Shantae: Half-Genie Hero Articles RSS Feed | Shantae: Half-Genie Hero RSS Feed on en Launch Media Network WayForward Surprises Half-Genie Hero Fans With Jammies Mode Update Wed, 01 Aug 2018 09:21:15 -0400 Greyson Ditzler

Coming out of nowhere and surprising everybody, WayForward has released one final, free DLC campaign for Shantae: Half-Genie Hero, several months after the release of the game's Ultimate Edition. The added campaign is the new "Jammies Mode", which provides a new set of moves for Shantae and a re-written story.

"Jammies Mode" sees Shantae traversing Sequin Land in order to hand out invitations to her ultimate slumber party to everyone she knows, which she's hosting as a way of saying thank you to everyone for helping her on her journey. In this mode, Shantae has the ability to float on a dream cloud, bounce sleepy sheep across the screen, and pillow-fight enemies' pants off.

As yet another added surprise included with the update is a new Transformation Dance for Shantae, allowing her to transform into the tank Sophia III from Blaster Master Zero, in which Shantae made a cameo as DLC. The dance can be obtained from the game's snake merchant lady upon purchasing and trading in the Super Revive Dance

WayForward announced the free update for all versions of the game out of nowhere, and cited it as the team's way of saying "thank you" to everybody that supported the game throughout its long, extensive development process. The most recent update on the game's Kickstarter reads:

"Jammies Mode" is our way of saying [sic] THANK YOU to everyone who supported this campaign! We hope you’ll accept this gift, along with our warmest and most heartfelt appreciation for funding this project. We would never have made this game if it weren’t for you!

On behalf of our Backers, and with the cooperation of our partners at Xseed, Pqube, and Amuzio, we are launching this free content update today on all platforms, all versions, all over the world, to Backers and non-Backers. In this way we hope to spread your generosity to the next generation of Shantae fans!!

"Jammies Mode" and the optional Sophia III transformation dance are now available as free updates for all versions of Shantae: Half-Genie Hero. You can view a trailer for the "Shantae Summer Surprise" Down Below:

Shantae: Half-Genie Hero - Ultimate Edition Releases Today Tue, 08 May 2018 13:54:03 -0400 Greyson Ditzler

The Ultimate Edition of acclaimed Metroivania game Shantae: Half-Genie Hero has been released today on digital storefronts.

After a number of individual releases for DLC and free updates over the past few years, the final commercial edition of Shantae: Half-Genie Hero is digitally available on Switch, PS4, Xbox One, and Steam. The Shantae: Half-Genie Hero Ultimate Edition includes all of the DLC and content updates previously released for the game, as well as several pieces of content previously available only to backers of Kickstarter, including various costumes and the ability to transform into a Tinkerbat.

There is also a limited physical retail version of the game on Nintendo Switch, published by XSeed Games, dubbed the "Ultimate Day One Edition," which can be purchased while it lasts from WayForward's official site. This physical edition comes with a special case which contains the game, a 25-page manual, a soundtrack CD, and an art book.

Shantae: Half-Genie Hero was first released in 2016 following its successful funding campaign on Kickstarter, where it managed to meet about half of its projected stretch goals. This is the fourth game in the series, but it's the first to be made from the ground up for consoles rather than handhelds. It stars the eponymous Shantae, who has retrieved her genie transformation powers since her last adventure, and must now defend Sequin Land from a swath of new threats in order to help her uncle build a machine to protect her home of Scuttle Town.

Shantae's tale is the main story, but the Ultimate Edition also includes the additional DLC campaigns that add to the story, "Friends to the End" and "Pirate Queen's Quest," as well as the Costume Pack DLC, which allows the player to run through Shantae's adventure again with entirely new mechanics and tweaked plotlines and dialogue.

"Friends to the End" has Shantae's friends Sky, Bolo, and Rottytops working together and utilizing their unique abilities to save Shantae from her evil doppelganger Nega-Shantae, who has trapped Shantae in her own twisted memories.

"Pirate Queen's Quest" takes place in tandem with the main story, and has Shantae's rival Risky Boots traversing Sequin Land and laying the foundation for her evil plan, playing around with tools similar to the pirate gear from Shantae and the Pirate's Curse.

Shantae: Half-Genie Hero - Ultimate Edition is available now on Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One, and Steam. Be sure to stick with GameSkinny for all things Shantae, and let us know if you plan on picking it up!

Shantae: Half-Genie Hero Costume Pack DLC Release Date Confirmed Fri, 06 Apr 2018 14:17:11 -0400 Greyson Ditzler

WayForward has released a new trailer for the final DLC add-on to Shantae: Half-Genie Hero, which is set to be the final piece of DLC for the game, simply titled "Costume Pack." While the title of the DLC is simple, the DLC itself is much more than just new outfits for Shantae, as each costume comes with its own unique mechanics and alternative story modes to the main game. 

The pack contains three outfits/modes for Shantae. First, there's the ninja, which prioritizes swift movement and utilizing new techniques such as wall jumping, throwing stars, and short-range teleportation. There's the Beach Costume, which also comes with its own moves, that adds a new heat mechanic that necessitates that Shantae not stay in the sun too long without sunscreen or a quick duck in the shade, which adds a ticking clock element to the gameplay. Lastly, there's the Officer Costume, which pays direct homage to WayForward's Mighty Switch Force! series of puzzle games and allows Shantae to phase certain blocks in the environment in and out of existence as she hunts down escaped criminal hooligans.

These modes will also all have their own "what-if" storylines, with new dialogue and voice acting as well as different end-screens based on the player's item collection skills and speed in completing them. And similar to the previous "Friends to the End" DLC, players will be able to gradually level up the strength of Shantae's weapons in each mode as they progress. 

The "Costume Pack" DLC for Shantae: Half-Genie Hero will be available on all platforms on April 10. The DLC will be free to all the backers of the game, as all previous DLC was, and will be included in the full package of Shantae: Half-Genie Hero Ultimate Edition.

Shantae: Half-Genie Hero DLC "Friends to the End" Release Date Confirmed Fri, 08 Dec 2017 15:26:47 -0500 Greyson Ditzler

The recently announced DLC for Shantae: Half-Genie Hero, "Friends to the End," which will have the player taking control of Shantae's friends Sky, Bolo, and Rottytops, has been given an official trailer and a release date of December 12th. The expansion will have the player swapping between the three allies of Shantae on the fly, using their unique abilities to rescue their friend from her dark counterpart Nega-Shantae.

WayForward Technologies announced in the latest Kickstarter update for the game that the "Friends to the End" expansion will be released on December 12th to the public, and they are currently sending out codes of the DLC to backers of the game, though there has been a bit of confusion due to a temporary shortage of codes from WayForward's partners.

The trailer showed off a bit of gameplay for each of the three characters and demonstrated how the player can swap between the three on the fly in order to take on enemies and solve puzzles in a manner similar to games like TrineMystical Ninja Starring Goemon, and Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse. It was also revealed that the campaign will feature a few new levels not seen elsewhere in the main game or its other DLC, in which the team of tagalongs will navigate through nightmare worlds of Nega-Shantae's creation. 

If you'd like more details on the gameplay of "Friends to the End," then you can check out our article about the expansion or head to the expansion's Kickstarter page.

