Shantae: Half-Genie Hero review for Switch, PS Vita, PS4, Xbox One

Platform: Nintendo Switch
Also On: PS Vita, PS4, Xbox One, Wii U, PC
Publisher: XSEED Games
Developer: WayForward
Medium: Card/Digital/Disc
Players: 1
Online: No

I have a sneaking suspicion that getting the most out of Shantae: Half-Genie Hero requires a very specific kind of nostalgia: you need to have played at least one of its predecessors. Bonus points if that predecessor is 2013’s Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse, though I imagine that either of the other, much older Shantae games will do.

At least, that’s the conclusion I have to draw when I see how universally-beloved Half-Genie Hero is. I look at some of those reactions, and I compare it to my own, and I’m left feeling as though I’m missing something.

Don’t get me wrong: Half-Genie Hero isn’t a bad game, by any stretch. As platformers go, it’s got quite a bit going for it. The worlds are big and varied, the hub does a good job of adding a story (while also being easy to navigate), and the bright visuals give the game a nice bit of flair.

But while all of those things are definitely positives, I have a hard time saying that they make Half-Genie Hero a must-have over the likes of, say, Shu. In fact, because Half-Genie Hero has a healthy dose of Metroidvania embedded in its DNA, it’s actually arguably more annoying than your standard platformer, since it occasionally demands that you go back and replay levels in order for you to progress. That’s not inherently a negative, to be sure, but it’s still a tiny bit frustrating when a game telegraphs its intentions of unlocking skills and abilities as blatantly as is the case here — particularly once you go back and realize that the areas being unlocked aren’t all that interesting.

Of course, if that’s not an issue for you, then there’s really no reason why you wouldn’t like this game. For that matter, even if it is a minor issue, the positives in Shantae: Half-Genie Hero ultimately more than outweigh the negatives. Again, you’ll probably like the game much more if you’re going in as a Shantae fan to begin with, but this game is enjoyably pleasant enough that that’s by no means a prerequisite.

Grade: B+