WayForward set up shop at XSEED Games/Marvelous USA’s E3 booth to advertise the upcoming release of Shantae: Half-Genie Hero, giving us a chance to play through a demo prepared specifically for the show. For players not familiar with the series, Shantae: Half-Genie Hero is an action-platformer that plays very similarly to a Castlevania title. Unlike most of the other titles in the franchise, however, Half-Genie Hero is decidedly more linear, with a level system not unlike WayForward’s own Ducktales: Remastered. Additionally, Shantae: Half-Genie Hero seems to share the same engine and aesthetic with that title.
As for the gameplay, the demo that we played had Shantae traversing through a town during a pirate attack, fending off pirate-themed enemies, ending with a boss fight with a character abbreviated as “P.O.O.P T.O.O.T (don’t call him that).” Shantae has standard platforming abilities—she can jump, she can crawl, she can grab on to chains/vines and use them to climb. Her main means of attacking enemies is to use her giant head of hair as a whip, with a little bit of genie magic such as fireballs to round her skills out. In addition to her Half-Genie skills, Shantae is also able to belly-dance into a variety of different adorable animal forms, each with their own unique controls.
Overall, the game was pretty full of charm; it wasn’t the most mind-blowing game I played, nor did it need to be. Each character’s animations were adorably fluid, gameplay was simple enough with a few twists. The boss battle with P.O.O.P T.O.O.T at the end of the demo managed to be interesting, as well as not overstay it’s welcome. Ringing a bell to load a barrel of TNT and then climbing up to knock it out towards the boss made use of most of the demo’s challenges—climbing, platforming, and timing attacks. I can definitely see how WayForward is trying to bring in new players.
The title was originally kickstarted around the same time as Mighty No. 9 and is releasing later this fall. A WayForward representative wasn’t able to name a specific date, though the title is scheduled to release both digitally and physically at the same time on PlayStation 4, Wii U, and PlayStation Vita. The Xbox One release will remain digital only, with PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 releases possibly coming at a later date. Physical copies of the title will come with a music CD containing a variety of tracks from the game, in a special “Risky Beats” package.
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