Shantae and the Seven Sirens Switch Review – Metroidvania at its Finest

The Shantae series is a Metroidvania style game with an emphasis on story about a half genie called Shantae who can transform into the form of animals and attacks by whipping her hair. It had extremely humble origins, starting out as a little heard of late blooming Gameboy Color game: Shantae. It first gained some real notice with the DSi exclusive sequel 8 years later as a self published title after failing to find publishers for other sequels: Shantae: Risky’s Revenge. This was followed by the outstanding Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse on 3DS and WiiU, finally a Shantae game was available to the masses on a current gen console. The 4th game Shantae: Half Genie Hero was kickstarted before Pirate’s Curse had even been released and featured a beautiful new art direction creators and developers WayFoward have become known for. That leads to now Shantae and the Seven Sirens. 

Old favourites will be returning.

WayFoward nailed the gameplay, power ups, enemies, story, the whole shabang with Pirate’s Curse, Half Genie Hero looks stunning but missed that special something, that je ne sais quoi. So has the Seven Sirens merged the best of both from the two previous games? 

Shantae along with her usual crew are invited for a free holiday on Paradise Island for a half genie festival. Well if that’s not suspicious I don’t know what is. As soon as the festival is about to start the other half genies disappear leaving it up to Shantae to once again save the day by rescuing the other half genies and unravelling the mystery of the sunken city.

There’s a lot of areas the explore and re-explore as you unlock abilities.

Seven Sirens is a return to Shantae’s roots. The overworld of ½ Genie Hero is gone instead we’re back to interconnected Metroidvania style labyrinths with dungeons dotted about, that are also labyrinths themselves. As you gain the all new power ups you’ll slowly be able to pass areas that were previously blocked off. 

What Seven Sirens does really well is take the best of all the previous Shantae games and build on it. There are both dances and abilities with the abilities taking the place of the animal transformations Shantae is famous for and dances interact with environmental objects. You buy a range of magic attacks and upgrades from item shops at a few towns including old favourites and new ones. The new abilities while in general not as awesome as the pirate abilities in Pirate’s Curse still give rise to new types of puzzles that are a nice change of pace and never frustrating and some transformations are super cool like the tortoise that can belly flop through stone and spin at dizzying speeds on its back.

Hero’s in a half shell.

New to this game are monster cards which are randomly dropped by enemies then 3 can be equipped each one giving a powerup to one of your abilities such as extra damage or speed in an animal form. There’s also nuggets hidden around the labyrinths that you can trade for special monster cards. Of the monsters themselves you’ll see many returning faces plus a whole host of new enemies giving a lot of variation to the different areas of the game.

Gotta catch ’em all.

I found Seven Sirens has more content and is slightly longer to complete than previous games. As usual in any Metroidvania game there’ll be an awful lot of backtracking but Seven Sirens makes this fairly straightforward with some teleporters and abilities that help you traverse the land quickly. 

The only problem with the backtracking is it’s not always clear where you’re meant to go next with nothing but a red exclamation mark above the head of the person you’re looking for, sometimes they’ll tell you clearly what to do and where you need to go but others it’ll be more cryptic and you might find yourself doing a lot of mindless searching. I’d like to be able to mark places on the map I want to come back to but a bigger problem is, if you don’t play for a while and forget exactly what you’re meant to be doing next you’ll have to explore every inch of the ever expanding map to find the one path you can now pass or the one character hiding in a house with a red exclamation mark above their head. It would be nice if you could turn hints or map markers on and off for if you get stuck or forget where you’re going next.

The defeat all the enemies in the room can get hectic.

Once you first complete the game there’s a few little challenges to give some replay value such as complete the game quickly but also finally WayFoward have added new game plus to a Shantae game. Unlike ½ Genie Hero this feels like a complete game without additional DLC although I already can’t wait DLC to hit Seven Sirens.

Seven Sirens features the same awesome art style of ½ Genie Hero but zoomed out, more akin to Pirate’s Curse view point. The new animal transformations and enemies all look superb however the environments look fairly similar and a little bland. There’s some really nice extremely short animated scenes before each boss and a very cool intro animation.

I love the designs of the bosses.

Parts of the soundtrack are extremely nostalgic, reminding me of previous Shantae games and parts bring a new flair. The sound effects are top notch as is the small amount of voice acting from Shantae’s constant grunts as she jumps around the labyrinths to the occasional voiced line of dialogue by Cristina Vee.

Shantae and the Seven Sirens really does bring the best of Shantae to the table. Every part of the game is fantastic, the platforming, the fighting, the story, the transformations, the music, the pace of the progression. It isn’t a difficult game but damn it’s fun. Is Seven Sirens Shantae’s best adventure yet? In my humble opinion; absolutely and after replaying parts of Pirate’s Curse and ½ Genie Hero I think only nostalgia would stop anyone from agreeing. 

Just keep swimming swimming swimming.

A huge thank you to WayFoward for providing the review code. Shantae and the Seven Sirens is available now on the Nintendo eShop for £25.19/€25.99/$27.99.

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