#365Games39: Shantae: Risky’s Revenge – DSiWare

File this under “games-I-should-have-reviewed-last-year.” Shantae: Risky’s Revenge is easily one of the best games I’ve played over the past few years and it takes a lot to impress me. A throwback sprite-based game that takes advantage of new technology, SRR combines that with an interesting story and decent soundtrack.

In case you aren’t familiar with the game, here’s the plot from Wikipedia: “Things had been quiet in Scuttle Town since Shantae’s clash with the pirate Risky Boots. During the annual Relics Hunters Expo, she and her friends see fellow Relic Hunter Uncle Mimic unveil his latest find: an ordinary-looking lamp encased in stone. Just as they begin to wonder what it is, the notorious Risky Boots crashes the expo and steals the lamp. Despite the quick battle, Shantae is knocked out, allowing the vengeful pirate to get away. Blaming the half-genie for the town being in disarray and failing to do her job properly, the Mayor of Scuttle Town fires her as the town’s guardian.

Despite no longer being a Guardian Genie, Shantae still decides to take responsibility to stop Risky Boots’ newest plot. Is there more to this mysterious lamp than one expects? And what does the evil pirate intend to do with it?”

The game is actually a sequel to a Game Boy Color cart, Shantae and the experience and talent of WayForward Technologies really is on display here. I usually write off most games found in the Nintendo eShop because they tend to be quick ports or extended demos that you’re paying full price for but after all of the hype surrounding this game I had to check it out.

The obvious praise is centered around the visual elements as they’ve painstakingly crafted large, sprite-based side-scrolling platform levels with impressive backgrounds and smooth, clean animations. The level of detail found throughout the game is ridiculous, if you have time to stop and admire it. With nods to Castlevania and Mega Man, the gameplay is strong, with responsive controls and a challenge that isn’t too difficult but also isn’t a cakewalk. Along the way you earn various power-ups that let you transform into various animals to progress past certain areas, a monkey to climb walls, an elephant to smash boulders or a mermaid to get past water levels. You also obtain gems throughout the game that help you upgrade your attacks and abilities.

The one problem I have with this game is the map which is pretty much worthless. I did a lot of backtracking in the game and it only provides a high level overview of a stage, nothing specific, especially not the dungeons. I probably wasted a good hour trying to find my way around the Tangled Forest.

It’s one of the most expensive titles in the shop but it’s well worth the price of admission. SRR is a massive, throwback title that takes all the best elements of 16-bit classics and combines it into one complete package. Cop it, son.