area perfectly. Different situations also have music that suits that situation, which is especially noticeable in the fierce boss battles or the more laid back and relaxed tunes in the towns.
As far as the sound goes, it is also done to an extremely high level. Each attack has a satisfying whack to it. The few words here and there you hear spoken are quite cute, though can be a little off putting as there isn’t any voice acting besides the odd word.
Visuals & Performance
The art style in Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse is superb. Unlike 1/2 Genie Hero, this Shantae game has a pixel art style that is reminiscent of many indie games at the moment. This isn’t just another one of those though, as the level of detail and quality is great. The character models are beautiful, environments are gorgeous, and the towns look lively. Each island you travel to has its own look and feel, but it always fits within the Shantae universe they have created. No area looks out of place, which speaks to the coherent design they have achieved with this one.
In terms of performance, Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse is very smooth. At no point was I ever hampered by slow downs or bugs of any kind. The amount of polish is very high.
Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse is a traditional 2d platformer at its heart. You travel to each level, complete a set of objectives, rinse and repeat. The difference with this game is that each level is kind of a world in and of itself. It feels like you are exploring a new island location, rather than just going from level to level. There is a metroidvania vibe, without going too far in that backtracking direction.
As far as the platforming goes, it is of the highest quality. The controls are extremely solid, which allows for precise platforming. The act of controlling Shantae is a pure joy, which makes the entire game enjoyable.
You begin the game with a basic jump, attack, and the ability to use a magic lamp to suck up clouds of dark magic among other things. As you progress, you gain access to different weapons and abilities. You will get a sword for some different attacks, a cannon which you can use to propel Shantae, and a pirate hat that works as a sort of hang glider, and many more fun techniques.
The objectives you must complete in each level vary enough to keep things from getting stale. The way you get these missions are generally through conversations with other characters. They give you hints as to what you need to do through what they are saying, and it is up to you to work out how to achieve those goals. Thankfully these goals are never too hard to work out, so you won’t get stuck trying to work out what needs to be done. One problem is that it is difficult to remember exactly what needs to be done as you don’t have a quest log to keep track of these, but you are generally only doing one at a time anyway so it doesn’t tend to get in the way too much.
Is Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse worth your hard earned cash? The price point places it at the higher end of eShop indie prices, but I feel the level of polish and design that has gone into this game makes it well worth the asking price. Not only that, but you will get a good 9 hours plus out of the main game. You also get multiple endings and some additional modes and features that makes this a worthy addition to your Switch library.
Tight, precise platforming feels great
Good sound design
Backtracking can get annoying
Hard to follow the story at first for those new to the series