Shantae Half-Genie Hero Review

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It’s time to take a look at another one of the Christmas games. Shantae was definitely a lot of fun to play through and it’s an indie game done right. It’s not super long or anything since it’s a game that is made to be speed runned, but it’s still long enough for you to feel like you got your money’s worth. The level designs are all on point and the game just looks and sounds good in general. I can also finally say that I’ve played a game in the Shantae series!

Shantae was trying to enjoy her beauty sleep when the village has need of her services once again. As a half-genie hero, Shantae protects a village and in exchange they pay her or at least give her a place to live. Unfortunately, the mayor has a habit of firing her. The village is attacked by all sorts of villains, including Risky Boots. Shantae will have to take them all down and save the genie realm, but can she do it?

The game has a nice retro feel to it as the game uses sprites the whole time. The levels are all pretty bright and cheerful. Even the villain levels and burning remains are still bright enough for you to see where you’re going at all times and breeze through. The game has that simple fun factor that the Mario and Sonic titles of the past possessed. It’s something that some games tend to lack nowadays with their artificial length and unnecessary quests. This one had a few riddles that needed to be deciphered, but they weren’t anything too crazy. I found them all in a reasonable amount of time.

Ironically, I managed to find most of the bonus collectibles in the mean time. By the time I was able to get to the next story level, I was very overpowered. I had a large heart collection by then and a lot of power ups that made the rest of the game a breeze. Naturally, all of these collectibles help the replay value section. The main game should take around 5 hours or so, but in order to get the Platinum Trophy, you’ll need to play the game again and complete it in a mere 4 hours. Certainly doable, but it’ll take some practice and a nice plan in mind. This is a game where I actually do plan on getting all of the trophies sooner than later so stay tuned for that. I’ve already got 72% of the trophies and more are on the way.

The music selection in the game was certainly enjoyable. The song that played during the first level was definitely a lot of fun and so was the boss theme and the burning cafe. They helped make the game more exciting for sure. This game definitely really succeeded on a technical level as well as when it comes to the pure gameplay. The creators definitely put a lot of heart into it and I can see why the kick starter people would feel good about their contributions.

As for the gameplay, it starts out like a classic Mario game, but with her hair acting as a sword of sorts. As you play through the game, you’ll get gradually stronger to the point where the old levels will suddenly be a piece of cake. You’ll learn how to fly, swim underwater, grab onto ceilings, and also multiply your attack power and speed by 4x. It’s fun to see the contrast to the start as you really begin to breeze through all of the levels. It’s hard to believe just what a difference the power ups make, but they are well worth it.

As mentioned before, the level designs are really good, which help to further make the gameplay shine. The only part of one level that seemed a little overly difficult was the Flappy Bird homage in part 3 of the last level. Luckily, you can cheese it out by falling on the very left of the final spike platform and then turning into a Bat. I somehow think that this wasn’t intentional, but we certainly take those. Anything goes when it’s time to complete the game right?

Shantae makes for a good main character. She reminds me a lot of Lina Inverse from Slayers, but less obsessed with money and riches. Shantae’s just a noble hero who tries to do the right thing and save the day. She even takes time out of her day to chat with the villains when they’re not busy trying to rule the world or resurrect old pals from the previous games. There are a lot of references to the older games, but it’s certainly not necessary to purchase them to understand what’s going on. You’ll be able to get into the game rather easily. Shantae’s grandfather and two friends aren’t that charismatic so I don’t mind that they got a rather small role. This is one of those games that really leans on Shantae as she has the most personality by far.

Risky Boots does the same for the villains. She seems to be the only villain who is totally evil and doesn’t have time for niceties or cracking jokes like the others. Her plan was actually pretty intense and if you get the bad ending, she does succeed in destroying quite a few people. Naturally, I went for the bad ending since the good one needed me to grab more collectibles. I’ll probably see that one when I attempt the speed run at some point. If not, well..I can probably tell what will change anyway, but you’ll just need to find out for yourself.

The sheer fun factor of the game ends up putting it ahead of Shovel Knight and Mighty No 9. There is a lot of backtracking here and helping people out with side quests, but they were all fun to play through. The levels are also short enough where it isn’t a bother to go back and forth as you look for collectibles. It’s just a very well made game and if I were to have any complaints, it would be that you can’t skip the credits, but I suppose that’s cool for the people who pledged to this project.

