Price: $2.99 (In-App Purchase)
Version Reviewed: 1.0.1
Device Reviewed On: iPad 1, iPod touch 4
Graphics / Sound Rating:
Game Controls Rating:
Replay Value Rating:
WayForward Technologies is mostly well-known for their high-quality licensed titles on Nintendo platforms, as well as being a Douglas Adams reference. However, they occasionally dabble into original works as well, like they did back in 2002 with Shantae. Released for the Game Boy Color, the game was a Metroidvania-style platformer; this means the levels were open worlds, and Shantae could learn new abilities to help explore previously inaccessible locations, as well as gaining new abilities over time, such as animal transformations for exploring new areas. Shantae: Risky's Revenge, originally released for DSi Ware in 2010, is their first iOS title. It follows largely the same structure as the original, with an open overworld to traverse, dungeons to explore, and plenty of secrets along the way that must be revisited later with new abilities.
The structure is familiar, but it still works extremely well after all this time. The App Store definitely lacks for expansive platformers like this, and for those experiencing the franchise for the first time, the charm and wonder of the universe the game creates will be as fresh as it was in 2002, back when it was on the tiny Game Boy Color screen. The game's design encourages backtracking when new powers and abilities are acquired to explore sections that were previously unavailable; this game is almost perfect in the way that it teases unavailable sections and items. The world is extremely colorful, and the animation is top-notch. The app is free to try out for the opening section of the game, before an in-app purchase (currently $2.99) to unlock the rest of the game. The game is universal; those who purchase the game on one platform and want to purchase on another will have to go through the process of putting their password in as if to buy it again, but it will prompt to unlock the game for free after that.
The immediately noticable thing about Shantae: Risky's Revenge is that this was not built from the ground up for iOS; everything is scaled and bordered, using up only a fraction of the screen, which is particularly noticable on the iPad. All the menus and graphics outside the game are stylistically dissonant to the in-game graphics. Some of the backtracking just becomes excessive after a while, and the game isn't quite as expansive or even as challenging as the GBC original, though this is likely an issue for only the few people that have played it like myself! The game purports to support iCloud, but it never was enabled for me across either of my iOS5 devices.
I waited many years for this follow-up, and this was about as much as I could have hoped for. I can only hope more sequels (which the ending leaves itself open to) are on the way, and that they don't take 8-plus years to make! Fans of the Metroidvania genre of platformer will find a great example of the genre here with Shantae: Risky's Revenge.