Shantae: Half-Genie Hero Ultimate Edition Announced for Switch Retail Thu, 21 Sep 2017 13:40:51 -0400 Greyson Ditzler

Video game publisher XSEED Games announced yesterday that Shantae: Half-Genie Hero will not only be getting a physical release on the Nintendo Switch, but that it will also be the first release of Shantae: Half-Genie Hero Ultimate Edition.  

XSEED claimed that not only will the Ultimate Edition contain the recently released Pirate Queen's Quest campaign mode for Risky Boots, but it will also contain the upcoming character DLC for the Sky, Bolo, and Rottytops. The statement also contained the first bit of news in a long while regarding the alternate costume modes for Shantae that were promised during the original Kickstarter.

XSEED made the announcement on their Facebook, stating that:

"Not only that, the Ultimate Edition will come with 'Friends Mode' and 'Costume Mode'! In Friends Mode, Shantae’s pals Sky, Bolo, and Rottytops must survive Shantae’s Nightmare and save their friend from doom, while Costume Mode provides three new arcade-style adventures; Dash, slash, and teleport as Ninja Shantae, work on your tan as Beach Shantae, or alter the level around you ‘Mighty Switch Force’ style as Officer Shantae!"

There isn't any information yet about the game's release date, nor any specifics regarding the not-yet released character DLC -- but XSEED promised that more details will be revealed in the near future. You can stay up to date with announcements from XSEED by following them on Facebook and Twitter.

Shantae: Half-Genie Hero DLC "Friends to the End" Announced Sat, 04 Nov 2017 17:58:41 -0400 Greyson Ditzler

WayForward Technologies has officially announced and revealed details for the next DLC expansion to Shantae: Half-Genie Hero, titled "Friends to the End", and it will revolve around playing as the characters of Sky, Bolo, and Rottytops.

Friends to the End stars Shantae's friends at a point towards the end of Half-Genie Hero's plot, where Shantae is overcome by a dark and sinister force that is keeping her mentally and physically incapacitated, and they are tasked with running through her memories -- consisting of re-worked levels from the game of course -- in order to break through the dark magic and free their friend. This will fill in a missing piece of the narrative that was addressed in the base game of Half-Genie Hero, but was kind of glossed over.

Each of the three characters will have completely different mechanics and play-styles, and the player has a great deal of liberty in how they'd like to approach each level and who with. On top of this, the design structure of Friends to the End is rather different from either of the play-styles shown off in Half-Genie Hero so far. The Kickstarter update for the expansion goes into some detail about the differences, stating that: 

From a design perspective, Friends to the End differs from Shantae and Risky’s modes in that the power up system exists “in the field”. There are no menus or inventory to manage. Collecting Gems will cause a hero to LEVEL UP, increasing their attack speed and damage dealt. Getting hit by enemies incurs a penalty, dropping the power level. Enemies and Bosses have been tailored around these new concepts, dropping health and Gems to feed the player’s needs. You could say that "Friends to the End" is part puzzle game, part action game, and part player management.


In terms of release date or gameplay footage we didn't get much information. We do know for sure that the development of Friends to the End is complete, and that the game is currently under review for release by the people at Nintendo, Sony, Microsoft, and Valve, which may see it releasing some time this Holiday season. We also know that like the previous DLC expansion, Pirate Queen's Curse, Friends to the End will be free to all Kickstarter backers of the game and will be paid content for everyone else.

As it stands right now, Shantae: Half-Genie Hero is available now on PC, Xbox One, PS4, PlayStation Vita, Wii U, and Nintendo Switch. If you are interested in learning more about "Friends to the End" then click here to view the update on the game's Kickstarter page.

11 Best Current and Upcoming Indie Games for the Nintendo Switch Wed, 23 Aug 2017 13:16:47 -0400 Greyson Ditzler


That wraps up our list! As much as we tried, we couldn't fit in every indie darling that we wanted to. But hopefully you've found at least one game that you can enjoy on your Nintendo Switch console. 


Don't see an indie gem that you think deserves a spot on this list? Let us know down in the comments! 



TBA 2018

Fe is an oddly titled platform adventure game where you play as a small wolf-cub-like creature and sing to interact with a "living, breathing ecosystem".


It has a bright, cool color palette that's reminiscent of games like CreaVures or Ori and the Blind Forest, and appears to be based heavily in exploration. We don't know much about it yet -- but if the trailer is anything to go by, it looks as though it will be an interesting take on the adventure genre, and provide players with a new fantasy world to really fall in love with.


This game is definitely worth keeping an eye on if you're looking for more adventures to experience on your Nintendo Switch.


Battle Chef Brigade


I've already written a lot about the upcoming Battle Chef Brigade, so I'll do my best to not repeat myself. Battle Chef Brigade combines elements of Monster HunterOdin Sphere, and Bejeweled into one game, then frames it all with gorgeous hand-drawn animation that depicts a fantasy world cooking competition akin to Iron Chef. 


The player is expected to go out into the field and slay beasts to collect magical plants and forage the best and freshest of ingredients. They must then cook them into a delicious meal by playing a match-two puzzle game, all while taking into account the judge's tastes and the time limit.


The game promises four different playable characters -- all of whom have different storylines that intersect with each other, as well as their own special abilities to utilize on the field. Battle Chef Brigade has one of the most appealing premises I've heard for a game in years. And based on what we've seen so far, it looks as thought it'll turn out to be quite the treat. 


Thimbleweed Park

September 2017

Thimbleweed Park is the most recent adventure game from veteran game developer Ron Gilbert, best known for his involvement in LucasArts adventure games (including the first two games in the Monkey Island series and Maniac Mansion). Thimbleweed Park is a sort of spiritual successor to those games, sporting a pixelated retro-computer artstyle, the same user interface as most classic LucasArts point-and-click games, and several playable characters.  


The gameplay is traditional point-and-click fare -- examine the environment, find an item, read the humorous text description, and then try and figure out what goes where as you follow the storylines of each individual character. You also have the ability to switch between the five playable characters at will during gameplay, which grants the player a lot of expedience in how they want to proceed with the story. Each character is vastly different in personality, which makes each of their stories entertaining for different reasons.


Thimbleweed Park is a high quality classic adventure game that will feel right at home on the Switch. 


Hollow Knight

TBD 2017

Hollow Knight is a 2D Metroidvania-style platformer that tells the tale of the titular Hollow Knight, who must traverse an ancient series of all-but abandoned ruins of a once mighty civilization. It's among the more slowly paced Metroidvania games out there, but in the end this works in its favor, creating an expertly crafted gaming experience that owes a great deal of its inspiration to Dark Souls and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night.


The cutesy hand-drawn art-style and the insect-centric aesthetic help to emphasize a grand sense of scale and curious awe that the game's exploration sets up from the start. The average Metroidvania game will start you off with little and gradually reward your hard work with more tools and abilities -- but among games like these, Hollow Knight is an exemplary title.


Every single room feels like progress and every boss defeated is a triumph as you slowly but surely grow more and more powerful and unravel the story behind the crumbled kingdom around you. It's a game of many emotions as well -- often conveying much while saying very little, and manipulating the player's sense of security and tugging their heart-strings through its limited dialogue, music, and visuals.



