With the 20th anniversary of the first Shantae game’s release, I was able to grab some of the games on sale. So here I am ready to review the 3rd entry in the series.
Set after the events of Risky’s Revenge (so spoiler warning) Shantae has lost all her powers due to the events of that game ( I’ve heard originally that game was going to be episodic and so that plot point would probably have been handled in the second episode, but fortunately for everything this episodic games died very quickly). Our mostly now human protagonist however doesn’t have too much time to mull over that detail as Ammo Baron is attacking the town. After that is “dealt” with Risky captures Shantae in a bathtub demanding Shantae releases her crew and give back all her weapons. Not knowing what Risky is talking about she’s taken to her uncle’s warship where indeed there is a Tinkerbat held in a glass case. But once it is freed it suddenly turns into a dark bat-like creature and attacks. After being defeated strange dark magic floats about, given a magic lamp by Risky, Shantae sucks up the dark magic.
Ok so explanations are given. Because of the lack of Shantae’s light genie magic, the dark Pirate Master, Risky’s old boss, has started to become free after he had been imprisoned by the genies (an act which is also the reason the genies themselves are currently gone). So Shantae has to go around the seas defeating the evil in several dens that are feeding him to prevent his return. At the same time find all the crackle bats and recover all the dark magic.
The game has you go around the several islands around Sequin Land as opposed to the just one shared big map of the previous games. Each has their own items to find. Risky’s pirate tools being found in the evil dens which give Shantae new abilities since she lacks her iconic transformations in this game. These range from a gun which can hit targets from a distance all the way to using a cannon to gain additional jumps.
The two big collectables are the heart squids used to increase your max HP and the crackle bats with the dark magic. Many are unobtainable when you first go to one of the islands until you get the necessary item from a den of evil. Fortunately, the game on the island select screen tells you if how many cracklebats or heart squids are still to be found on that island.
The game does a good job of dealing with any lingering plot threads left from Risky’s Revenge and brings back all the characters from it as well as adding a few new ones. Given the state some of the characters were in at the end of that game its very good to see Rottytops and Shantae’s relationship repaired.
Since the game is set over several islands instead of one big map you’re less prone to getting lost and there were only 3 items that really made me go how I was meant to find those normally, namely 2 cracklebats that are only revealed by running into a wall and one squid that was hidden behind a block when all others were visible and it was only this one not.
The game even openly tells you get different rewards for completing it in certain ways, so if you beat the game below 100%, beat it under a set time or 100% under a set time, will give rewards at the end. Once you do complete it you unlock Pirate mode giving you access to all Risky’s items at the start making speed runs much easier as no need to backtrack for items you couldn’t get when first visiting an island.
With the story giving a good end for all the cast (except Ammo Baron but he’s a bad guy) and great controls (the last dungeon really puts your reactions to the test before the final boss) this is widely seen as Shantae’s best game in the franchise and well worth your time. The only downside is so much of the plot is involved with the events of the previous game which is just not as good in many ways.