Review – Shantae (Switch) –

Many know that the Shantae franchise began as a game released for the Game Boy Color at the end of its popularity on the market, but few people played it at the time. The legal Shantae cartridge has become one of the most sought after retro gaming treasures. Knowing that their franchise is pretty well established these days, WayForward has finally decided to port/remaster the original Game Boy game for the Switch. Now you can finally own the legal version without having to resort to emulation.

Shantae manages to have large and detailed character models even on the limited GBC hardware.

This version of Shantae is almost an extended emulation of the original ROM. Nothing new has been added in the source code, but typical improvements can be seen in other retro collections such as screensavers and various screen reports. The developers also have a version that runs on the original Game Boy Color hardware and an enhanced version that comes with the original GBC cartridge, which uses the specifications of the GBA to offer slightly improved graphics.

It doesn’t matter. I don’t think Shantae deserves a remake anyway. Of course, this is a GBC game, which means it’s very limited in size, scope, and gameplay. But this is the perfect opportunity to play an underrated gem that has some quality of life benefits. Also, I doubt Nintendo will ever make the Game Boy service available like they did with the NES and SNES libraries.

The way the game performs at night or in the shadows is downright impressive considering the material.

Well, then to the game itself. Shantae is a traditional 2D platformer with small Metroid elements and an open level structure. Gameplay consists of going from town to town, talking to people, collecting items, then participating in challenging platforming sections and occasionally exploring a dungeon. In some ways, this game reminds me a bit of Zelda II: On the left side is adventure, especially when exploring said dungeons. The game is much larger by Game Boy Color standards and also always lets you explore other areas. Sure, you’ll probably die in one or two hits, but you can explore independently.

Jake Kaufman composed the soundtrack for Shante, and as expected, it’s excellent. I’ve been humming some songs from the game the past few days. What he accomplished with such a limited soundcheck is just impressive.

She swishes her hair back and forth.

The scope and structure of free-roaming isn’t the only thing that impressed me while playing Shantae. This game is great, even by today’s standards. Shantae’s sprite is beautifully animated, and each level is detailed and varied. There are even some clever effects, like Shantae’s sprite getting darker at night or when she walks in the shadows. WayForward has used some clever tricks to make their game much better than the average GBC game. Unfortunately, the small screen size and large sprites of the characters force you to jump around occasionally, but platforming puzzles are rare. Research is the name of the game.

While Shantae is an impressive game by GBC standards, that doesn’t mean it’s not outdated. This is evident when you analyze the gameplay. Sure, the level design and progression system are excellent, but Shantae’s controls are odd to say the least. His movements are a bit shaky, the collision detection is buggy, and the range of his basic attack, the whip, seems completely random. Sometimes your attacks will seem to hit an enemy far away from you, while some attacks won’t, even if they have almost the same pixels as your character. Can you get used to it? Yes, but that doesn’t mean you don’t die often because of Shante’s questionable game decisions.

Don’t worry. Later, things get exponentially more complicated.

Some of Shantae’s gameplay and design decisions are outdated, but I’m pretty happy that WayForward decided to re-release the game exactly as it appeared 19 years ago. It’s still an impressive feat for the Game Boy Color, both in terms of graphics and level design, and it’s still fun to play on the Switch in 2021. Not to mention that you don’t have to spend four figures to finally own one in perfect condition!

Shantae looks absolutely stunning for a Game Boy Color game, and it still looks great on the Switch’s screen. Between the hesitant movements and collision detection, Shante’s gameplay seems pretty dated. That doesn’t mean you can’t endure some of his problems, but it does mean you will die because of some of his questionable decisions.
Jake Kaufman did the job with such a limited sound check. Many of the tunes in the soundtrack will stick with you long after the game is over. Some of his questionable decisions don’t hold up, but Shantae is still worth a look. That’s mostly because it was a revolutionary, hardware-driven game for a game released on the Game Boy Color.
Last block : 7.5

Shantae is available now on the Switch and Game Boy Color. But good luck finding a copy of this game for a reasonable price.

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The copy of Shantae was provided by the publisher.

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