Shantae is a critically acclaimed series of platformer games created by Matt Bozon and developed by WayForward, starring a half-genie named Shantae, who is Scuttle Town's Guardian Genie. The games follow Shantae's adventures across Sequin Land to keep Scuttle Town safe from evil, particularly her nemesis Risky Boots, the "lady pirate". The series currently consists of four titles, Shantae, Shantae: Risky's Revenge, Shantae and the Pirate's Curse and Shantae: Half-Genie Hero.
In 1994, Erin Bozon, then engaged future wife of Matt Bozon, came up with the idea of the main character while coming back from her camp counselor days. She named her "Shantae" after one of the campers. Matt Bozon liked the idea and fleshed out the character's universe.
Erin Bozon also imagined that the character could use dances to conjure animals or charm them. It formed the basis of the transformation dances.
At the time, Erin had very long hair and would often hit Matt in the face with her hair each time she turned around. This fact made Matt come up with the idea of the hair whip, Shantae's trademark attack.
The Shantae games are considered to have a gameplay similar to games from the Metroid and Castlevania series, which are referred to with the portmanteau name of "Metroidvania". "Metroidvania" games are defined as side-scrolling platformers in often large worlds with a non-linear progression, as some areas are first impassable and require the acquisition of new abilities or items to become accessible.
In the case of Shantae, it means for example turning into a monkey to climb up to high platforms and leap higher, but without the ability to attack enemies at first, into an elephant to smash boulders, turning into a harpy to take to the skies, or in the case of Shantae: Risky's Revenge, in a mermaid to go underwater. Some locations can also only be accessed with specific items.
The main attack of Shantae in all episodes is the hair whip, although additional attacks and offensive items can be purchased later in the first game. Additional magical attacks can be acquired in Risky's Revenge as well, although they work with a magic bar instead which needs to be refilled.
Risky's Revenge features multi-layered environments, where areas are stacked up behind one another, although they are only used in two locations of the game. This idea originated in the aborted Shantae Advance.
Outside of the main gameplay, the first Shantae also features three mini-games.
Games in the series
Although the original concept for Shantae originated in 1994, the first traces of development of the game date back from the second half of 1996. A 1997 archived version of WayForward's website shows early screenshots of the game, with very different graphics from the final version, although they are probably working mock-ups. These differences also stem from the fact that WayForward originally intended the game to be released on PC, PlayStation or similar systems. The game had different mechanics from the final released version, although the role of dances and animals was already present. The plot was different too, with Shantae being a magicless genie who is forced to fight magical creatures known as Jins who are draining the magic from the land to survive.
In the end, the game was further refined, the role of dances and animals simplified and merged to get the current gameplay. The story was deeply modified, to the released version of the half-genie Shantae trying to stop the lady pirate Risky Boots from using the Steam Engine to rule Sequin Land. Besides that, the graphics engine was revised to suit the Game Boy Color, but remained of an extremely high quality for the GBC standards. The game team encountered troubles to find a publisher, as they were always impressed by the game, but felt that creating a new IP was too risky and expensive. It was finally accepted by Capcom, but they withheld the game from release for eight months. By the time it was released, the Game Boy Advance was already in its first year, so WayForward chose to take back the game to alter it slightly for the new handheld, adding a transformation and a feature to brighten the colors up on the GBA, which was reputed to darken the GBC games played on it.
On release, the game received rave reviews but sold poorly, as it had been released on a dying system with little advertising. The game's low sales plagued future plans for a sequel for years, until the development of emulators which helped advertise the game. Remaining copies of the game are now sold for over $100 on ebay and similar sites, and the game has achieved cult status.
Despite the lack of initial success for the first game, WayForward believed enough in the franchise to start the development of a sequel, Shantae Advance, for the Game Boy Advance. Several features were completed, enough for the game to be playable, but the game was ultimately scrapped when WayForward failed to find a publisher for it. Another project, Shantae: Risky Waters in early 2004 for the Nintendo DS, met the same fate for the same reasons. The development of the DSiWare allowed WayForward to publish the game by themselves, and they therefore announced the game as a four episode download. However, the episodic idea was not very well received, and therefore, WayForward ditched this aspect and opted for a full release instead.
