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Interview: WayForward on Shantae's Past, Present and Future

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

Some "pretty big surprises" in store for Pirate's Curse this Fall

With the release of Shantae (originally a Game Boy Color title) this week we touched base with WayForward's Creative Director and founding member, Matt Bozon, and he kindly agreed to a quick-fire interview before he jetted off to Comic-Con.

This is a series that, despite being just two games old — the first of which didn't make it to Europe until this week's 3DS Virtual Console release — has already accumulated plenty of loyal fans. Both Shantae and Shantae: Risky's Revenge combine gorgeous pixel heart with plenty of action and exploration; the first was a retail title originally published by Capcom, while the second arrived on DSiWare. While a company well-known for high-quality contract work, it's arguably its own IPs such as this that represent the studio's work at its best, which explains the anticipation ahead of Shantae and the Pirate's Curse landing on the 3DS eShop.

In this exclusive interview we're told about the process to bring Shantae to the 3DS eShop, more on the series as a whole and a few teasers for what's coming next.

Nintendo Life: Getting the original Shantae onto the Virtual Console seems to have been important to WayForward. Can you explain the process, and whether there were issues due to it previously being a Capcom published title?

Matt Bozon: Yes, before the 3DS was announced we asked Nintendo if we could be first in line – assuming their next system would have VC support. Our earliest conversations were about bringing the game to WiiWare, so we’ve been planning this for a while. Shantae was originally published by Capcom back in 2002, but WayForward retained the rights to the game. So removal of the Capcom logo is the only change you’ll see in this release… it’s otherwise identical. Collectors should still hang onto their physical copies however, since there was a bonus item that only appeared when the Game Pak was inserted into a Game Boy Advance.

NL: If developed today, would this have been an eShop title, or to put it another way, do you hope to release a Shantae retail game in the future, or do you want it to be a download based series?

MB: If made today it would be a digital title, definitely. The cost of manufacturing is the main reason this game released well into the GBA’s life cycle. At 32 MegaBits, it was the biggest Game Boy title with the largest eeprom ever manufactured. It sat in its final form with Capcom for 8 months until they brilliantly forced the game into stores by packing it in the same box as Resident Evil Gaiden, or so I was told. If a retail store wanted to order copies of RE, they had to get Shantae too. Capcom really pushed to get this unknown game into player’s hands and we’re forever grateful to them for believing in the credibility of this brand. But now that there’s the option, digital distribution is the best path for the Shantae series these days. I could see a physical collector’s edition someday if enough people want it.

NL: This is the first time that this original Shantae has arrived in Europe; how would you summarise the impact of download stores on your ability to self-publish and share your games with larger audiences than before?

MB: Without digital stores we would simply have no way to make this happen. We pushed for years to get Shantae Advance released, but it’s relegated to a hard drive somewhere, still in an unfinished state. That happened because as the GBA aged, no one wanted to risk the dollars to manufacture it. It’s even harder for a game that released to low numbers to be translated and get a 2nd run in a new territory. Digital stores reverse this problem beautifully. Any game of any art style from anywhere can get its chance to shine. Players vote with their dollars based on what’s the most fun to them. It’s a refreshingly welcome change.

NL: For those new to this first title, can they expect gameplay largely the same as in Risky’s Revenge, or is this a series where you've aimed for subtle improvements over drastic shake-ups?

MB: Risky’s Revenge is a natural evolution in the series, with magic meters replacing items and save rooms replacing 1Ups. But the base gameplay is very similar. The most jarring difference is the difficulty and scope of the original game. It is much larger than RR, with day and night swaps, 50 areas, 4 towns, 3 mini games and 4 main dungeons as opposed to 2 in Risky’s. My speed runs of Risky’s Revenge come in at roughly 2 hours, whereas Shantae still takes me around 6 hours. The Create Checkpoint options of Virtual Console actually help to modernize the game a bit, so oldschool setbacks don’t sting quite so badly. But it’s still a stiff challenge when compared to the kinder, gentler WayForward games that would follow – you know, like Contra 4 and Bloodrayne: Betrayal.

NL: Can you provide our readers with an update on Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse, such as a target release window and perhaps a teaser or two about what to expect?

MB: Sure, an update is overdue isn’t it? Development on Pirate’s Curse has not slowed at all. From the start we’ve have a dedicated team working full time unlike in past years where we’d put Shantae on hold while we worked on licensed games. At our current size we can have many games in development, which has been critical to keeping this game on schedule. Currently we’re looking at a Fall release in 2013. We’ll be sure to get Nintendo Life readers more details in the next few weeks… the game looks beautiful and we’ve got some pretty big surprises to reveal. Like BIG surprises, and I’m really looking forward to sharing more! For now, please support us by picking up the original Shantae, which is currently on Virtual Console at $4.99. Think of it as a $1,995.00 off sale compared to the recent eBay price!

We'd like to thank Matt Bozon for his time. Let us know what you make of these comments, the arrival of Shantae on the 3DS VC and the upcoming Pirate's Curse in the comments below.

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User Comments (26)



WindWakerLink said:

This was a fun read. I got Shantae and played it for the 1st time yesterday. Oooo! i only played the 1st parts and just from that i know: Its going to be SO GOOD!!!



unrandomsam said:

I think this is better than the second one better level of difficulty but still very playable.

I wish the second one looked better on my 3DS XL. (Suppose it is great on a DSi XL). I would probably be a remastered version if it became available it is very short though so I dunno.

Don't think Mighty Switch Force is all that though. (There is one or 2 levels near the end that are pretty good if there was just 15 at that sort of quality I might have been happy with it).



sinalefa said:

Never played a shantae so i will work chronologically through it. The first one is also cheaper, in case it is not my cup of tea.