Overall, Shantae Half-Genie Hero is definitely a good PS4 game and I’d recommend picking it up. It’s certainly not the longest game on the block, but it’s long enough and has a good amount of replay value. If we do end up getting some free DLC for it soon, that’ll be even cooler, but there’s enough base content to make it all worthwhile. Sprites also work perfectly for the game since otherwise the dancing and attires could be a bit much in this desert land, but sprites make everything 20% better. Hopefully this game did really well so we can get a sequel at some point. Of course, if Shantae is added into the Switch version of Smash, then she’ll have enough publicity to last a life time!

Overall 8/10

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Aladdin Review

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It’s time for a classic film review. This title is basically the opposite of TMNT in many ways. Aladdin is a heartwarming story about a man who must risk life and limb to stop the evil plots of those who would harm the kingdom and Princess Jasmine. His name is Aladdin and he has become a very iconic figure in Disney history. Does this film deserve to be called a classic? Let’s see!

Whoops, did I already spoil the plot? Well, that was a rather vague version of it anyway. Princess Jasmine is to be married to a rich prince as per the Kingdom rules, but she doesn’t like any of them. One day, she escapes to the outside world and meets up with Aladdin. They are soon separated and now they know that they are meant to team up as they try to get back together. Unfortunately, Jafar intends to stop this since he wants the crown for himself. Whoever gets the magical lamp to summon the Genie may end up having a great advantage over the other!

Aladdin is the main lead of the film, but the title probably gave that away. He’s essentially what you would expect for the main character. He likes to defy the authorities and he steals food from the shop owners whenever he can. He talks a really good game (Like 99% of the current film protagonists) and then proceeds to get crushed by the weakest of minions. “You’re only in trouble if you get caught” is one of his most wince worthy moments since he gets caught immediately after saying this. Haven’t we seen enough characters who talk their way to the finish line only to be defeated instantly in combat? I can’t say that it’s very entertaining. Aladdin is also one of those guys who immediately falls in love at the drop of a hat and it hurts his overall character arc. He tends to hesitate a lot, which makes him fall short when the stakes are at their highest. He also tries to lie his way through situations and the fame of being a prince gets to him. He just fell into so many character holes throughout the film that I can’t say that Aladdin is one of the better main characters. He could have been good, but he was a little too generic and not someone that I could really root for.

Jasmine is a pretty decent character and it’s easy to sympathize with her plight. An arranged marriage is like a surprise dinner from your worst nightmares. Nothing will turn out as you’ve always pictured and things will just keep going downhill forever. I don’t know why the Sultan won’t just rewrite the rule, but maybe he doesn’t know that he can actually do that. Jasmine’s pet tiger is pretty intense as well and we can thank him for all of the assistance that he gave Jasmine. Unfortunately, Jasmine goes too far with her plan to distract Jafar and she just should have tackled him or grabbed the staff. It would have been a better way to stop him without degrading herself. It’s no exaggeration to say that the scene did hurt the film’s overall rating. Jasmine was a decent character, but the onslaught of romance scenes threw her down a few pegs.

Jafar is definitely a pretty weak villain. He’s just another guy who wants power and romance as he ascends to the top of the food chain. He wants to become the Sultan as quickly as powerful and he sends in his underlings to do the dirty work for him. When it comes down to a fight, Jafar must rely on his staff since he’s really not a fighter. He does get a big moment at the end of the film, but he spoils it since he didn’t think it through. He should have just protected the lamp from being touched..but he was not yet fast enough. Even without the romance, I wasn’t a fan of Jafar, but it certainly didn’t help his case. Iago was a better villain!

Iago is one of the more sinister creatures in the film since he’ll do anything for money and power. He definitely talks big and he doesn’t really back down from anyone. He’s one of those character’s who’s literally all bark and no bite, but that’s just how his character is. His personality may not be as enjoyable if he was a tough fighter, but that’s up for debate I suppose. It’s hard to see how he could turn over a new leaf, but he does know where the money and power now reside….

Abu is Aladdin’s pet monkey and he’s not one of the biggest supporting characters in the film. He has his moments though and he is probably a decent character for some. I don’t really care for him myself, but he keeps things real. He’s a decent fighter and he always goes all out although he is not quite as nice as Aladdin. He reluctantly parts with his piece of bread and he is pretty sad about the whole thing. I may like him more in the sequel…maybe.

The Sultan is one of the main sources of comic relief for the film. He only wants what’s best for Jasmine, but his thirst for fame and glory blind him to this and he tries for her to get married as quickly as possible. He lacks strength of character so he is easily manipulated by Jafar. It’s too bad for him because the Sultan is still a decent character…or he has the potential to be decent. He plays with his toys during his free time and he can talk a pretty good game. Unfortunately, it is often too little too late and I can’t really forget how he was tricked so many times. He’s charismatic, but you begin to dislike him when you realize how bad some of his decisions are.