WayForward took elements from the aborted first sequel, such as the new Mermaid transformation and the multi-layered environments, but gave the graphics engine an overhaul to suit the Nintendo DS. The story of the game was modified from the GBA incarnation to the released one: Risky Boots comes to seek revenge on Shantae by stealing a recently found old lamp, which, if the three magic seals keeping its power under control were to be reunited, would entail a great darkness. Uncle Mimic tells the situation to Shantae, who goes on a quest to find the seals before her nemesis. The game was subsequently ported to the iOS as well, and then to Steam for Windows.
Upon release, the game was, like its predecessor, a smash critical success, with several reviewers calling it the best DSiWare game available. The critics praised the graphics and efficient gameplay, although acknowledging the "Metroidvania" influences, but admitting that the game had its own take on the genre, while the most common complaint was aimed at its poor map system. The iOS version also got strong reviews, although a little lower overall. The game met better commercial success than the first and developed its own cult following as well.
The mechanics of the game are slightly different from the previous installments, as Shantae has lost her magic powers and has to rely on special Pirate Gear to complete her quest, such has a pistol, a scimitar, a cannon and so on. The story picks up a little while after the end of the previous installment, while Shantae is still adjusting to her life without magic powers, she is visited by Risky Boots. The nefarious pirate tells her that her minions, the Tinkerbats, have been infected by Shantae's magic and have grown new powers, overthrowing Risky in the process and planning to resurrect her former mentor, the Pirate Master, who might enslave the entirety of Sequin Land. Risky requires Shantae's help to recover the shards of Shantae's magic, in order to restore her power, Shantae's magic, and prevent the return of the Pirate Master.
WayForward announced in early september 2013 that a fourth game was already planned, this time for the Wii U, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Xbox 360, Xbox One and Microsoft Windows through Steam. The game was to be funded through a Kickstarter campaign with a minimum objective of $400,000, although several additional stretch goals were also programmed. The campaign ended a month later with more than twice the objective, unlocking four stretch goals, and one more was met via PayPal funding. Funding closed definitely on December 16, 2014.
The game was expected to return to the classic gameplay of the first two installments, Shantae having apparently regained her former powers. The story features Shantae being awakened one night and attracted to Scuttle Town, below which she discovers a mysterious cavern sheltering a beautiful fountain. Upon touching it, she is spirited away to the Genie Realm, where she contemplates a powerful evil being suddenly released from a magic seal. She then wakes up again, in her bed, unsure of whether what she saw was a dream, a prophecy, or something else. The story would take place after the three first games, but would also reintroduce all the characters, as WayForward was hoping to reach a new audience.
WayForward announced on May 25, 2019 that a fifth game was already in development, showing a teaser trailer of Shantae and a Number 5 hairstyle on her iconic ponytail. On August 14, Wayforward made a second announcement giving the official name: Shantae and the Seven Sirens.
The game is expected to return once again using a similar system to Half genie hero. Shantae will be having some new magical transformational abilities and with the introduction of a new mechanic, "Magic Fusion" and the introduction of a collectible card system that grants players to augmentate Shantae’s powers.
The story is teased to feature of Shantae and her friends encounter other Half-Genie allies on a mysterious tropical island, but will soon learn that trouble has arisen within the luscious paradise.
For the launch of the game WarioWare D.I.Y., Nintendo asked several names in the industry to provide microgames for it. Matt Bozon designed Shantae NAB!. It features Shantae in her monkey form who must catch a gem before time runs out, so Shantae becomes human again and does a bellydance.
WayForward produced the first game for Apple's new device, the Apple Watch, titled Watch Quest!. The puzzle-adventure game features characters from the series, but in alternate versions.
After the commercial failure of the first game, WayForward chose to continue work on the franchise and started the development of a sequel tentatively called Shantae Advance or Shantae 2: Risky Revolution. However, the lack of commercial success of the first installment deterred the eventual publishers from taking it, and as such the development of the game was cancelled.
