Over the weekend I decided to pop in Shantae: 1/2-Genie Hero, because, well, I've been all over the place lately and seem to be having trouble focusing on one game for too long (with the exception of Tetris 99). Anyway, I've been in a bit of a Wii U mood lately and I had the "Risky Beats Edition" box sitting there on the shelf calling my name. The last time I played a Shantae game it was the original GBC game well over a decade ago. I remember liking it. I'm generally a fan of WayForward's platformers. And I do respect that they've managed to turn Shantae into a full fledged franchise now.
I'll tell you this: 1/2-Genie Hero looks fantastic. Really, what a great looking game. We can talk all day about how sprite-based games will always hold a special place in our nostalgic hearts, but when done right - like this - 2D HD is just gorgeous. And WayForward certainly has a great track record for these kinds of games. I totally adore their remake of Ducktales for instance. The music is also top notch. Did Vert do this soundtrack as well? He must have. I should google that but I'm lazy. I'll have to open up the soundtrack which came bundled with the game. It's got a really good sort of jazzy score which I wasn't quite expecting. Like... smooth jazz. It was almost jarring for a minute there, but once you ease into the game it does fit.
The game itself I'm sort of mixed on. The pure platforming is wonderful. Shantae is responsive and the jumping and attacking is tightly performed. I also dug the upgrades which let you turn into other creatures. The monkey rules with his super high jumps and ability to wall-climb. The levels are fun and well designed and the boss battles are awesome. The boss battles are really where the graphics are a total treat.
HOWEVER, I was sort of instantly put off by the hub world. You have to talk to NPC's to figure out quests or whatever, and that's all fine and good I guess. It gives you a chance to buy upgrades and stuff. But... man, I hate that quests involve you replaying certain levels over again with different objectives. I just don't really care for this set up. It makes it feel a bit like forced padding the game out. I'd much rather just play a level, go back to the hub, play the next level, in a more linear fashion. I don't know. So while the actual gameplay was fun, I felt it was kind of a drag to then go back and play a level over again. I would have preferred a shorter game with less repeat assets. So something more akin to the Ducktales remake which I can beat quickly, but it never outstays its welcome.
Oh well. It's a good game, but because of the forcd deja vu, I'll probably take it slower and in pieces instead of just running through all at once.