Genie is one of the most popular characters of the Aladdin franchise and he’s definitely unforgettable. He basically has unlimited power so he doesn’t need to fear anyone. He gets tricked a few times by Aladdin, but he learns as he goes. Genie doesn’t like to be double crossed and he doesn’t really care too much for being a genie, but he puts on a tough face and endures it. He’s definitely one of the most likable characters in the film and he’s always ready with some good advice for Aladdin. He doesn’t possess a lot of “strength of character” since the lamp is always able to override what he really wants to do. Luckily, that shouldn’t be a problem for him in future appearances.

The animation isn’t bad for this film. I definitely miss the good ole hand drawn days of Disney and this one reminds you why it can be so special. It reminds me of those computer games that were all the rage back in the day. The animation is rather similar. I do think that America was significantly behind Japan at the time in animation, which explains why Transformers and Gundam look better than Aladdin. For what it is, Aladdin still looks good though and you can easily follow what is happening. There aren’t any obvious animation errors. (Although his bread almost appeared to have chocolate in it at some points) All of the character designs quickly became iconic after this film.

There are several songs in this film, but it’s not overdone like in High School Musical. My main complaint would be the fact that it’s really hard to follow the lyrics. The sound effects are too loud during the chase scene so some of Aladdin’s lines can’t really be heard and you’ll get lost midway through the song. The voices were pretty good and the songs were decent, but this isn’t the next “Everything is Awesome” or “Let it Go.” (Although I already forgot the latter one. I need to give that song a listen too….someday) So, the songs didn’t really bother me in this film since the villains didn’t play a major part in it. Nothing’s worse than seeing the villain get a few songs to himself to remind us just how sinister he is!

Unfortunately, there was one extremely wince worthy romance scene that derailed the film faster than a dog will snatch away your bacon from the table. It’s the kind of scene that can really shave a few points off of anything even if it is fairly brief. It’s just something that I don’t want to see in my entertainment and I was surprised that this was in a Disney film. Jasmine decides to distract Jafar with her fake words while Aladdin went for the Lamp. That’s already pretty terrible in itself, but I didn’t expect it to get worse. Unfortunately, words are not enough so Jasmine takes the next step, but it’s a step that should never be taken. There were a lot of other alternatives for Jasmine at the moment and she should have just tackled the villain.

This makes Aladdin look bad as well for two reasons. One, he kept on hesitating and stopping, which made things worse for Jasmine. He ultimately fails in his quest to grab the lamp as well so it was basically all for nothing. The second reason would be the fact that Aladdin allowed this to happen as well. I’d expect some “Brooklyn Rage” (Abridged term) from him and a solid punch. Aladdin could likely beat Jafar in a fist fight and he would just need to prevent Jafar from ordering the Genie to help. That really wouldn’t be too hard for him and then Jasmine could grab the lamp. So, what I’m saying is that drastic measures, which involve degrading yourself to stall the villain is basically a no no. The scene shouldn’t have happened and the fact that Aladdin still failed was pretty awful.

Aside from that scene, the film also does have a lot of romance stuff in it. That’s not typically a good thing and I wouldn’t say that it’s handled all that well here either. The flirting can be pretty irritating after a while and it’s even worse if you don’t care for the two main characters that much. Romance typically doesn’t have a place in any film and this one overdoes it.

At least Aladdin has no trouble with its pacing. A lot of events happen in the short runtime of the film and the plot changes from one scene to the next. Most of the characters got their necessary development and the villain had time for two different plans! Unfortunately, I still didn’t end up liking the characters all that much, but Disney tried. At least I did like (some of) the animal characters in this film. The tiger was hardcore and the birds were also cool. There aren’t many action scenes in the film, but they’re fairly good and the danger scenes inside of the cave of wonders are also well done. The film definitely had a lot of potential.

Overall, Aladdin is definitely one of Disney’s most well known films, but it’s definitely no all star. Frozen would wipe the floor with this film and Aladdin just hasn’t aged all that well. It should be noted that I’ve never been a fan of desert films as it is. (Although that wasn’t really a negative in this film) Aladdin can be a fun watch for the family, but there are just too many scenes that aren’t funny or enjoyable. The critical scene that I mentioned earlier is ultimately what destroyed the film for me. Of course, there were also several other romance scenes that were pretty bad. If you really don’t mind romance and are just happy to see the heroes come out on top no matter how they got there…then you may enjoy this film. Still, if you want to watch a fun animated film, I’d recommend checking out Megaman NT Warrior The Program of Light and Darkness! You won’t be disappointed as that one features the greatest character of all time and some epic action!

Overall 4/10