Shantae: Half-Genie Hero Nintendo Switch Review
The Nintendo Switch’s handheld mode makes all games look wonderful but Shantae: Half-genie hero really is something special. This is my first Shantae game and it really is one of the best platformers I’ve played in quite some time.
What is the gameplay like in Shantae: Half-genie hero?
Shantae places you in control of a little half-genie. Shantae is tasked with protecting her town. Where things begin to go awry for the townsfolk they turn to Shantae for solutions. This creates an initial hub and mission setup that feels kind of similar to some RPGs rather than a platformer. Large exclamation marks appear above the heads of characters who need a hand. Once you have accepted a mission a friend who owns a gigantic exotic bird flies you out of town and to the location of the problem that you need to solve.
The levels remind me a lot of Donkey Kong games. Shantae can run, jump, grab, climb and some levels see Shantae riding along a track. To hit objects or enemies Shantae swings her head forwards to unleash her hair. Whipping her hair into others is her predominant attack. Striking objects will regularly reward you with gems that can be spent in shops to upgrade Shantae. Upgrades include expanding health, increasing attack speed and learning new moves.
In addition to all of this fairly standard platforming shenanigans Shantae can also transform herself. This is the main method Shantae separates herself from other platform games. Being a bikini laden half-genie she enters a trance like dance and can alter her form. Different forms give her special abilities. As a monkey she can jump higher and hold onto walls and as an elephant she can charge through some walls. These transformations are great fun to explore with and see the levels open up in all sorts of interesting ways. The more time I spent revisiting levels once new transformations had been unlocked the more impressed I became with Shantae’s level design.
One of Shantae’s best features are the graphics. The colours, the character design, the animations and level design all come together beautifully. Shantae is a joy to behold in motion. It even rivals the likes of Rayman Legends for its looks.
The verdict on Shantae: Half-genie hero
Shantae: Half genie hero really surprised me. I was not expecting much for it thanks to the cute screenshots I had seen but the gameplay continued to impress me. The mission structure was very different for a platformer, the characters were fun and the levels were interesting to complete and revisit.