TBD 2017

The familiar yet fresh spiritual successor to Banjo-Kazooie that is Yooka-Laylee will be coming to Switch in the near future -- and it could not be on a more appropriate platform. Considering the classic Rareware Nintendo 64 roots that this game has, as well as the many dedicated platforming fans that exist among the Switch's audience, it's hard not to see Yooka-Laylee arriving on the Switch as a homecoming of sorts.


While the collect-a-thon style of gameplay may not be for everybody, Yooka-Laylee executes that style particularly well. While there are only five main worlds in addition to the hub-world, they are all creatively designed on top of being whimsically themed, and absolutely stuffed to the gills with different collectibles to find and tons of fun and varied ways to get them.


The Switch version also promises to be the most complete version of the game to date. The Switch version will launch with the "Spit 'n' Polish Update" already installed, which addresses a number of issues that some players took with the game. That means it's the ideal port for people who were on the fence about the game after hearing it's divided response and held off on trying it until now.


Yooka-Laylee was a good game already, but it will be better on the Switch.


Shantae: Half-Genie Hero

Available Now

Shantae: Half-Genie Hero is the most recent entry in the Shantae series, as well as an excellent comedic Metroidvania-style platformer -- and it may also be best experienced on the Switch more than anywhere else.


This game is a great time no matter what platform you play it on. But of all the various options available, there are more reasons to buy the Switch port than any other. First off, it's a better portable version than the PlayStation Vita version due to the Switch's much bigger screen size, which truly becomes crucial at points when visibility is key. 


The second major bonus to the Switch version of the game is its love of utilizing the controller's HD Rumble feature. WayForward was so excited to use the feature in the game that they marketed it as a selling point.


This port really takes full advantage of the Switch's exotic features, but never in a gimmicky way that interrupts the flow of gameplay. Shantae: Half-Genie Hero on the Switch is the best way to play an already great game.


Wonder Boy: The Dragon's Trap

Available Now

Wonder Boy: The Dragon's Trap is a remake of the original Wonder Boy III: The Dragon's Trap, but with more polished core gameplay, slightly tweaked mechanics, and the option to switch between the game's expressive hand-drawn style and the pixelated aesthetic of the original.


The Dragon's Trap shines through with its charming visuals, catchy soundtrack, and polished classic gameplay, making it a game that both fans of the original as well as newcomers can enjoy. If you enjoy a good platformer you're bound to like this one -- it's got multiple animal forms with different abilities to play around with, simple RPG elements with its different armor and weapons, and its general old-school charm.


Wonder Boy: The Dragon's Trap is a solid remake, a solid platformer, and an all-around good time that's easily worth the $20 price tag.



Available Now

Thumper is unlike pretty much any other rhythm game out there, and describes itself much better than I think I ever could:


"Thumper is rhythm violence: classic rhythm action, blistering speed, and brutal physicality. You are a space beetle. Brave the hellish void and confront a maniacal giant head from the future."


This rhythm game has more than a dash of violence, as well as an oppressive, threatening, percussion-heavy soundtrack that goes hand-in-hand with the otherworldly and sometimes frightening visuals. It's a game that's all gameplay, while still managing to feel more like an experience of some sort than a conventional game. You should definitely look into Thumper if you'd like to play a rhythm game that breaks the mold of classic rock and energetic pop songs.



Available Now

GoNNER is a procedurally-generated 2D platformer where you jump around and shoot everything as the "altruistic" Ikk looking to find the perfect gift for his friend Sally the whale. It's a basic game, but executed very well -- and the gameplay is backed up by a variety of weapons, colorful and bombastic visuals, and an atmospheric yet blood-pumping soundtrack. 


It's the kind of game you can play for five minutes or five hours if you want, which makes it a perfect fit for the pick-up-and-play nature of the Switch. It's also a surprisingly lengthy experience for the low price of $10. GoNNER is a trippy, fun, action-packed game with lots of bright colors and plinky-plonky sound effects, which all make it easy to recommend.  



Available Now

Odds are if you own a Switch, you've at least heard of Snipperclips. It was a launch title for the system that a lot of people bought just to have something to play -- which ultimately works out for everyone anyway, because the game is actually pretty great.


Snipperclips is a 1-4 player co-op puzzle game that involves playing as 2-4 paper characters who must work together to solve a series of logic and physics puzzles -- whether that puzzle be guiding a gerbil up a ramp, or dunking a basketball. Teamwork is key in this game, as you must literally use each other to succeed -- whether that be by using your partner as a platform, or overlapping your body with theirs and cutting them into whatever shape they need to be. 


It's a great game both for people who want to work together, as well as people who just want to grief each other. There a number of competitive modes alongside the main 2-player campaign, such as basketball and a first-to-three battle mode. You can also just endlessly cut each other to ribbons and re-spawn infinitely in the main mode, which is just fun to do.


Snipperclips is accessible, genuinely head-scratching at times, packed with charm, and just all around a great way to spend an afternoon with friends.


The Jackbox Party Pack 3 

Available Now

Let's start this list off with something anyone can enjoy. Jackbox Party Pack 3 is the third installment in the Jackbox party game series and probably the best. It's a collection of multiplayer games meant to crack up their players -- some of which can host up to 8 players with only one controller, as long as they have something else to access the internet with.


All you need to play most of these games is a phone, tablet, or laptop of some kind, an internet connection for the Switch, and some creativity. All five of the packaged games are simple, quality games that require constant player input.


Here's the rundown of all 5 games you'll get in this Party Pack: 

  • Trivia Murder PartyAnswer trivia questions in a life-or-death comedy parody of horror movie sequels. 
  • \n
  • Fakin' ItLie to your friends and try to shift guilt onto your teammates in order to save your own skin -- even if you're innocent. 
  • \n
  • GuesspionageA game of governmental surveillance that questions you about how many people do certain things, then makes you guess what percentage of people do/don't do these things. 
  • \n
  • Tee K.O.A delightful mess that has you create images and slogans for t-shirts, which are then randomly handed out to all players so they can try and make the best or funniest shirts from what they're given. If there's one shirt you really love, you can have it custom-made for purchase through the Jackbox website.
  • \n
  • Quiplash 2: Players are asked a variety of questions, write a punchline for each answer, and judge each other's answers to decide which is funniest. It's the perfect game for groups of friends with creative and dirty minds. 
  • \n

Jackbox Party Pack 3 is simply one of the best party games available right now, especially on the Switch. No matter what kind of audience you've got it's virtually guaranteed to be a crowd-pleaser.


The Nintendo Switch has been garnering an excited user-base since its launch earlier this year, and for a number of good reasons. One of those reasons is how attractive the Switch is as a platform for ports, smaller games, and indie titles. But now that developers are rushing to create games for this new console, it's getting a little difficult to sort through all the current and upcoming indie titles to find the ones that are really worth your time. 


But that's okay -- we've done the work for you and rounded up nearly a dozen of the best indie games that are on the system right now, along with some gems coming later down the line. It's a pretty diverse set of games that we'll be showing off here, so there's something on this list for every kind of Switch gamer. 

Shantae: Half-Genie Hero Coming to Nintendo Switch This Summer Fri, 12 May 2017 13:20:47 -0400 Greyson Ditzler

WayForward Technologies' 2D Metroidvania platformer Shantae: Half-Genie Hero, the most recent installment in the Shantae series, has been confirmed for the Nintendo Switch and set to release this Summer.