The game would have featured a similar gameplay to the first installment, with new features, such as a multi-layered environment, swimming, new transformations including the crab and the mermaid, or a world map to fly through on the back of Shantae's friend Sky's pet war bird, Wrench, who would have grown several times his size for unknown reasons. The game would have featured a much larger in-game universe, and the story involved Risky Boots and her Tinkerbats planting a pillar in the middle of Sequin Land, to make it rotate around at will, for unknown purposes.
Shantae: Risky Waters
In early 2004, after Nintendo announced the Nintendo DS dual-screen feature, WayForward began work on a new attempt at a Shantae sequel tentatively titled Shantae: Risky Waters, producing a 13-page draft on the subject. The game featured an experimental gameplay, for instance rafting in 3D on the upper screen while controlling a bird flying over the river, in 2D, on the lower screen; or characters fighting on the upper screen while digging caves on the lower one. However, the game was cancelled for the same reasons as Shantae Advance, as WayForward did not find a publisher for it.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 http://telebunny.net/toastywiki/index.php/Games/Shantae
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 http://www.girlgamer.com/zine/article/2985/
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 3.8 http://www.ign.com/articles/2002/06/11/shantae
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 http://www.vgmuseum.com/mrp/multi/Essays/essay-squalidpumpkin5.htm
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 5.7 5.8 http://gamercheeese.com/2012/11/07/shantae-is-coming-an-in-depth-look-at-where-shes-been/
- ↑ http://www.joystiq.com/2009/08/20/these-metroidvania-games-are-neither-metroid-nor-vania/
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 http://www.ign.com/articles/2010/10/01/shantae-riskys-revenge-review
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 http://www.destructoid.com/review-shantae-risky-s-revenge-185868.phtml
- ↑ http://www.jeuxvideo.com/articles/0001/00014339-shantae-risky-s-revenge-test.htm#test
- ↑ 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 http://www.twitch.tv/wayforwardtv/b/467113071
- ↑ 11.0 11.1 http://www.gonintendo.com/?mode=viewstory&id=115657
- ↑ 12.0 12.1 http://web.archive.org/web/19970410130926/http://www.wayforward.com/Shantae.htm
- ↑ http://www.destructoid.com/wayforward-to-bring-shantae-to-nintendo-3ds-in-june-252671.phtml
- ↑ 14.0 14.1 http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1567550/flop-that-inspired-2007s-biggest-ds-games.jhtml
- ↑ http://gonintendo.com/?p=137247
- ↑ 16.0 16.1 http://www.gamesradar.com/shantae-riskys-revenge-review/
- ↑ http://www.appspy.com/review/5168/shantae-riskys-revenge-review
- ↑ https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1236620800/shantae-half-genie-hero/posts/913919
- ↑ http://www.gamerankings.com/ds/974895-shantae-riskys-revenge/index.html
- ↑ http://www.metacritic.com/game/ds/shantae-riskys-revenge
- ↑ http://www.ign.com/articles/2010/10/01/shantae-riskys-revenge-review
- ↑ http://www.gamerankings.com/iphone/648247-shantae-riskys-revenge/index.html
- ↑ http://www.metacritic.com/game/ios/shantae-riskys-revenge
- ↑ http://www.nintendojo.com/news/news-desk-shantae-returns-this-summer-on-3ds-virtual-console
- ↑ http://www.destructoid.com/shantae-and-the-pirate-s-curse-coming-to-3ds-eshop-238117.phtml
- ↑ http://www.nintendolife.com/news/2014/06/exclusive_shantae_and_the_pirates_curse_is_also_coming_to_wii_u
- ↑ http://nintendopower.com/images/NP284_Shantae.jpg
- ↑ http://www.ign.com/articles/2013/09/04/wayforward-launches-kickstarter-for-shantae-half-genie-hero
- ↑ http://www.ign.com/articles/2013/10/04/shantae-half-genie-hero-kickstarter-closes-with-twice-its-goal
- ↑ 30.0 30.1 https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1236620800/shantae-half-genie-hero
- ↑ http://nintendocharged.com/2013/10/02/exclusive-interview-w-matt-bozon-wayforward/
- ↑ http://riskysrevenge.shantae.com/2010/08/shantae-meets-wario.html
- ↑ Hyper Light Drifter Kickstarter, [Goals Smashed, WayForward Cross-over!]