Originally released on DSiWare, the Nintendo DSi’s digital platform that has its days numbered, Shantae: Risky’s Revenge is the second title of a character who entered Game Boy Color in 2002 and would remain in the WayForward chest for eight years until winning new breath in this title. Very few could feel a special affection for Shantae, as the launch was limited to the North American market and a modest run under Capcom’s responsibility, certainly as a result of its late launch on the console that brought color to the range of handheld consoles from Nintendo. With Risky’s Revenge, Matt Bozon and the rest of the team showed that there was something more to add to the platform and genre that this title focuses on, giving rise to a legacy that has justified three sequels to date on a variety of platforms.
Nothing changes in the narrative aspect of this new Director’s Cut version and as such, the infamous pirate Risky Boots will attempt his revenge for stealing a magic lamp whose powers are still unknown. She also needs to obtain three magic seals in order to release the power contained in the stolen lamp, leaving the player to find them to prevent the danger from invading Sequin Land. As a matter of fact, the story told here takes place after the events of the original title and will make more sense to those who already know them, but nothing prevents Risky’s Revenge from having a self-sustaining plot that can be fully enjoyed without prior knowledge of the series.
Whoever played Castlevania in the post- Symphony of the Night era, a 2D Metroid or any other title that has come under the influence of these cult series – the increasingly popular “metroidvania” – can have a similar structure in Risky’s Revenge . That is, the game does not take place over levels, but rather as a single map in which access to new areas is dependent on the acquisition of certain skills that will allow you to reach new places that were previously inaccessible. This induced return forms a large part of what makes this genre so exciting for players, but it is also difficult to conceive with satisfactory results for game designers.
This Shantae it is not perfect in this, since the universe of Sequin Land is not as extensive and full of secrets as would be desirable. The three main dungeons have varying results in terms of level design but in general, they are quite competent. Boss fights are also satisfactory but fail to take full advantage of Shantae’s transformations – monkey, elephant and mermaid – which are key mechanics in the protagonist’s progression through access to new play areas, which can give way to a certain fragmentation feeling. Even so, the mixture of elements of dexterity, puzzle solving and memorization of the places to revisit on the map is present throughout the game, which will last close to eight hours for the most dedicated.
About this new edition of the DSiWare cult title, Director’s Cut adds a renewed system of fast navigation between points on the map and an additional degree of difficulty called Magic Mode, which allows dressing Shantae with an alternative fatiota that despite reducing the consumption of magic, cuts in defense against enemy attacks. The entire interface was partly redesigned to take advantage of a single screen – this reissue was originally released on Windows – something that would be welcome if a dual screen mode were also available, which is not the case. This not only makes access to the map more time consuming, but also the switching between magical abilities and items is no longer so immediate in this Switch version, a decision that is hardly comprehensible given the console’s ability for two screens.
Despite being a very welcome addition to the Switch library, Risky’s Revenge is a title inferior to The Pirate’s Curse in several aspects: animation, characterization, drawing of bosses and dungeons – and thankfully that feels, it only supports the evolution of the series in the positive sense. For those who played the original on DSiWare or the remake on Switch, there are few news that justify a second investment and this is clearly not an edition for this audience. For those who have already played their sequel, and although they are mechanically different games, there is a visible lack of content and incentive to exploit given the more “contained” nature of the title in question, but the reduced price is a reflection of that and ends up compensating these deficits.
Although a bit older, Risky’s Revenge still holds up beautifully on a platform and animation level. A nice little pickup for those who missed the game on DSi or WiiU.