WayForward has given a few details about the game, such as the expected launch window of Summer and the promise of incorporating the Switch's HD rumble feature into the game. Based on the announcement poster for the Switch port, and it's tag-line, "Feel the beat this Summer", the HD rumble capability may be integrated into the rhythm of Shantae's dancing, among other places. 

Details on the actual release of the game were given on the company's Twitter, with the promise of more details somwhere down the line: 

Shantae: Half-Genier Hero is currently available for a number of platforms in conjunction with the Switch, including the Wii U, Xbox One, PS4, and PC. For an expanded look at the game itself, you can read our review here.

Shantae: Half-Genie Hero DLC Campaign "Pirate Queen's Quest" Announced Wed, 14 Jun 2017 19:24:12 -0400 Greyson Ditzler

Shantae: Half-Genie Hero, the quirky and colorful Metroidvania game that came from WayForward Technologies last year, has had its first additional DLC character campaign announced.

The campaign will feature a new story that with the Shantae series' recurring antagonist Risky Boots attempting to conquer Sequin Land, using her variety of pirate tools and crew members to advance through the game's levels, leading up to the evil plan that Shantae is meant to stop. WayForward has said in prior statements regarding this update that Risky will have a playstyle similar to that of Shantae and the Pirate's Curse, which involved a series of quickly accessible tools, rather than Shantae's slower animal transformation dances.

The game will also be playable at the XSeed booth at E3 2017, according to WayForward's official Twitter:   

Shantae: Half-Genie Hero - Pirate Queen's Curse is currently planned for release on all platforms sometime this summer. A price has not yet been revealed, but as promised in the Kickstarter, this DLC, as well as all future DLC, will be free to backers.

If you would like to see more details regarding Pirate Queen's Quest, then you can read the whole update on the Half-Genie Hero Kickstarter page here.

7 Best Platformers From the Last Year That You Haven't Heard Of Mon, 30 Jan 2017 01:44:44 -0500 Bryant Pereira

The indie game revolution revived genres of games that were beginning to lose their mass appeal -- namely platformers. With the popularity of Steam and digital downloads on consoles, platformer games started releasing in huge numbers again. The genre stopped being dominated by names like Nintendo and fans embraced the creativity of smaller studios.

Last year was no different, with some of the best platformers of the decade releasing. It doesn’t take much digging to find out about the hottest titles like Inside and Super Mario Run, but if you’re jumping for joy at the idea of playing some of the best platformers of 2016, look no more.


Headlander is easily the most unconventional game on this list. It jumbles Metroid with old school sci-fi movies like Alien and puts you in control of a floating head. Yes, a platformer game where you don’t necessarily jump everywhere, but you fly through the levels in order to take control of robot bodies to make your own.

The theme in Headlander is unique, and under the creative umbrella of Double Fine and Adult Swim, this comes to no surprise. Robot enemies and NPC’s are former humans who uploaded their consciousness’ into what is called the Pleasure Dome. I’ll let your imagination figure the rest of that out.

The gameplay in Headlander is completely new yet familiar at the same time. Bodies are essentially different weapons, and you can upgrade your helmet in different ways like in other Metroidvania games. You can infinitely fly throughout the levels but must collide into enemies to decapitate them and take their bodies. The game mixes aesthetic, humor, and fun gameplay to make a remarkable experience.


Teku Studios from Spain wanted to make an impact on the indie scene with their debut game. Candle is a slow-paced, stealthy platformer.  Named after the studio, the story follows a young man named Teku who is on a quest to save his shaman apprentice. The soothing narration along with the beautiful hand-drawn watercolor graphics make the entire game feel like you're in a living painting.

Teku is not a speedy or powerful protagonist like in many other platformers. He instead focuses on stealth elements to combat enemies along with using his trusty candle. Teku uses his candle to illuminate new areas or overcome challenges, but the flames do not last forever. Sources of light must be uncovered and used, and sometimes the candle must be blown out in order to advance.

Candle's unique gameplay and alluring visuals are accompanied by a distinctive Spanish theme. The indigenous culture is apparent in the towns and characters and they blend excellently with the international style music. Candle is a relatively obscure game, with most of its reviews coming from foreign critics and websites. There may not be a lot of press coverage out there for Candle, but it is definitely a game to keep an eye out for.


Jumping on the success of games like Journey and The Unfinished Swan, Bound immerses us into a narrative that’s more about the atmosphere and art than gameplay. The protagonist sways through levels gracefully dancing from platform to platform. The controls are simple and the enemies do not pose a significant threat, but the world of Bound is a story of its own.

Interpretation is key in dance and in Bound. The game uses its mechanics to key players in on what is actually happening, leaving much of the story up to the player’s interpretation. The main plot is similar to a basic fairy tale, but the undertones and environment tell a story of their own of a woman who imagined a whole new world to better understand her own.

Bound's colorful landscape, majestic movement, and unique alternate paths keep players eyes glued to the screen and immersed in the beautiful world. The gameplay could use some more variety, and the dances themselves could have some more impact in the game, but Bound does an excellent job of promoting the fusion of art and games.


A tiny gem in a sea of AAA titles and 3D games, BoxBoxBoy combines simplicity with a quirky theme to make one of the best downloadable 3DS games. Brought to life from the creators of Kirby and Super Smash Bros., BoxBoxBoy follows the tale of our adorable box-shaped hero, Qbby in his second adventure.

Qbby uses his abilities to create boxes out of his body in order to press switches, build platforms, and block laser beams in order to reach his destination. Following the formula of the original BoxBoy, the sequel takes the only logical route -- add more boxes.

With two sets of boxes, the complexity and variety of puzzles increase exponentially. The game also enlists a limit to how many boxes you can use in order to collect the elusive crowns in the game. Each level presents challenges that are not made for trial and error, but rather solved through planned out strategies. BoxBoxBoy offers a number of different costumes you can dress Qbby in and also has a number of challenging post-game levels. For less than 5 bucks, BoxBoxBoy is a must-have on the 3DS.

Salt and Sanctuary

Commonly referred to as the 2D Dark Souls, Salt and Sanctuary is no ordinary platformer. The influence is immediately recognizable and the harsh gameplay it dishes out is just as hard as its seminal games’. Players take control of a hero who must roll to dodge enemies, memorize attack patterns, and die over and over again in order to make any progress.

The customization in Salt and Sanctuary is through the roof. Ska Studios boasts over 600 weapons, armor, spells, and items -- many of which can be crafted and upgraded. However, the game starts you off with essentially nothing, forcing players to patiently work for that big number. The game never explicitly directs you to your destination or has an overarching storyline. Everything is learned through gameplay and lore scattered throughout items and the sparse NPCs the game has to offer.

Although the game borrows heavily from the Souls series and JRPG leveling systems, the game plays very much like a Metroidvania game. Aside from fighting, there are some challenging platforming sections that are inaccessible until certain moves are learned. Revisiting areas to find weapons and fight more enemies is a common occurrence.

Shantae: Half-Genie Hero

Reminiscent of old-school 90’s platformers and cartoons, Shantae: Half-Genie Hero’s vibrant graphics and funky soundtrack give the impression of an HD Sega Genesis game. The traditional side-scrolling levels are quick and full of explorable areas that are chock-full of collectibles to find. The musical direction is apparent the entire game, as Shantae dances to transform into different animals. Each animal enables different abilities Shantae can use to access different areas within levels and traverse over areas.

