I recently posted about the Power Pros Podcast, which I'm a fan of, and the main guy regularly gushes about the Shantae games. I'd had mixed feelings about the original game on Game Boy Color when I'd played it a few years ago, as I'd enjoyed it but had found a number of parts of it to be pretty rough, including the amount of backtracking due to a clunky warp system. I've been overdue for checking out the next game in the series, but Power Pros helped give me the necessary push.
Shantae: Risky's Revenge was originally released on DSi, but is now available on a host of platforms, including Steam, 3DS, and Wii U. The later releases were given a "Director's Cut" which added warp points and a hard mode after you beat the main game. I'm happy to say that the second game does succeed in fulfilling the promise of the first and is better in pretty much every way. As you'd expect from WayForward, the pixel graphics are top notch, and the game is extremely polished throughout. The controls are great, and the environments are distinct.
The game starts off with the most confusing areas at the beginning, which is a town and a forest that you navigate by jumping to the background or foreground, like in the Virtual Boy Wario Land game and Guardian Heroes on Sega Saturn. For the most part progression through the rest of the game is pretty straightforward, although the map does take a bit of getting used to. Oddly enough, Risky's Revenge is more limited in scope than the original, but this is no doubt due to the size limitations of downloadable DSi titles. The gameplay is pretty much the same as the first game, but everything is more focused and polished. There are only a few dungeons, but they're much more interesting and memorable. There are only three transformations (only one of which is new), but they're still a lot of fun. Special weapon items use up a magic gauge instead of being expendable as in the first game, so they're more usable and more fun. The special weapons definitely help, as the game is more challenging than you'd expect just based on its visuals. I don't know about the original version of the game, but the warp system in this Director's Cut version works perfectly well, and fixes the travel-related tediousness of the first game.
The colorful cast and entertaining story and main character tie everything together, and although I was a bit skeptical even after I'd gotten pretty far into the game, in the end I was won over by Shantae and company and would have to rank this as one of the best games I've played in a while. I'm looking forward to playing the next two games in the series, so much so that I went ahead and pre-ordered the deluxe version of the latest game, Shantae: Half-Genie Hero for Nintendo Switch. It comes with the three DLC, which should be a fun to check out as well.