XyVoX said:

What size were GB & GBC carts then because 32 MegaBits is huge for the time.



cbkummer said:

This was a great read! WayForward is up there with Retro Studios as far as quality, in my opinion. They have such talent, especially with side-scrollers



SheldonRandoms said:

I still remember years ago, when I first heard about this game with a genie girl called Shantae, it looked really good and I wanted to play it, but when I checked online, the prices were just too much for me. When Risky's Revenge was released, it was alot of fun, but I always wanted to play the original, and thanks to the virtual console, I finally can.

Can't wait for Shantae And The Pirate's Curse.



Holmfry said:

Is it wrong that I just found out I could get around $1500 for my boxed copy of Shantae and still wouldn't sell it? At the time it was released I couldn't believe how hard it was to find, I'd been following its development for some time and I always thought it would be a big release when it dropped. I had no idea just how lucky I was to find that one last copy at eb games.

Man, these games are awesome.



unrandomsam said:

@Holmfry Don't think it is as good as some of the other very highly priced games. You could get one of the best serial numbered Neo Geo AES's and an XRGB3 and a few games for that price. (Or an MVS Arcade cabinet with 4 or 6 of the best games). Or the portable version of the PC Engine and most of the good Jap games. (You could get hardly any if you wanted English ones. Too many are about as expensive as Shantae. Something like Magical Chase is much better on the TG16 than Gameboy Color but still 1000$ in English hucard. Its not wrong.



crazyj2312 said:

I beat RR rather quickly and while it was worth the 12 bucks, it was a bit short. From videos and stuff I've seen about the original though, this game looks way longer and for 5 bucks? Instantly want to buy it



Rawk_Hawk said:

I love Risky's revenge and I think 3D is really going to make the next game look amazing.



unrandomsam said:

I hope whatever price the 3DS one is it compared favourably in terms of how long it is. (Not really bothered about looks so much). i.e If it is £10 twice as long. (£20 4 times as long). I am less bothered about price then when I had less money as a child but modern games are totally disposable and don't last anywhere near long enough. At the amount I used to play them up until being about 14 there is no way whatsoever I could have paid for enough games to have just not finished one at any given moment.



ACK said:

Just because every article needs a comment referencing the Smash Bros. roster:

Shantae in Smash. I'm calling it.

Actually, I'm not. Would be an awesome character choice, though there is literally no chance. I do wonder if Smash will ever adopt a character with a western genesis..

Anyway, already bought it for my wife's 3DS... Can you believe I lost the original way back on a family road trip? For all I know it's still decomposing in some campgrounds across South Dakota, most likely in a neon orange fanny pack (don't ever bring this up again). Hey, what's a weathered Shantae cartridge go for? As a young, diligent gamer, I even lost it in the original packaging, manual and all.

Might be worth a treasure hunt if anyone's ever wandering through the Black Hills... (Only other clue I recall is going to Camp Bedrock, or whatever the Flintstone attraction is/was, on the same day.)



NImH said:

I love Wayforward but do kinda wish they'd tone down the fanboy service. I can't really share the game with my kids because I'm afraid of a questionable background sprite or excessive jiggling. They did a great job with MSF HD edition. We all love it.



Capt_N said:

@NImH: Yeah, they need to tone it down a bit. Not too much, but enough. Though, obviously, stereotypical women/girl genies are fairly revealing.

I, too, am excited for Pirate's Curse. WayForward is a very excellent studio, as far as I'm concerned. I'm still playing MSF, I d'l-ed, & am still playing MSF2 the Friday after it hit (the e-Shop), & I allocated e-Shop funds, specifically for Shantae d/l-ing yesterday.

On a slightly unrelated note, I also d/l-ed Pictobits a week ago. I can safely say that Nintendo seems to have handhelds down to an art. I play my 3ds quite frequently, & it's pretty much always in my pocket, after I make sure it's charged up (for use).



ecco6t9 said:

Never knew that Shantae rode on Resident Evil's coattails at least to get into stores.



Shambo said:

"I could see a physical collector’s edition someday if enough people want it."

I knowI want it. I cannot possibly be the only one?

Also, could there be a retail HD local co-op Aliens Infestation? That'd be game of the century material to me...



ICEknight said:

"Collectors should still hang onto their physical copies however, since there was a bonus item that only appeared when the Game Pak was inserted into a Game Boy Advance."

Damn, they could remove the Capcom logo but couldn't activate the RAM address that told the game it was being played on a GBA? This really sucks.



Joygame51 said:

I am seriously thinking of getting this.. I never played it on GBC but it actually seems pretty cool ... and what the heck I play MARIO 2 THE Lost Levels why not shante.



Bensei said:

It's really annoying that the GBA-Features are turned off...
And btw, the recent ebay price is something above 250$, 2000$ would be the signed copy...



ProtomanRedBomb said:

About the new Kickstarter hit, HD Shantae Game:

We STILL CAN PLEDGE VIA PAYPAL. PayPal will be open for sometime (few months). If you will pledge and get a copy via PayPal, you get all KickStarter exclusive benefits (extra costumes and weapon). Also, the amount will be add to stretch goals funding. More informations at: "". You can check stretch goals list and funding on Kickstarter page. The page to pledge via Pay Pal is: "".

About DLCs: Wayforward already told that some strecht goals like voice acting and animated cutscenes can only be done before game development finishes. Anyway, if you can pledge to get your copy now, with exclusive extra costumes and weapon, and help the game to get more content, why wait to buy later with less free content?

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