Shantae – Full Review

Info: Price £4.49, Developer: Wayforward , Genre: Platformer , Players: 1

Shantae is an 8-bit 2D platformer which was released very late into the Game Boy Color’s (GBC) lifespan back in 2002 (which also happened to be the start of the Game Boy Advance (GBA)’s lifespan) so, perhaps understandably, this game was overlooked in it’s day. It was also not released in Europe until now.

Shantae-coverThis game came out last week to many gamers’ delight, as before that the only way to get Shantae (GBC) was to find an extremely rare copy on eBay, which usually went for $300 (£200) minimum.

This game was one of Wayforward’s first titles and they were pretty much unknown at the time. Indeed they had to rely on CAPCOM to get it published alongside Resident Evil Gaiden. Now Wayforward have grown and have several well-known titles under their belt like Mighty Switch Force, MSF2 and A Boy & His Blob.

Now onto the game itself, You start out as the half-genie, Shantae, hired by the mayor to protect the harbor town of Scuttlebutt. The game immediately starts out with a pirate attack by none other than Shantae’s arch-nemesis, Risky Boots, the female pirate.

The first thing you will notice is the quality of the graphics and animation of this game. They push the boundaries of the GBC to say the least, and many have assumed it of being on a GBA game. The animation of Shantae running is smooth and even when in town with background characters walking by Shantae doesn’t suffer from any lag. Another little quirk is that the game changes from day to night even when playing through a level and there is a noticeable difference in the graphics. The enemies are also tougher at night.

In terms of moves, at the start you only get to jump, whip her hair and a useless belly dance, but as time goes on you learn belly dances that give her different abilities ; such as transforming into animals to get past obstacles or enemies. An example is the ability to transform into a monkey to give her the ability to climb.

shentai risky

“Come near my cannon, if you dare”

The audio has some good sounds mostly of an Arabian desert theme which fits the character and the setting. However they are limited by the Game Boy Color’s sound chip, lacking in quality when compared to the graphics but still decent.

There are several little extras in this game when visiting the towns, like the ability to belly dance to get more gems and using the sauna to regenerate your health.

This game, while fun and cheerful, can be difficult at times due to several factors. These include only having 3 hearts of health, which can go quickly as some enemies can jump out from the bottom. Also the tiny screen size limits your sight of obstacles and pits which can cause you to die often, especially when making long jumps from above, and a lack of a map for navigation making trekking into the less known parts difficult. Another thing that can annoy players, especially beginners, is that there are no checkpoints in the levels so if you die you will be sent back to the beginning to the level, although with the Virtual Console release a save state is available so this at least goes some way to combatting this flaw.

One of the features that the Virtual Console re-release lacks is the GBA enhancement mode ; when the original cartridge was played on a GBA the title screen was enhanced with certain animations in the game.


Shantae is a great example of how a game can push the boundaries of a console’s hardware and also how an old classic can hold up in modern times. Its also alot cheaper than those aforementioned eBay copies!


  • Great Background Graphics
  • Fun to Play
  • Good use of animal based abilities


  • No GBA Enhanced mode
  • Screen size is cramped, causing a lot of leap of faiths
  • Difficulty can be off-putting to beginners.


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