The pioneer of the Shantae series is ironically the last one to make the jump to the Nintendo Switch, but finally the saga is complete. Originally released on the Gameboy Color back in 2002, followed by an improved version on the Gameboy Advance the following year, this cult classic didn’t make it to Europe until 2013 when it was released digitally on the 3DS. Nearly 20 years since its inception, how does it hold up?
Shantae is a platform adventure game where you play as the running, jumping and hair-whipping Half Genie Hero herself, attempting to stop female pirate Risky Boots' evil plans. As the game progresses, Shantae is able to purchase additional combo moves and items to aid her mission. You can play in the original Gameboy Colur mode or the slightly nicer Gameboy Advance mode but disappointingly there’s no way to swap between the two once the game has started, so it’s unlikely anyone’s going to play more than the first minute of the one that they don’t decide to play through. Clearly the Gameboy Advance version is the better-looking of the two with its extra colours and detail. Also included are save states, which are always welcome in retro game remakes, and an art gallery which is actually pretty useful as it shows some of the game’s maps in full.
Instantly noticeable, if you’ve played other games in the series, is how small the screen area is on this one. It uses the GBC screen for detail, rather than line of sight. On the plus side, this means that it still looks great - Shantae was easily one the best-looking games on the system when it was released, and its big sprites and bold colours still look great today. But it does mean that some of the platforming isn’t great, as you need to go at a fairly slow pace to be able to clearly see what’s coming up next.
The original game shows its age but holds up extremely well and is one of the few Gameboy Color platformers that's still worth playing today. While certainly not as good or as deep as the later instalments it’s still a fun outing, and a great place to start if you’re new the series or a good chance to see where it all began if you’ve only played the more recent titles.