WayForward seems to be having a rather busy year, producing the much-anticipated DuckTales: Remastered with Capcom, while the studio's name has popped up on some licensed titles. While those projects are part of what keeps the company in business, it's best known for its own IP; Shantae is arguably the most recognisable in its library. With Shantae And The Pirate's Curse coming to the 3DS eShop and crowdfunding for HD title Shantae: Half-Genie Hero — which will come to Wii U if the campaign succeeds — past the halfway mark, the prominence of the character as the company's mascot doesn't look likely to change anytime soon.
In an industry seemingly dominated by male game characters and mascots, however, Shantae is a relative rarity. In an interview with GirlGamer.com, WayForward's Matt Bozon explained the origins of the character.
My wife Erin created Shantae in 1994 while she and I were engaged. We met at CalArts, both there to learn animation. She got a flash of inspiration from back in her camp counselor days, and named Shantae after one of the campers. I loved it and started working with her on a mythology, adding supporting characters and bad guys. Erin also liked the idea of a game character who could conjure animals or charm them with her dancing. It later became transforming into them.
Shantae's hair whip attack was inspired by the creator, meanwhile, as her hair was 9 feet long at the time. While the character has become popular in the years since her debut, Bozon did say that one reason these games are now self-published is the resistance the company faced having Shantae as the lead.
We had many, many battles early on and lost. But we stuck to our guns and never made Shantae the 2nd playable character next to a male hero (it was suggested many times). So I like to think we softened the game biz up a bit.
It seems that the upcoming games will reveal more back-story for the hero, with assurances that both the 3DS and crowdfunded HD title will reveal more about Shantae's history.
A lot of this has been building up to the question of “What exactly is a genie in this universe, and where is Shantae’s mom”? There’s a cool back story written for all of that, and we’ll be rolling it out in both Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse (3DS) and Half-Genie Hero (HD game currently on Kickstarter). I want to explain Risky Boots more, get into the character of Rottytops… all of that will happen in these two games. She’s a half-genie, and her dad is human, so there has been speculation about who he might be.
It should be a big year ahead for Shantae — Shantae: Half-Genie Hero is targeting October 2014, while Pirate's Curse is due this year — and we're rather pleased that WayForward is investing more in the character. Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.