The game has a central town where you can purchase items, talk to NPCs, and most importantly, take on side missions that reward Shantae with new animal transformations. Outside of the town is a pulsating world of steaming deserts, riddled pirate ships, and tranquil temples. The cheery music and brightly colored hand-drawn art are a pleasure throughout the whole game.

Similar to Kirby games, Half-Genie Hero is not a difficult game in terms of defeating enemies. The monsters throughout the game won’t have patterned attacks like in Salt and Sanctuary and will more than likely walk back and forth and sprint towards you when startled. The real fun in the game is the experimentation of abilities, exploration of the beautiful levels, and the cleverly designed boss fights.


This list is for the best platformers you haven’t heard of yet, and although Owlboy is gushed over by critics everywhere, its long development cycle may have put it under the radar for many. Developed over 8 years, Owlboy is an old-school platformer for the new age of games. The pixel art is as perfect as any can get. Everything from the subtle movements of characters to the distinctly detailed design immediately draws attention to the game.

The presentation alone is enough to suck players in, but what really keeps them in is the gameplay. Owlboy’s main character Otus is extremely limited by himself as he can only roll, spin, and fly. However, Otus teams up with his friends to form differing ways to fight enemies. Defeating enemies creatively is rewarded with treasure, and Otus’ unique friends make every level feel fresh and new.

Everything from the level design to the music, to the sob-inducing story, is top notch. Don’t just take my word for it, though, look online at the raving reviews, or check it out for yourself to get engrossed in a real work of art.

Last year proved to be a quite the year for platformers, and 2017 is promising to be equally as good. Before starting a new adventure in anticipated games like Yooka-Laylee and Super Mario Odyssey, jump into one of last years best platformers to hold you over.

Shantae: Half-Genie Hero Review -- Another Strong Installment In A Great Series Sat, 17 Dec 2016 09:47:54 -0500 Greyson Ditzler

Shantae: Half-Genie Hero is the fourth installment in the long-running Shantae series, and comes to us from WayForward Technologies, the venerable independent developer responsible for games like Double Dragon Neon, DuckTales: Remastered and A Boy and His Blob. 

The physical versions of Half-Genie Hero were also published by XSEED Games (now known as Marvelous USA). 

The game was a product of a Kickstarter by WayForward launched back in 2013, and it surpassed it's goal of $400K with a total of nearly $950K while also reaching most of its stretch goals. It is the first entry in the series made for consoles, and likely set to be the largest in the series so far, with two main campaigns to play through and character DLC coming later down the pipeline.

The questions are: Has this jump to more advanced tech benefited the series, can it surpass the previous entries in the series and was the Kickstarter success warranted? 

Let's dance through the danger and find out.

The Superb Simplicity of Shantae's Structure

Shantae: Helf-Genie Hero is, like the three previous games in the Shantae series, a 2D Platformer with elements of Metroidvania. You jump around, collect items and whip enemies with your hair as has always been the case.

There are five main worlds to tackle, all linear platforming stages loaded with secrets and collectibles, and there is a hub-world in the form of Scuttle Town, where you go to buy items, talk to people and further the plot in between levels.

Like previous installments, Shantae: Half-Genie Hero involves a lot of exploration, item collecting and backtracking. The game's world as a whole is similar in size if slightly larger than that of Shantae and the Pirate's Curse, which means it's decently sized and packed with secrets. But thankfully, big changes have been made to traveling in Half-Genie Hero that make back-tracking much less of a hassle (see below). 

From Scuttle Town you travel to the world map where you then choose where you want to go among the levels you've unlocked, and you also get a tally of how many of the hidden collectibles you've found in each level, so you can easily track your progression. 

Shantae and Sky selecting a stage on the World Map.

You are also given a whistle near the start of the game that allows you to exit any level at any time and take you back to the World Map. This removes the need for backtracking to town that was handled less effectively in the previous titles.

Each level is divided into segments, each separated by a save screen that acts as a checkpoint if you get a game over. In addition to the whistle, you also get access early on to a dance that allows you to warp between the starts of the segments of levels you've already completed.

This makes traveling around Sequin Land easier than it ever has been, not to mention more enjoyable. 

In terms of mechanics, as is typical of the Shantae series, WayForward nails the basic and introduces great new elements while ditching the older, more negative ones. The controls are enjoyably tight and responsive, and the strategies and abilities required in the diverse array of situations that the game presents allow for constant variety in challenge and gameplay.

One moment you could be leaping between flying carpets in a brief auto-scrolling level that ends with a boss fight against two airships, and the next moment you could be going on a quest for a sword to give to some snooty guy in order to get a silly hat for an elderly Blobfish (no, seriously).

 Shantae using the fully upgraded fire spell - The flamethrower.

And while the levels are, somewhat disappointingly, the typical selection of Shantae locations with only a few surprises, they are still visually diverse as well as excellently designed around Shantae's basic abilities.

On that note, returning from the first two Shantae titles are her magical transformation dances, which allow her to transform into a wide assortment of animals.

Throughout the course of the story campaign, Shantae is rewarded with a new animal transformation at the end of each chapter, as well as a few optional ones available for purchase and some scattered around the world. These all provide her with new abilities to bypass specific obstacles and do things that the vanilla Shantae cannot.

These range from classic fan-favorites, like the high-jumping gap-shooting monkey, to new transformations such as the crab for underwater platforming and secret searching, and the mouse for navigating tiny maze-like passages.

Crab Shantae gently floating between exploding mine enemies.

Additionally, there are many different upgrades for these forms (both optional and required), and the act of finding and using them all when they're needed just adds another layer of enjoyment to exploring the world.

Admittedly, some of these abilities don't end being used very often and could have been fleshed out into more major mechanics, but even then nothing is useless and everything is utilized to its full potential at least once.

The Biggest New Addition to Gameplay

The largest change to Half-Genie Hero's gameplay from the previous titles in the series is in the form of the new customizable magic and relic system. Returning from Shantae: Risky's Revenge are the magic bar and staple magic attacks, such as the storm puff and bubble shield.

These optional in-game purchases allow Shantae to attack from a distance in a variety of ways or defend herself from different forms of attacks. They also all each have a number of upgrades that incrementally make them all progressively more powerful and diversified. 

On top of these magical attacks, there are a number of helpful relics that act as power-ups that can be both found and purchased throughout the game. Their uses range from speeding up the time of your transformation dances to reducing the damage you take by half.

But the truly interesting thing about them, that also works in tandem with the magical spells, is that they are completely optional, and can, in fact, have their effects switched on and off from the pause menu.

 Managing relics on the pause screen.

This offers both a great deal of customization in how the player wants to upgrade Shantae and approach combat and acts as the game's difficulty settings.

While Half-Genie Hero is not an easy game, it is rarely ever very hard, and so those looking for an additional challenge will be expected to impose it on themselves. By enabling some relics, or by going out of their way to avoid health upgrades, the player essentially chooses their own difficulty level.

If you so desire, you can collect all upgrades and steamroll the final boss like you've got cheat codes on, or you can ignore them all and struggle through an immensely challenging yet rewarding campaign. The choice is yours. 

