Shantae and the Seven Sirens is the fifth installment in the cult-classic metroidvania action platformer series that first debuted on the Nintendo GameBoy Color in 2002.
In the Shantae games, you play as a half-Genie girl whose primary attack is a hair whip, and you perform belly dances transforming Shantae into different animals, each with their own abilities. Shantae and the Seven Sirens incorporates all the mechanics from the previous titles, and enhances and adds to them, in possibly the best installment in the series so far.
In Shantae and the Seven Sirens, Our heroine and her friends visit a tropical island for vacation, and on the first night on the island, Shantae and her half-genie friends start performing a dance that ends abruptly when all of the half-genies are kidnapped, and it falls upon our heroine Shantae to save her friends.
Gameplay is an action platformer with a metroidvania level layout, where you have several hub areas, with sprawling dungeons that you have to frequently revisit whenever you acquire a new ability to be able to collect the key items that will enable you to progress further. And not just that, almost all enemies drop ability cards when defeated, that can enhance Shantae’s movement, attacks, or abilities, and a maximum of three cards can be equipped at any given time.
Of course the transformations, or the fusions -as they have been renamed to in this new title– is the unique gameplay mechanic that made Shantae the clut-classic it is, as Shantae can transform on the spot into a wall climbing lizard, a sand-drilling coral shell, a rock-smashing tortoise shell, a swimming frog, and more. And this mechanic has been updated in this new iteration to be pulled off instantly with simple button combinations, whereas in the previous titles Shantae had to perform a dance to transform, further adding to the seamless flow of the new and improved gameplay.
Of course Shantae’s signature belly dance move wasn’t omitted, but now enables the half-genie to utilize different powerups, such as revealing hidden platforms, refilling health, a powerful attack move on enemies, and much more. And special praise is due that the dance moves are now much faster to perform than previous titles, again keeping in line with the new direction of the fast, seamless flow gameplay that makes this title feel up to par with expectations of a modern audience.
More praise is also due to the overall atmosphere of the game; the absolutely excellent soundtrack, one of the best game soundtracks i have enjoyed in a while that keeps in spirit with the theme of the game. And the art style is utterly beautiful; the clean 2D art, the serene background artwork, and the characters are very well designed, as well as the animated TV-style cutscenes that are breathtakingly gorgeous. The entire game simply is a work of art.
Shantae and the Seven Sirens has managed to revitalize a series beloved by countless gamers, and is a solid entry and without a doubt the best iteration of Shantae up to date, with immaculate gameplay and art style that is guaranteed to please old fans as well as new comers to the franchise.
Shantae and the Seven Sirens is available on the Nintendo eshop now.
Special Thanks to the talented developer and publisher WayForward for the review code !