First Impressions: Shantae and the Pirate's Curse

A "Risky" new title

While Wayforward Technologies' Shantae and the Pirate's Curse is one of Nintendo Life's more anticipated upcoming eShop titles, the critically acclaimed series has yet to resonate with the "mass market," likely because the original had the misfortune of being released on Game Boy Color at the end of its life cycle and its sequel was developed for the overlooked DSiWare service. With Pirate's Curse set to release on the more user-friendly 3DS eShop and the successfully Kickstarted Wii U entry Shantae: Half-Genie Hero getting lots of good buzz, hopefully Shantae will have a chance to shine.

We got to try out a demo of Pirate's Curse at this year's New York Comic-Con; the series' stunning pixel art and festive music was on display and better than ever, with the visuals complemented by the 3D effect. More importantly, the gameplay was solid as ever and we came away shaking our heads at the fact that gamers weren't fighting over the 3DS units to play the exciting adventure.

We were able to try a portion of a dungeon that is likely early in Shantae's journey. Fan favourite character Bolo explained the standard, self-explanatory platforming controls before Shantae set off on her dungeon crawl. At the onset, Shantae had no special abilities or powers and was limited to her signature "hair whip" attack. Dungeons in the Shantae series are structured like those found in The Legend of Zelda series — but viewed from a side-scrolling perspective, obviously. Shantae must traverse large chasms, defeat enemies, find keys and solve simple environmental puzzles.

The dominant recurring puzzle found in the demo involved Shantae hair-whipping switches to move platforms across large chasms and navigate the many rooms. While the puzzle was nothing we haven't seen before, it was still satisfying to get from one room to another. After finding a key and unlocking a blocked path, we came across a treasure chest containing Risky's Gun (Risky Boots is Shantae's evil rival). Using the gun, we were able to hit switches from afar and attack enemies from a safer distance. While in past games Shantae learned dance moves that transformed into various animals with special abilities, Pirate's Curse will have Shantae finding more swashbuckling-themed items to add to her arsenal; hopefully her dancing won't be completely omitted.

Sadly, we were unable to try the demo's boss thanks to a line forming behind us. While it would have been great to keep playing, it was encouraging to see more gamers interested in this exciting title. Shantae and the Pirate's Curse is due for release this fall on the Nintendo eShop. Are you looking forward to Shantae's latest adventure? Let us know in the comments section.

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