The Song and Dance of Shantae's Presentation

Aesthetically speaking, Shantae: Half-Genie Hero is clean, cute, colorful and charming in its craftsmanship.

The use of 2D hand-drawn characters in the foreground against 3D environments is effective at creating a distinct look, and it does a good job of bringing the classic pixel aesthetic of the series' past into a new cartoonish style.

Shantae fighting Tinkerslug, the first boss.

As is typical of WayForward, the animations are impressive and fluid, the characters are all emotive in their actions, and the whole world feels alive through the simple details of things like rising chests and rustling clothes.

The writing and dialogue are also as strong as ever. The conversations between characters can range from serious to confrontational to often outright hilarious, which makes all the characters feel unique from one another as well as add to the game's immersion factor.

Half-Genie Hero's soundtrack is done, once again, by series-veteran composer Jake Kaufman. Each track is perfectly fitting for each stage and important story moment (it might even be worth shelling out some extra cash for the "Risky Beats" edition of the game that comes with the soundtrack on CD).

The soundtrack is less midi than previous games' and actually utilizes a variety of real instruments, from saxophone to bass guitar, and occasionally mixes the two genres together to create a very unique sound.

The story of Half-Genie Hero is nothing amazing as far as platformers go, but it still has plenty of charming and comedic moments, with a few bits of characteristic tenderness sprinkled throughout.

While there is an overarching goal that moves the plot forward, involving Shantae collecting parts for her Uncle Mimic's new invention, each world and their respective required visit back has their own villain to defeat and conflict to conquer.

All of these elements, combined with the colorful hand-drawn visuals, makes each of the main chapters feel like an episode of some sort, like a Shantae cartoon show. 

This does mean that the story is a bit less rigidly structured and character focused than Shantae and the Pirate's Curse, which may be disappointing to some fans, but rest assured that the plot is still solid and gives a decent amount of attention to Shantae's friends, as well as peanut gallery of newcomers. 

On top of this, the game runs flawlessly even on low-end PCs, allowing the smooth graphics and animations (with a buttery frame-rate) to be enjoyed by nearly anyone.

How Much There Is Here (And What's to Come)

An average player could likely beat Half-Genie Hero in around 5-6 hours -- if they weren't going out of their way to collect everything -- while players going for 100% might take upwards of 7 hours. 

The overall length of the game isn't bad, as the story is fully told and the mechanics all fully explored within that time, but as a sequel, it's a bit pokey.

The previous installment Shantae and the Pirate's Curse was only slightly shorter in an average playthrough, but as a sequel made from the ground-up for consoles, it only seems right that it would be noticeably larger.

Then again, seeing as how this is almost certainly due to how much funding the main campaign got through the Kickstarter, it can't really be helped, and it would be unfair to call it an oversight.

Shantae creator Matt Bozon has stated that unmet stretch goals from the Kickstarter could be added later if the game does well enough, but it's just a possibility and only time will tell.

This criticism may also end up becoming moot in the near future, as WayForward does have a free campaign planned for Shantae's arch nemesis in the works.

Her campaign will supposedly utilize entirely new mechanics in the form of "tinker tools" that function similarly to the upgrades in Shantae and the Pirate's Curse, will be about as long as Shantae's campaign, and will be a free update.

On top of that, due to hitting their $900K stretch goal, WayForward will also later be releasing shorter campaigns for the characters Sky, Bolo and Rottytops, all of which will have their own storyline and unique gameplay mechanics.

However, unlike the Risky Boots campaign, these will be released as payed DLC. As of this writing, no price or release date for them has been announced. 


In conclusion...

Half-Genie Hero is a prime example of a Kickstarter-funded game that actually lived up to the excitement it generated, rather than disappointing fans and the general public with an unimpressive product that we could have simply gone on living without. It's a game that's clearly a labor of love, as evidence has shown each Shantae game has been, and WayForward's passion for their work is something they wear on their sleeves.

Shantae: Half-Genie Hero is a splendid 2D Platformer packed with enough charm and new ideas to make the 6-7 hours it will take to beat it worth every second of gameplay and every dollar spent.

Judging it solely on what content is present at the moment, and ignoring, for now, the promises of what's to come, Shantae: Half-Genie Hero is worth your time and money if you're looking for a great 2D platformer -- or just a fun game in general. 

Shantae: Half-Genie Hero will be available for digital download on December 20th for Wii U, Xbox One, PS4, PS Vita, and PC. Physical copies of Half-Genie Hero will be available for PS4 and PS Vita on December 20th and for Wii U on December 27th. 

You can also check out the game's official website for more information. 

9 of the Most Interesting Games from PAX West 2016 Wed, 07 Sep 2016 06:08:52 -0400 Greyson Ditzler


Battle Chef Brigade

Trinket Studios

Battle Chef Brigade was truly one of the most original games present at PAX. It is a bold combination of genres that was clearly made from a desire to create a game that the developers themselves wanted to play. Mainly because it just didn't exist already. It combines elements and mechanics from classic beat-em ups, hunting games, shape-matching puzzle games, RPGs, and of course, cooking games.


What truly sets Battle Chef Brigade apart from other cooking games, and most other games with any sort of crafting system, is the ability to go off recipe. Every cooking battle does have a theme ingredient, as well often a particular element that the judge wants highlighted, but other than that, the player is completely free to use whatever available ingredients they want. You can end up with many different-looking dishes by the time that you complete cooking battle, and there are dozens of different ways to get to those different results, and it's all up to what the player chooses to do. Surrounding this freedom of choice is solid core gameplay packed with a swath of different mechanics.


Battle Chef Brigade is set in a world of fantasy, where its cast of playable characters are all competing in an Iron Chef inspired cooking competition, and all the ingredients are collected from plants and monsters surrounding the kitchen arena that the player themselves must kill with beat-em-up style combat. In order too actually cook the ingredients, the player must then play match-three puzzle game in order to make more room in the pot and rack up a higher score on each dish to impress the judge(s). In between matches there are NPCs to talk to, cooking and combat upgrades to buy, and story to take in; so the game offers just a little bit of everything.


The game is expected to have a five hour campaign on average for each playable chef, and with four different chefs with different storylines and play-styles, the game is expected to have a robust playtime at around 20 total hours. Add on top of all of this storylines for each chef which occasionally overlap, a gorgeously animated anime artstyle, and a great soundtrack, Battle Chef Brigade could very well end up being one of the best games released next year. 


What were some of the most interesting games you saw at PAX this year? Let me know in the comments below!


Night In The Woods

Infinite Fall

They could have called this game "Chilling with Your Friends Simulator" and it would have been just as accurate of a title. Night in the Woods is a game which intends to prioritize narrative and characters over gameplay, much like games such as Gone Home and The Stanley Parable. However, among other games that emphasize story over everything else, Night in the Woods still has more gameplay than most of its contemporaries.


What gameplay is there is pretty scattershot, and exists in a vast minority to walking around and talking to people. But it is all fun to do, and much more traditional in nature compared to the average walking simulator type game. In the hour of Night in the Woods that was shown off at PAX there was a Guitar Hero style band practice with your pals, breaking flying light fixtures with a baseball bat, and even a shoplifting stealth section, all with plot relevance and different, intuitive control schemes.


