Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse Not-A-Review (Wii U eShop)

Shantae and the Pirate's Curse Wii U Release Date

It wasn’t all that long ago that we reviewed Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse for 3DS, but now there’s a brand spanking new Wii U port that’s worth talking about too. Although this was my first time with WayForward’s scantily-clad seductress, her latest adventure nevertheless had me hooked right from the get-go. She’s no stalwart bounty hunter or moody dhampir prince, but if I’ve learned anything from Pirate’s Curse it’s that Shantae can go toe-to-toe with the best of them.

In true not-a-review fashion, here’s a list of my impressions in numerical order, except the numbers don’t really mean anything because I don’t know.

1.) The level-within-a-level structure is fantastic. In Majora’s Mask, the amount of actual dungeons can be counted on one hand, but this number doesn’t take into account how the areas preceding dungeons are structured similarly to dungeons in that they contain unique puzzles and, in some cases, even mini-bosses. WayForward took this idea and totally ran with it in Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse. Each island contains an exterior section followed by the isle’s interior which acts as the game’s truest Metroidvania segments. Those exteriors, however, act like tasty appetizers to the main dish to come, which works super well.

2.) This is a better version of Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia. I picked up OoE earlier this year and I enjoyed it for the most part (the Glyph system felt pretty convoluted, though) because there wasn’t one sprawling dungeon, but a dozen or so condensed dungeons. Pirate’s Curse similarly features several isolated island levels that compensate for the lack of a single interconnected map. WayForward did a better job of pacing Pirate’s Curse than Konami did with OoE, but, then again, the latter boasts a healthier amount of overall content. Even still, I’d wager Shantae’s adventure is the more focused experience of the two.

3.) Triple jumps are sooo much fun. Shantae’s cannon upgrade allows the half-genie to not just double jump, but triple jump and, like dang, you can get some serious verticality going once you execute these jumps with some forward momentum plus the pirate’s cap. The game isn’t nearly as vertically inclined as it should be, but regardless every upgrade supplements Shantae’s ability to maneuver through levels and, most importantly, are really fun to pull off in conjunction with one another.

4.) WayForward just doing WayForward does best. The inhabitants of Sequin Land are as expressive and bouncy as ever thanks to some truly impeccable character animations which look even better in high-definition. As the credits crawled, I noticed Paul Robertson‘s name in the cast of guest animators, which totally explains sheer amount of pixel wizardry going on in Pirate’s Curse. I definitely caught myself oogling at a few Scuttle Town NPCs a couple of times as they shimmied about, so kudos for making that happen, WayForward & Co.

5.) Saturday morning Metroidvania. Outside of some outliers like Guacamelee, Metroidvanias are typically ominous affairs with brooding protagonists, but Shantae ain’t nothing like that and definitely don’t need no man to tell her how to act. There’s more than enough silly antics, groanworthy puns, and generally dorky humor to go around in Pirate’s Curse, so if those aren’t your bag, you’ve been warned (or just hold the select button to skip cutscenes?). I don’t think I’d outright say the game is legitimately funny, but I can at least appreciate the bubbly ham-fisted comedy of it all.

6.) Game works well in short bursts. The best thing about the two-part, level-within-a-level structure is that no single level ever overstays its welcome. The segmentation of levels in Pirate’s Curse works because A) you’re exploring not one, but two areas thoroughly, which makes the overarching world seem more diverse and B) you can play the game in short bursts and still feel like you’re accomplishing something. This undoubtedly has to do with the fact that this was originally a handheld title, but I found myself enjoying this breezy pacing even on the Wii U thanks to its off-screen support since, y’know, gotta watch Guy Fieri or whatever while belly dancing with Shantae. Multi-tasking is important, after all.

While the Wii U port of Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse plays it safe by only introducing some cosmetic improvements here and there, the base game is undoubtedly one of the year’s best platformers and deserves to be left alone. You can’t go wrong downloading either the Wii U or 3DS version, but just do yourself a favor and pick up one of them because chances are you won’t be disappointed.

Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse is available now on the Wii U (and 3DS!) eShop for $19.99 and is destined for Europe early next year.

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About The Author

Former Co-Editor

Trace Wysaske lives somewhere in Washington, and when he isn't compulsively hunting Green Stars or felling the Lagiacrus, he's writing about everything from forlorn Japanese teachers to well-mannered crows. He still needs to play Ghost Trick.