8 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Shantae Half-Genie Hero Review

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

7 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Shovel Knight Review

I haven’t played a whole lot of indie games over the years. Typically, most of them don’t get a physical release, which essentially means Game Over as I don’t step into the digital realm very often. Shovel Knight certainly got very popular though so it’s not too surprising that it got such a wide release. For a while there, people were completely convinced that he was going to be playable in Super Smash Bros. That may not have ultimately happened, but it did help his popularity soar to even greater heights. The game is fun and it’s a call back to the classic Mega Man games from the good ole days. Those were always a lot of fun and ditto for Shovel Knight. There’s quite a lot of replay value contained within to back up the short story.

You play as a Knight who wields a shovel and whose teammate was seemingly destroyed. He decided to retire to a land of peace for a while, but eventually realizes that it’s time to avenge Shield Knight. Shovel Knight sets out, but the rest of the Knights from the round table intend to stop him along with the mysterious Black Knight. Will Shovel Knight’s determination be enough for him to vanquish all of his foes or will he ultimately have to use a tactical retreat?

Shovel Knight is a hero through and through so he doesn’t destroy the opponents that he defeats. On the contrary, he simply lets them think about their follies while on the ground and he moves onto the next area. Towards the end, he’s had just about enough of his “friends” and leaves them hanging from a castle. They eventually get up, but Shovel Knight couldn’t be bothered to stop and help. These guys are rather ungrateful and not reasonable so you can understand why Shovel Knight decided to use the extra minutes to stop the villain. The Knights can take care of themselves.

Let’s talk more about the gameplay. Instead of a Mega Buster, you’ve got a Shovel that you can whack opponents with. As you progress through the game, you’ll get magic spells like a fire blast or a super punch. You can also upgrade the shovel so that it can fire mini shockwaves and power slashes by holding the slash button. Watch out for enemy attacks though because like the old Mega Man games they will put you in hit stun for a while and during that time you are certainly very vurlable to pits. I died quite a few times that way. You can also obtain different armors and each one has strengths and weaknesses so you have to decide which one to ultimately use. I decided to use the economically friendly one to save on gold. When you die, you drop gold and that gold can really come in handy.

It should be noted that you can’t really die here. When you die, you’re taken to the last check point and you can seemingly keep trying until you eventually succeed. That did come in handy at the end of the game since I lost to the final form of the final boss and beating the first form again would have been a little iffy. It’s not a super long boss like some of the other games that I’ve played over the years, but saving some time and just throwing me back into the final form is definitely great. Not being able to really die can be an issue for some, but you do lose gold so there are still some consequences and the game isn’t super easy or anything like that. I expect you to definitely die a few times during your initial play through. Probably more than just “a few” times as well.

The graphics are solid. The game did a fine job of emulating the retro games as you can see above. The character designs are solid and the models look clear in the game. Black Knight is definitely the most interesting character visually although the final boss looks epic as well. I’d also give a nice thumbs up to the soundtrack for going the extra mile here. There were many themes present in the game and each one was suitable for the stages and the combat. Each theme was quick and you know how I don’t care for soft/quiet songs quite as much.

The ending would definitely have been super tragic if not for the after credits scene so make sure that you stick around for it. I’d say that it’s definitely a good thing that they added it since the first ending was unexpected, but also just a little sad for both of the Knights. That would have been a pretty big failure for them. Still, it didn’t happen so they did good. I would have liked to have seen some more of the “wanderers” though. The characters seemed pretty neat. They were all fairly mysterious and we only have a vague sense of their ambitions and goals. At the very least, we know that they are all good fighters.

There’s certainly already quite a bit of lore in the game. I don’t mind if they don’t end up exploring a lot of this, but those mystery characters need to return. After that, I guess we’ll need some new villains so I’m wondering who will show up. I’m assuming that we will probably get a sequel at some point and if the series is still going strong in a few years, Shovel Knight really could make his debut into the Super Smash universe.

This is one of those games that is very easy to quickly plug and play. You can get into the gameplay very easily and earning Gold is always a lot of fun since you have good things to spend it on. Of course, that won’t be a factor soon since I only have one armor left, but it was always a blast going for the jewels. As I mentioned earlier, there is a lot of replay value here. You’ll want to go back and get all of the music notes, which should take quite a long while. Talking to everyone in all of the villages will help you get trophies and naturally the Platinum in and of itself will take quite a long time. Some trophies are incredibly difficult like beating the game in under 90 minutes or beating it without dying. The company went all out for this Platinum and it’s definitely all but unachieveable for me. Eventually you could get all of the trophies, but it would take many hours.

Meanwhile, the game also brings the DLC pack along with it where you play as another Knight and do Story Mode again, but it’s decently changed from the first time around. The level designs have been altered and seeing everything from another perspective is interesting, but I would have liked something a bit more like adding in more items or something. I haven’t embarked on this DLC yet and will probably do it someday, but not in the near future. I beat the game in one nice long batch, but I imagine that doing it a second time would be a lot harder depending on how good or bad Plague Knight is.

Overall, I’d recommend giving Shovel Knight a purchase. If you enjoyed those old Nintendo classics or the Mega Man games, then this is right up your ally. The developers even went the extra mile and provided an actual plot through the word bubbles. You certainly didn’t see that in the oldest games from back in the day and it’s a good way of quickly using some modern elements without messing up the vibe of the title. With good graphics and a solid soundtrack as well, there are no real negatives to be found here. A mild issue could be that the game is a little on the short side, but as always, that does typically work out well for me. The game certainly doesn’t drag this way and most of the old games were very short like this one. Shield Knight still got a big team up with Shovel Knight to end it all and that was pretty climactic. The dream fights were also pretty intense. You better make that catch!

Overall 7/10