When you aren't being a college dropout, you're exploring your home town by platforming across mailboxes and power-lines in order to find secrets and talk to people in order to build up the world around you. It is possible that the target audience for this game is somewhat limited by the modern-ish teenage mindset of the principal cast of characters, but it if you do fit into that same age group, you're likely to see a lot of your friends and possibly yourself in the protagonist Mae and her group of friends.


The real plot of the game didn't show itself very much in the demo, but there will be an overarching plot involving strange paranormal happenings involving the disappearance of people in the slowly shrinking town of Possum Springs, and Mae and her friends getting caught up in it. While the premise is admittedly very old-hat sounding and definitely been done before, there is a great deal of strength of writing shown in the very humorous and human dialogue -- so perhaps Night in the Woods could still re-invent the wheel on this one. 


Only time will tell how challenging or important the actual gameplay will be to the final product. But as it stands, Night in the Woods has a relateable cast, hilarious and well-written dialogue, gorgeous graphics, an intriguing if tiredly familiar setup, and simple, novel gameplay. 



LandFall Games

ClusterTruck is an intense, toe-curling, teeth-clenching, truly challenging, and stupidly fun first-person 3D platformer. The basic premise is that you are jumping across an endless onslaught of freight trucks, and doing your best to make it to the end of each level without touching the ground once, like an insane parkour version of "The Floor is Lava". The game has no story, or any context for what is going on, but it doesn't need any in order to be gripping and fun.


The behavior of the trucks is affected very slightly by how you land on them, as their momentum and trajectory is altered slightly, so memorizing patterns and forming a consistent winning strategy isn't a viable option. Add on top of this the fact that the trucks are always moving, often quickly, as well as in different directions, and you have a gaming experience that is based entirely on twitch instincts -- fast thinking, and quick reaction times. The levels are also usually on the short side, and the player can also restart the level immediately upon death, which keeps the game's flow consistently fast-paced. 


The game is planned to have 9 different worlds with 10 levels each, all with different visual themes and gameplay mechanics, both related and unrelated to the surrounding environment. These hazards range from giant hammers, to rotating lasers, to the classic standby of huge walls. The player will also acquire new abilities over the course of the game that will naturally enhance the simple mechanics that the game establishes at its start. These include a helpful double-jump and the ability briefly slow down time in order to more accurately position a landing.


ClusterTruck is shaping up to be a rare example of first-person platformer that doesn't just succeed, but actually does well. 


100ft Robot Golf

No Goblin

Sometimes a game doesn't need to be the prettiest belle of the ball or the most technically advanced to be good. Sometimes all a game needs to do is know what it wants to be, and then succeed at being that thing. 100ft Robot Golf knows exactly what it is. It is silly, it is stupid, and it loves it.


100ft Robot Golf is a multiplayer golf game that can support up to four players. But there aren't turns like in normal golf, but rather, a chaotic frenzy where all four players have their own ball that they need to get to hole. Each mech has different skills and abilities, which they must use in addition to flying around and destroying buildings, in order to essentially race their opponents to the hole. Everything about the game's premise, presentation, and writing is tongue-in-cheek and comedic in tone. From the corny anime trope characters to the dry humor narrations of the commentator brothers, it is all done for the sake of getting a laugh out of you.


It's a game that is fairly simple to understand and is it is immediately satisfying. We played this game with a group of complete strangers, and we were all having a blast; laughing and cracking jokes as we knocked down buildings and watched as our mechs danced at the end of each hole. It's dumb fun in the best way.


If you want absolute proof that the developers know what kind of ridiculous game they're making, then check out this tweet:  


Shantae: Half-Genie Hero

WayForward Technologies

Shantae: Half-Genie Hero looks and feels like a very, very solid 2D platformer. The PAX demo showcased the typical on-point humor, fluid animation, and tight controls that the Shantae series has always been known for, but it also showed off bits and pieces of what promises to be the biggest and most content rich game in the series thus far.


With a lengthy base campaign for Shantae herself coming, supposedly meant to be longer than any previous game in the series, as well as four additional campaigns with different characters all with their own stories and play-styles coming as DLC, this game promises to be packed to the gills with excellent platforming content. There will also be costumes meant to change Shantae's gameplay ever so slightly, and minigames and challenges thrown in here and there to add some variety to the jumping and whipping.


The demo also showcased a number of staples from previous Shantae titles returning, such as the animal transformations, as well as a handful of enemies and set-pieces, making it a treat for both newcomers as well as nostalgic fans. The magic system also returns from Shantae: Risky's Revenge, which includes both new and old defensive and offensive abilities, which adds a bit more to the potential strategy used in combat. The hand-drawn characters and enemies are very detailed, and they blend very well with the equally detailed 3D environements -- all of which is complemented by yet another impressive soundtrack from series veteran composer Jake Kaufman.   


Shantae: Half-Genie Hero looks fantastic for platforming enthusiasts as well as other gamers; and won't be long until the people of the world can get their hands on it. 



Arachnid Games

There have been many other oceanic or undersea exploration games before, but Diluvion still seems like a somewhat unique take on the concept. It combines real-time exploration in a 3D environment somewhat similar to Skies of Arcadia or No Man's Sky, with real-time ship and crew management in a 2D style similar to FTL, and then adds on a number of interesting additional mechanics on top this.


You can salvage parts from downed ships, recruit new crew members from scattered underwater colonies, and you must manage the oxygen and other resources of your submarine while exploring a tale taking place in the ruins of a now sunken civilization, all while making sure that your crew doesn't die.


In a market where most underwater exploration is bright and crystal blue, Diluvion opts for a slightly darker and foggier underwater landscape, which makes anticipating the unexpected a frequent feeling. This leaves you to resort on the sub's sonar ping system in order to get a idea as to if what you're looking at it just a wall, or a gigantic cyborg spider getting ready to laser scuttle you to death.


Diluvion isn't the most unique looking game in the world, but its mechanics seem very solid, and the exploration and art-style are both enjoyable. So keep an eye out for its release if you're looking to plunder undersea treasure later this year.



Tribute Games

Flinthook is a light rouguelike (a rougelite) based around shooting, looting, solving time manipulation and switch puzzles, and grappling everywhere you go while you do all of these things. It's a game with consistently engaging gameplay, as the combat and puzzles both encourage and necessitate balancing grappling-hook platforming with shooting and using your other abilities.


It's also a game that, while challenging at times, is much less difficult than most other quality roguelikes available, which makes it a great entry point into this sub-genre for both younger and inexperienced players. Its pixelated artwork is both very detailed and colorful, and creates a cartoon-y and expressive style that helps convey the game's adventurous and lighthearted tone as you plunder various procedurally generated pirate ships in space. 




In a market where most rhythm games sell based on their unique soundtracks and visuals, Klang stands out by having a distinct soundtrack, visuals, AND gameplay. Klang strives to be more than a typical rhythm/music game by combining familiar directional-input-rhythm-matching gameplay with active platforming and combat simultaneously. This means that you will, at times, have to run and jump back and forth while also paying attention to the input innstructions.


The difficulty curves very naturally, the visuals are stark and expressive, and the musical motif carries well through the background and character design. With tightly designed, unique gameplay built around a head-banging soundtrack; Klang is a rhythm game you should keep an ear to the ground for.


