Shantae is Coming: An In-Depth Look at Where She’s Been

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November 7, 2012 by GEL

Nintendo Power recently announced Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse, slated for release as a downloadable title for the Nintendo 3DS. Who is Shantae? Why should anyone care? Let’s take a look at where she’s been at what she’s had to go through to get here.

Shantae is sort of the pet project of WayForward’s Matt Bozon and his wife. Originally thought up during the SNES days, the project came to fruition on the Gameboy Color. The game itself was a non-linear open world side-scroller (similar to a Metroidvania). However, Shantae pushed the system to its limits with gorgeous animation, layers of parallax, color pallet shifts, a huge world, and even a transparency effect of sorts! As such, it required the biggest GBC cart available with battery backed memory, making it expensive to publish.

The game was brought to many publishers for years, and all of them were saying the same things: ‘this game is really impressive, but a new IP is too risky and too expensive to publish.’

Eventually, Capcom picked it up. However, they took so long to publish it (we all remember Capcom was notoriously slow back then) that the Gameboy Advance was announced months before Shantae got released. Seeing how the GBA muddied the colors, WayForward took the game back and added a special feature that detects if it’s in a GBA, brightening the color pallet (as well as unlock a bonus room). It was the only game to ever have this feature.

The game launched at a price of $25. While it received rave reviews, its sales weren’t so hot. With practically no advertising, and a brand new system on the market, the game went largely ignored. It wasn’t until years later that it gained a cult following thanks to emulators. People began to take notice and actually try the game, discovering it to be a true gem. The title now sells for upwards of $100 on EBay and is one of the only Gameboy games to do so.

When the GBA launched, they planned the second title, Shantae Advance: Risky’s Revenge, and it immediately entered development. The game was in a fully playable state. However, no one was interested. The IP was practically unknown, and crippled by the poor sales of the original, they couldn’t get anyone to publish the game.

That was when the DSi Ware store emerged, and they had a means to publish the game themselves and as such announced Shantae: Risky’s Revenge as a 4 Episode DSi Ware download. They completely revamped gameplay and graphics from it’s GBA incarnation, but it was modified yet again because people complained about the necessity of purchasing separate installments. They instead made it one episode, condensing the plot and content in the process.

Still, the game hit, and it later ported to iPhone as well.

Now to Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse for the 3DS. Using sprites and missing content from the “lost episodes” of Risky’s Revenge, it looks to continue the story where it left off. I don’t want to spoil anything, but this one definitely seems to take the series in a different direction, focusing on items and weapons rather than magic and hair whipping.

Frankly, I’ll miss the belly dancing (assuming it doesn’t show up in a mini-game somewhere), but I am very excited about the promise of a new Shantae game. Looks like downloadable titles are the way to go for this series, and I hope to see many more in the future. Maybe even a console friendly download? After all, Wii-U is right around the corner.

One thought on “Shantae is Coming: An In-Depth Look at Where She’s Been

  1. khrisgolder says:

    Awesome article! I would’ve never thought twice about this game before reading it.

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