Shantae fans’ wishes have been granted! Risky Boots finally has her own game. Sort of. Shantae: Pirate Queen’s Quest is an expansion for Shantae: ½ Genie Hero. In this version, you play through ½GH from Risky Boots’ perspective. ½GH is available on XBO, PS4, Steam PC, Wii U, Vita, and Switch for $19.99. I got Pirate Queen’s Quest (for Wii U) a little early, since I backed the KickStarter, but it will be available for everyone else on August 29th for $9.99.
The original Shantae trilogy played a lot like Zelda II, Castlevania II, and the Wonderboy in Monster World games. They were Metroidvanias. ½ Genie Hero and Pirate Queen’s Quest are much more like Mega Man X. The levels are linear action platforming levels and you get new abilities after beating a boss. You also have to go back into the levels to find stuff after you get new abilities. That might sound a little bit like a Metroidvania, but it’s more like when you go back into the levels in Mega Man X to hunt for Heart and Sub Tanks, and the Light Capsule that gives you the Hadoken.
Pirate Queen’s Quest cuts out a lot of the filler that was in Shantae’s game. In ½GH, you played through a level, then went back to town and talked to people, and then went back to the levels, rinse and repeat. It felt like padding to make the game longer. There were way too many fetch quests and collectables for only having 5 main areas. Risky’s game doesn’t have a town, her home base is a bubble bath on her ship, so that cuts out all the talking to people, and every level is available from the start, so she doesn’t need to find maps to open them. Risky also starts out with more abilities and has less abilities to collect than Shantae, so you can get more collectables from each level in less playthroughs. The game ends up being shorter, but also a lot more fun.
The story in Pirate Queen’s Quest is Risky’s version of the story in ½ Genie Hero. You have to keep in mind that Risky is evil, though. Comically evil. She is self centered, vain, and obsessed with power and riches. She’s kind of like Wario, or Nami from One Piece meets Skeletor from Masters of the Universe. So, maybe she’s bending the truth a little bit. The story starts off with the scene in ½GH where Shantae and her friends have completed the Dynamo, and it turns out that Risky switched the plans for it, and they actually built the final boss of the game for her. Risky makes off with the Dynamo and hatches a plan to upgrade it and make the power of the Genies her own, but she needs 5 new parts first. She knows the Barons of Sequin Land will have them, so she sets off on a quest to beat the parts out of them. She’s also going to need 15 Genie Crystals, because we still need stuff to find in these levels.
This game uses the same levels as in Shantae’s version. Some levels have been remixed a bit and have different obstacles to make them better suited for playing with Risky’s powers, but the layouts are mostly the same. The biggest difference is in the enemy placement. Risky’s game has a lot more enemies and new trickier enemies. The game ends up feeling harder and more combat focused than Shantae’s game. The bosses are also reused, but are a little harder in this version. I felt like some had a lot more HP than in Shantae’s game.
Risky Boots’ movements feel a lot like Shantae’s in ½GH, but her abilities are more like Shantae in Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse. Risky uses a scimitar instead of whipping her hair, she uses a pistol instead of magic, and she can’t crawl or backdash, like Shantae, but she can slide like Mega Man. Risky can also summon Tinkerbats to fight for her for a few seconds. Some of the abilities Risky gets after beating a boss are straight out of Pirate’s Curse, but she also has a few new ones. She can get a pirate hat that lets her glide and a cannon she can use to double jump. Some of the new abilities include a grappling hook and a new bomb shot for her pistol, which she can break blocks with. All of her abilities, health, and damage, can be upgraded with pieces of Dark Magic hidden around the levels. Since Risky doesn’t have to dance and transform, like Shantae, she has all her abilities available at all times and this really speeds the pace of the game up.
The voice acting for Risky Boots is awesome. It’s all done by Cristina Vee, who is also the voice actress for Shantae and the singer in the game’s theme song, “Dance Through the Danger”. Risky sounds snobbish and has a teasing tone most of the time, but her rougher voice comes out when she gets angry. She has voice clips for when she gets items, uses abilities, and a lot of one liners during cutscenes. Her voice is the cherry on top of an already lovable villain.
I thought ½ Genie Hero was an OK game, but I had issues with all the fetch quests. Pirate Queen’s Quest fixes that and ends up being a much better game. Risky Boots is a fun character and long-time fans of the series will love playing a whole game of nothing but Risky. The game is also a bit harder and faster paced, so people who thought Shantae’s game was too slow and easy should be happy about that. It is a very short game (I got 100% in about 3:33), but it is an expansion. I think this is a must play for Shantae fans.