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Shantae Half Genie Hero Review (Nintendo Switch)

The half genie hero with the killer hair is back in this Ultimate Edition adventure for Nintendo Switch. We’ve been giving ourselves whiplash and dancing up a storm for our full review.

Shantae only just hit the Switch in a ported version of Pirate’s Curse, which originally released on Nintendo’s other portable console, the 3DS. We can’t get enough of her hilarious adventures though, so we’re happy to see an Ultimate Edition version of Half Genie Hero get a Switch release too.

What is Half Genie Hero?

Half Genie Hero is the fourth Shantae title and the follow-on to Pirate’s Curse (although there’s no need to play them in a specific order). The plot is just as bonkers as ever, and plays out more like a season of an Anime TV show. You’ll have to take down plenty of colourful antagonists, each hatching their own nefarious plots. From stealing the memories of the townsfolk to pulling off a daring race track heist, the entertaining schemes will actually have you rooting for the baddies, even as you go head-to-head.

Because this game was launched on home consoles rather than the 3DS, the presentation is a serious step up from Pirate’s Curse. Gone are the blocky visuals, replaced with silky smooth animation and crisp graphics. Audio is also a highlight, even if those hilarious cutscenes aren’t fully voiced. At the very least, the music will have you nodding along as you traverse each level.

Transformation central

For anyone who hasn’t played a Shantae title before, Half Genie Hero’s gameplay consists of fast-paced 2D platforming. Each level has its own theme, with a very different look and feel. From dusty desert landscapes blasted by fierce gales to watery lagoons, the diversity helps to keep things interesting. Between levels you’ll pick up quests from the townsfolk, some of which are optional. These are well worth doing however, for the rewards you’ll get.

The further you progress, the more skills you’ll pick up, in true Metroidvania style. Shantae has the ability to transform into all manner of creatures via the medium of dance. As a monkey for instance she can scale to new heights with zero effort. As an elephant she can smash through walls, while her mermaid form allows her to fully explore the underwater sections.

Half Genie Hero’s difficulty curve is a little all over the place at times, however. Some early bits such as the Mermaid Falls boss battle and the infuriating jumpy parts of Tassel Town gave me some grief, while later sections feel all too easy once you’ve gained a massive array of powers. Still, I never felt frustrated enough to quit playing. The game is both addictive and charming enough to steer you through any iffy moments.

Begin again

Replayability is also a strength of Half Genie Hero. For one, you’ll find yourself returning to completed levels throughout the game to hunt down any missed collectibles. As you learn new skills and transformations, you’ll be able to reach previously inaccessible sections.

Plus, this Ultimate Edition Switch version packs in some bonus content that’s worth a perusal. Plenty of new game modes encourage another playthrough, including Hero Mode (start with all skills unlocked) and Pirate Queen’s Quest (which has you playing the same levels with a different storyline, as baddie Risky Boots).

You can pick up Half Genie Hero Ultimate Edition right now from the Nintendo Switch store.

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