Shantae Risky's Revenge | logo
Title Shantae: Risky’s Revenge – Director’s Cut
Developer WayForward
Publisher WayForward, Limited Run Games
Release Date June 23, 2015 (PC, PlayStation 4,); March 2016 (Wii U);
Oct. 15, 2020 (Nintendo Switch); Oct. 19, 2021 (PlayStation 5)
Genre Action-adventure, Platformer
Platform PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S
Age Rating All-ages
Official Website

When it comes to games I’ve had in my backlog since forever, the Shantae series is at the top of the list. My husband has been asking me to play them for years and I’ve always had something else that took precedence. Well, not today, and I’m really kicking myself for not putting those other games to the side and listening to him earlier. What a fun, charming experience it’s been.

Scuttle Town is once again under attack from the feared pirate Risky Boots, who steals a magic lamp from Shantae’s uncle, Mimic. Now it’s up to our intrepid Half-Genie Hero to retrieve the relic and save Sequin Land from whatever the perilous pirate has planned. Along the way we get to interact with a zany cast of characters: a falconer named Sky; weapons master Bolo; a zombie named Rottytops who wants to eat Shantae’s brains; the hungry Squid Baron; the militant Ammo Baron; and the ghostly Hypno Baron.

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I played the original Shantae just to get a taste for the series, and I’ve got to say, the changes in Risky’s Revenge were a bit of a mixed bag, though overall positive. Gone are the free heal hot springs and dancing minigame (I missed it dearly). Dancing itself is significantly different, where instead of pressing inputs in time to metronome, now you just hold the dance button down for a certain amount of time in order to transform. You also only have three forms to change into: Monkey, Elephant, and Mermaid. I found the dance mechanics of the original Shantae finicky at best and infuriating at worst, but the changes to dancing in Risky felt a bit too simplified. The animations were fantastic, though. All the animations in the games are great, and watching Shantae and the other characters move is a joy. Shantae’s hair whip also felt way more responsive, and I enjoyed the speed upgrades. It made snappy combat feel even snappier.

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Money felt entirely superfluous after the first dungeon, especially since the best upgrades were from Magic Jam. It was a never-ending struggle for money in the original Shantae, and I spent way more time than I probably should have in the dancing minigame trying to earn my keep so I could buy items and upgrades. While I enjoyed the physical attacks Shantae could acquire in the first game, I preferred the magic spells in Risky. I found them much more useful in combat, especially the Pike Ball, which I used with abandon. And if you bought the replenishing MP skill (again with Magic Jam), it made using her spells even easier. That being said, I can only think of maybe two instances where magic was mandatory, so I think the system definitely could have been more fleshed out. Then again, I don’t really consider Risky’s Revenge a remotely difficult game, especially compared to its predecessor. It feels like an entry-level action-adventure game, and I’m perfectly happy with that, because the world and characters ooze charm and are a great stepping stone into the genre.

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I’ve touched on it a bit here, but visually this game is amazing, especially for what was originally a DSiWare title. The Director’s Cut offers four screen mode options: Original, Square (4:3) with Border, Square (4:3), and Wide (16:9). While the 4:3 options aren’t awful, I spent my entire playthrough in Original mode. It just looked crisper. The 4:3 modes are muddier, and I don’t know why anyone would ever play in 16:9. On the other hand, the DC includes super high-res character portraits and they’re gorgeous. Other Director’s Cut inclusions are new illustrations, achievements, emoticons, fully configurable controls, and unlockable Magic Mode with an alternate costume. Character animation is fluid, backgrounds are bright and colorful, and every zone has a distinct palette and feel. The score also deserves some applause, because the music in this game is just fantastic. More often than not I would find myself bopping my head to the tunes, and Scuttle Town’s theme got stuck in my head on more than one occasion.

I really enjoyed my time with Shantae: Risky’s Revenge – Director’s Cut. It’s by no means a long game – I only clocked about six-and-a-half hours – and it’s not particularly difficult, but it oozes charm from every pore, with cute characters, witty dialogue and head-bopping music. Considering this is like the fourth time WayForward has released this game, $10 USD is a decent price. If you’ve never played the Shantae series, it’s not a bad entry to grab, and if you’re new to the genre, it’s a great place to start.

Want to see what oprainfall thought about other ports of Risky’s Revenge? Check out the Switch edition here and the PlayStation 4 edition here.

Review Score

Review copy provided by the publisher.

Leah McDonald
Leah's been playing video games since her brother first bought an Atari back in the 1980s and has no plans to stop playing anytime soon. She enjoys almost every genre of game, with some of her favourites being Final Fantasy Tactics, Shadow of the Colossus, Suikoden II and The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. Leah lives on the East Coast with her husband and son. You can follow Leah over on Twitter @GamingBricaBrac