You ever thought that your Castlevania games should have brighter colours, bite-sized levels that aren’t just gothic castles, and a ditzy ex-genie of a main protagonist who, along with her friends, likes to wear revealing clothes? It’s an oddly specific list of requests, but Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse might be cut out for the job.
Thrust into the shoes of Shantae, the aforementioned ex-genie, you’ve set sail on the seven seas to stop the resurrection of the evil Pirate King, forming a temporary alliance with a sworn enemy to accomplish this. It’s a storyline that encompasses elements and characters of the previous games, and considering that this is the first time Shantae has appeared on Xbox, it might not mean a lot to most people.
Luckily, the gameplay mechanics are simple and intuitive enough to hold your attention long after you’ve forgotten who is rescuing or stopping who for whatever reason. Playing like a simplistic Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, complete with replacement hair whip, you’ll explore dungeons, solve puzzles and do a whole heap of backtracking.
Abilities gained in new areas reveal some secrets in previous areas, and usually some level of backtracking is mandatory to the puzzles. Solutions to a puzzle on one island might only be found on a previous one, which can be annoying when you don’t know what the hell you’re meant to be doing.
It’s old school gaming through and through. Go to a themed level, find a way into the dungeon, solve some puzzles and fight the boss. Lather, rinse and repeat. And that’s totally fine, because Shantae offers some fine action platforming action with a range of discoverable abilities to use on a variety of enemies.
However, there are some sections that feel like filler; just there to pad out the run-time. Midway through the game, there’s a forced stealth-ish section where you have to rescue some allies, and it just feels out of place. Sure, the section leads to an admittedly hilarious punchline about a princess, but the whole thing just feels like an extra 20 minutes that could have been left on the cutting room floor, so to speak.
But apart from that, there’s nothing really to complain about with the package on offer here. Whilst it doesn’t bring anything new to the genre, Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse does its job very well indeed. With multiple endings depending upon your level of completion (finding all the treasures), there’s plenty to sink your teeth into here.
Check out our gameplay video below, and let us know in the comments below whether or not you agree with our review!
Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse is available from the Xbox Store, priced £15.99.
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A fun, old-school platformer.
Hardly groundbreaking, but that’s not the point. Shantae is a call back to the classic platforming games, with new areas and abilities revealing themselves at a regular pace. Some sections feel a tad unnecessary, but on the whole, Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse is a lot of fun.