So I just purchased and played the new Shantae game, Risky’s Revenge Director’s Cut. I bought it before it went on sale because I was thoroughly sure and excited about how good it was. You see, if you are a regular reader of this blog, then you will know how much of a fan I am of the original Shantae, and I gushed about how it basically fixed all previous problems from Simon’s Quest, which it retained the core gameplay from. It was brilliantly written, well paced, had good conveyance, amazing spritework and music, and was an overall awesome experience, still recommended for study by any designer of today. The same cannot be said for Risky’s Revenge.
While Shantae basically fixed Simon’s Quest with its own unique spin, Risky’s Revenge proceeds to outright copy many of the glaring problems from Simon’s Quest, turning it into the single worst “Metroid-Vania” that I have ever played. Keep in mind that going into this game, I was really excited to play the game I missed before, and the sequel to one of my favorite Gameboy games of all time. With that in mind, the game instantly fell in so many areas. Despite this, let’s start with the positives.
It’s no secret that Risky’s Revenge has some of the best animated pixel art, and that’s not really an arguable point. However, one of the main problems in Risky’s Revenge is how empty the game feels. You’ll constantly be in empty fields with no enemies, and it gets worse when textures are reused in forests and whatnot. Now this might not seem like a valid complaint at first, but it absolutely is when you play the game and notice how big and drug-out some of these areas are. Too many areas will look samey, and it’s easy to get lost unless you bought a map back in town (which the game gives you zero indication that you’ll need).
This is where the first similarity to Simon’s Quest comes up, and this is where both this game and that game fall flat so easily. Risky’s Revenge fails to show the player where to go without outright telling them with an arrow or something of that nature. In short, it’s conveyance on where to go is outright terrible. This is a common problem with open-ended games of this nature, however Risky’s Revenge suffers from it like cancer when it decides to give you so many areas that have nothing but the exact same enemies in them. The game literally wastes your time in the overworld by failing to provide enemy variety, area distinction, and the game feels messy when compared to the compact and brilliantly designed Shantae. Even worse, the game even has a lot of smaller problems that most games would never include intentionally, such as the delay on hair whips. There is a ridiculous delay, it freezes you in place, and in a game with a ton of backtracking, this is inexcusable. While this could also be attributed to the original Shantae, that game never required you to get through empty environments, and rushing usually caused you to either miss something important, or die.
Another problem with Risky’s Revenge is the music. Many people love this soundtrack, but when compared to the original soundtrack of the GBC game, it shares too many tracks that aren’t nearly as good in their updated forms for it to stand on it’s own as a solid soundtrack. A missed opportunity, and virt could have done much better.
The next similarity with Simon’s Quest is when the game decides to not tell you things, or not tell you enough details about something. Sometimes Risky’s Revenge will just leave out important details, leaving the player with nothing but trial-and-error to show them where to go, which is the worst way to show a player where to go.
Sadly, even the characters and story didn’t seem as well written as in the first game. The intro sequence seemed a bit rushed, like they had to have it, and overall felt bland. It lacks the attention to detail that the original oozed with. It tries to build tension by firing Shantae as Scuttle Town’s half-genie and making her leave, but they just say that. They could have had her keep her job and nothing would have been different. This seemed like lazy and rushed writing that was forced in. This game did not feel solidified in its concepts, and failed to deliver the great personalities of the key characters in the game.
I know not what more to say for this game. It’s not a good game. It’s a terrible experience that reeks of trying to live off of the original game, and overall was just another “Metroid-vania” game to me. It shared too many beginner’s mistakes for me to forgive it, and I just flat-out did not enjoy it. The graphics, while impressive for pixel art, did little for bland and lifeless environments that shared the same enemies for longer than necessary. The music was recycled from the first game, and it is basically Simon’s Quest wearing the Shantae outsides, promising that it was different now, but it only fixed a few problems. To make matters worse for Risky’s Revenge, many of the problems it shares with Simon’s Quest were fixed in the original game, and it could have easily just retained those fixes and been infinitely better. More time was needed to polish everything overall, and it feels lazily made and rushed. I won’t discuss the lazy job porting the game, because it’s a port, and it plays the game on a different platform, which is all I wanted from it. They did what they needed. I like Wayforward, but they’re either hit or miss on many of their games, and this was, sadly, a major calamity for the Shantae series. I hope that they fix these problems with the next game on 3DS, or even Half-Genie hero. Overall, this can and should be easily forgotten when compared to the original, especially since the original is on the 3DS eShop right now. Buy that instead.