Friday, December 29, 2017

Shantae and the Pirate's Curse

Shantae and the Pirate's Curse was almost a pure impulse purchase for me. I saw it in the lowest tier of a humble bundle some time back and thought that maybe I should try a 2D platformer for a change. The game's user reception on Steam seemed to be rather positive too.

Allegedly a well-received 2D platformer

Unfortunately, my opinion ended up being in disagreement with the consensus and I did not like the game at all. I first played it shortly after purchase but quit it for months after I died on the second island and found out that there is no autosave; the game is only saved at the save locations manually. The last time I had done that was before solving the first island.

I have a feeling it is a feature remnant from the title's original platform, Nintendo 3DS. Maybe saving takes some time on it nor can it be done in the background and Wayforward felt it should be done only when the player feels like doing it. Or maybe it was just a mildly annoying design choice.

Regardless, I lost a lot of progress thanks to it, in a game I did not want to play all that badly. But I did eventually return to it and beat it with the complete ending with the help of a guide to tell me where all the squids and whatnots were.

Uninspired mechanics

Difficult The Pirate's Curse is not -- not really. I merely did not find the platforming nor the combat particularly enjoyable. Shantae's attacks can be upgraded for more damage and speed but it hardly makes a difference for the normal enemies which you will fight most of the time. Going from 5 damage to 8 with increments of 1 is far from exciting. You can also buy some advanced moves which I could not find a use for.

The progress-helping gadgets are more imaginative, though they seemed to have been borrowed from different platformers of old. I do wonder if it was a good idea to save the double jump (or however many consecutive jumps the cannon allows) as the last one. I often felt it should have been available earlier. Floating with the hat is not quite the same.

While the game is not generally too challenging, like I already mentioned, there is still bit of a difficulty spike when getting close to the final boss. The approach involves a lengthy platforming section that is way above anything you have done at that point. There is no saving in the middle of it either so you better bring a few restoration potions lest you run out of hearts from falling. It took me some patience to get to the boss.

In my opinion, The Pirate's Curse best feature are its visuals. The game is colorful and pretty, and I suppose the characters are somewhat charming too, even if scantily clad. But that is not enough to make me like the game. I suppose Super Mario Bros. 3 really was the pinnacle of the genre for me and it is no use to play newer titles as they are all just likely to feel inferior.

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