Shantae And The Pirate's Curse is currently one of the most eagerly-awaited 3DS titles in the Nintendo Life office, but this is an adventure so epic that it simply couldn't be contained to a single system. We're pleased to share the exclusive early news that WayForward is also bringing Shantae's latest outing to the Wii U eShop.
The third game in the popular Shantae series which began back in 2002 on the Game Boy Color, Pirate's Curse is the biggest adventure yet — according to WayForward, it boasts more than double the content seen in its 2010 predecessor, Shantae: Risky’s Revenge. The 3DS version is already shaping up very nicely indeed, with some gorgeous character art — courtesy of IntiCreates — and superb use of the console's auto-stereoscopic display.
However, the Wii U version takes things to another level entirely, mixing HD artwork with pixel-based sprites. It will also boast off-TV play, thanks to the Wii U GamePad. What is universal across both versions is the touch-based inventory management system and a real-time map, displayed on the lower screen on the 3DS and the GamePad screen on the Wii U.
As before, our heroine is able to whip enemies into submission with her deadly hair, and will be expected to run and jump through various locations. There's also a focus on exploration, which will no doubt be aided by the inclusion of that aforementioned real-time map. You'll be able to unlock new abilities as you get deeper into the game, while the trademark humour which has typified the series so far will also be present and correct.
One of the big gameplay changes this time around is what Shantae doesn't have access to. She is stripped of her dancing skills in this particular instalment and must instead make use of various pirate weapons she finds during her quest. These include a Flintlock Pistol (to blast enemies and hit switches from afar), Pirate Hat (to glide on the wind), Scimitar (to get the drop on your foes with a skull-cracking attack from above), Risky’s Boots (to run at super speeds) and a good, old-fashioned Cannon (to blast yourself into the air on a belch of black powder).
To get a better idea of what's in store, we spoke to WayForward Creative Director and founding member Matt Bozon about the game.
What are the defining features that distinguish this entry from its two predecessors?
The biggest shift is the Pirate Weapons. This time out Shantae can't use her dance magic, so she’s forced to learn new tricks in order to vanquish foes and overcome puzzles. The pirate theme isn't just for story; each item can be used offensively and defensively. You can destroy obstacles with your Scimitar, but it's also a weapon. Same goes for the Flintlock Pistol – it can hit switches but also blasts monsters at long range. It’s a pretty big departure from the creature transformations seen in the other games in the series. The quest flow is quite different too, with Shantae and Risky sailing together from one land to the next. There is a lot of freedom to explore in Pirate’s Curse. We also have a MAP in the game! It works like the maps in Super Metroid or Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, which was a popular request by fans. Last, the scope is a huge change from Risky’s Revenge. Pirate’s Curse is the size and scope of a traditional retail game. After working on it non-stop for a full two years, we didn't want to skimp on the size. It’s more than twice the size of the previous game!
We're deploying the same pixel-based game to both 3DS and Wii U. However, the Wii U version will use the high resolution source character art provided by IntiCreates for menus, cutscenes, and character dialogue. Just to be clear, the "in game" art remains pixel-based on Wii U.
Has the Shantae: Half-Genie Hero project had any impact on Pirate's Curse, or vice-versa, during development, whether in terms of resources, design ideas and so on?
Not at all, since they are completely separate teams. The only impact is on my sanity. Which is... what were we talking about that huh, who? The ham biscuit. Ahem. If anything we're more freed up since HERO has a nice budget to work with. Getting funding from our fans has really helped HERO to breathe on its own, so we’re extremely grateful! The Kickstarter campaign did slow me down for a good month there, but the CURSE team kept chugging along without me until I could catch up. They're a great team, and the games have very distinct personalities as a result.
Do you have a planned release window for Pirate's Curse and a final message for our readers?
Yes, we finally have a realistic release window of late Summer 2014. I’ll make the “late” Summer joke so nobody has to… harf harf. But really, the reason was because we love our fans and want the game to be absolutely amazing. We're using our final weeks of development to reduce backtracking and tune difficulty to make sure this has the best pacing, humor, action, artwork, and overall satisfaction possible.
We'd like to thank Matt Bozon for his time, and below are some more tasty screenshots to enjoy.