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I’m not in the habit of downloading new games. I have nothing against it in principle, cheap, new easy-to-access titles are obviously a good thing but I tend to favour more high-end releases that offer a richer experience. It doesn’t help that the Nintendo consoles don’t offer the best choice of download games with many of the higher profile offerings limited to the HD platforms but for once I’ve made an exception.

Shantae – Risky’s Revenge is the long overdue sequel to a popular Game Boy Colour game starring the eponymous belly-dancer half-genie who is called into action when busty lady-pirate Risky Boots pinches a mysterious lamp. You must guide the sexy heroine around a colourful side-scrolling world in search of the magical seals Miss Boots is hunting. It’s traditional platforming fare with a fresh sass and some cool gameplay mechanics that make it stand out from the crowd. The game has been lauded as the best available to download from DSiWare and although I have little experience to allow me to make comparisons I’m inclined to agree.

Rather than the usual linear succession of levels Shantae is set in an open explorable world Metroid style with various themed areas to discover. Don’t expect the level of depth from this world you’d get from one of Samus’ adventures, most areas are quite basic in design with the focus very much on action and there are a lot of enemies to take down everywhere you go. The handful of dungeons switch things up with some neat puzzles and timed challenges and come complete with imaginative boss encounters.

Shantae controls sharply with the usual run, jump and attack actions. Her unique primary attack is to whip her big purple ponytail at enemies in a way that would give any normal person serious whiplash. Additionally she can belly-dance to transform into a variety of animals and gain new abilities. The monkey for example can jump higher and climb walls. The various upgrades open up new avenues in the open-ended world, a design quirk that goes hand in hand with some hefty back-tracking.  It’s a fast-paced game and lots of fun to play but doesn’t give Mario a run for his money.

One area the game excels is in its visual presentation. Shantae’s is a very pretty game that makes vibrant use of primary colours, animated sprites and detailed backgrounds. The music is bouncy and the sound effects comical. The thin script is peppered with amusing fourth-wall breaking gags and the whole package comes with a quality sheen that most DSiWare games lack.

The only real complaint with Risky’s Revenge is that it’s a flash in the pan. Just as the game feels like It’s really getting into its stride it ends but this is part and parcel of low budget download titles. While it lasts it’s a blast and will give most players a challenge on the way but one can’t help but wonder what could have been achieved with a full release.

Verdict

A quality title with a mildly sexy edge that looks great and plays well. One of the better experiences available to download on the DSi and 3DS.

 

Presentation – 7

Design – 6

Gameplay – 7

Graphics – 8

Sound – 7

Difficulty – 7

Longevity – 5

 

Overall

 

8.2

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