Invisigun Heroes

Sombr Studio

Invisigun Heroes is a multiplayer focused 2D arena shooter built around a unique hook -- your character is completely invisible until you shoot or use your special ability. This requires all players to remember where other players are when they briefly appear, and then watch how the environment reacts and listen for their footsteps whenever they aren't attacking and visible. There are also power-ups a handful of different game modes in order to add some spice to the gameplay, which will span 50 arenas on 5 different planets, all with different hazards. 


This game has a STRONG focus on multiplayer. There is a single player mode with AI opponents, but the game also features 2-4 player local multiplayer, as well as online play, AND cross-platform play. With all this multiplayer content and the mind games involved in every single match; Invisigun Heroes should be a great game to break out at parties.


The title says it all!


PAX West 2016 was loaded with great games, and these are some of the most interesting and fun that we encountered while we were there. We couldn't play every game that was there, but we played as many as we could -- and these are some of the biggest standouts from the show. 

The Interesting and Rocky History of the Shantae Series Mon, 29 Aug 2016 10:10:19 -0400 Greyson Ditzler

Some game series have success right out of the gate. Some series have a slow start as they emerge from humble beginnings. Then there are series like Shantae, where almost every game is funded out of the pocket of the developers, and nearly three console generations and 10 years of time separate the first and second installments.

Today we talk about the Shantae series; A series of platformer video games with a truly admirable tale of dedication attached to its creation and its duration in the tossing tides of the video game industry.

Let's start at the beginning, a very good place to start.

Shantae was the first original IP by developer WayForward Technologies, and it was co-created by now-married couple Erin Bell and Matt Bozon. The story goes that Bozon was conversing with Bell about what sort of character she'd like to make if she were to design a video game character. Some time soon after, Matt discovered Erin drawing up concept sketches of the heroine.

Matt began asking about what Shantae's abilities would be, as well as her personality and the world she lived in -- After some discussion between the couple over character and world details the purple-haired warrior maiden was born.

The design of both Shantae and her world were influenced by inspirations of both Bozon and Bell.

Shantae's name and long hair came from Erin's personal experience. She had been working as a camp counselor up until that point, and one of the campers she had worked with had been named Shantae, a name Bell grew fond of. It has also been stated by Matt that Erin had very long hair at the time, which would often whack him in the face whenever she turned around, which is where Shantae got her signature look and signature attack of whipping her hair. Erin was also inspired by the television show I Dream of Jeannie.

Matt's influences came in the shape of outside sources that inspired the gameplay style and feel of Shantae's world. The gameplay was heavily inspired by The Legend of Zelda, Castlevania, and Mega Man, as can be seen in the Metroidvania structure as well as her range of abilities.

Matt's ideas for the art style and aesthetic was inspired by cartoons like Ducktales and Transformers (properties WayForward would actually go on to make games for later on). Further inspiration came from anime like Ranma 1/2 and the works of Hayao Miyazaki.  

Matt Bozon is quick to clarify that he did not create Shantae, but rather his wife did. While he created the world around her and fleshed out characters. Both the Bozons were integral in the creation of the series and Erin Bell (now Erin Bozon) is Shantae's creator.

The development of the first Shantae began in 1997, and was originally conceived as a 2D platformer with animated characters moving along 3D backgrounds, made for release on PC, and perhaps the original PlayStation -- This version was scrapped early on, and development focus shifted to the Game Boy Color from then on, based on a decision by WayForward founder and "tyrannical overlord" Voldi Way.   

An early and unpolished screenshot of the abandoned attempt of Shantae on the PlayStation/PC.  

Although Shantae began development in 1997, it would not see a proper release until 2002, nearly an entire year after the new Game Boy Advance had been on the market.

This is where it gets messy.

The development and publishing process of the original Shantae is a ludicrous, though thankfully well-documented disaster. Through a number of different interviews with Matt Bozon, it has been made clear how many difficulties both he and WayForward faced in getting the game made.

During development, the team's computers had to have buckets of ice put inside them at times to stop them from overheating in the California heat. Matt Bozon has even reported that the Game Boy Color Development Kit he had to work with was Japanese -- Meaning he had to make his own personal cheat sheet to remember what button did what function.

But despite all these hardships Shantae was eventually finished and ready for the world to see... but not quite yet. This was when WayForward ran into their next big hurdle; finding Shantae a publisher.

In order to run properly as well as save progress, Shantae required each cartridge to be built with a 32 megabit battery, which was expensive to produce and turned a lot of publishers off. On top of this, most publishers saw launching a game with a new intellectual property as an additional risk. Luckily, this response didn't stop the team from trying to get the game published, and their perseverance paid off when they finally acquired a publisher in the form of Capcom.

Unfortunately, the game's final step in publication also came with problems. For reasons that have never been fully explained, even though Capcom was the only publisher who would pick up Shantae -- the company held the completed version of the game in storage for 8 months before releasing it.

The game would have still released late for the Game Boy Color if it had been released right away, but due to the 8 month delay, Shantae released nearly an entire year after the then-new Game Boy Advance had been out, which ultimately lead to it under-performing in sales.

So on June 2nd, 2002 Shantae on the Game Boy Color finally saw the light of day... exclusively in North America where it sold only around 25,000 copies with no second print produced (...ouch). 

Front and back cover of the original Shantae on the Game Boy Color.       

The quest for sequels!

While the first Shantae sold pretty poorly, it was received very positively by critics, and Matt Bozon and the rest of WayForward weren't discouraged enough to stop trying. Shantae would resurface years later with the announcement of a sequel to the original game dubbed Shantae Advance (also known as Shantae 2: Risky Revolution) meant for release on the Game Boy Advance.

The game was supposedly meant to feature a number of features. There was six new towns to visit, four new labyrinths to explore based on the four seasons, various minigames, new transformations, swimming, flying, the ability to jump between the background and foreground.

The plot also revolved around Risky Boots sticking a giant pillar in the middle of Sequin Land in order to completely rotate it at will. Unfortunately, WayForward once again had difficulties finding a publisher, and Capcom wasn't there to bail them out this time -- so the game was ultimately cancelled.

Early screenshot of what would have been Shantae Advance. Image credit to

(For those interested in seeing what exists of the game, click here to see an archive of a live stream WayForward had of the game's most finished build.)

Some time after that there was also supposedly a short-lived plan for a DS Shantae game titled Shantae: Risky Waters. The game had a basic design document laid out, but after once again failing to find a publisher, the game was cancelled just like Shantae Advance

Just when it seemed like Shantae as a series might just disappear, in 2010, WayForward pulled it out of their hat by finally releasing a sequel to the first game titled Shantae: Risky's Revenge, release for DSiWare.

 Title screen for the Director's Cut improved version of Risky's Revenge that released on PC a few years later.

Risky's Revenge, much like the first Shantae, had a few hiccups during development, but not nearly as much. Several ideas from the cancelled Shantae Advance made it into the final game, including swimming and jumping between background and foreground feature and some plot points, although it is hard to say how much.

The biggest change that occurred in development was that the game was originally meant to be a three part episodic series available for download. The final game was a single stand alone release, possibly due to budget or time constraints. Despite all this, Risky's Revenge did very well critically just like the first game, and is often cited as the best DSiWare game available. 

By this time, due to the growing power of the internet and it now being a series, the brand awareness of Shantae began to grow much larger than it had been. While DSiWare titles weren't know to sell well, Risky's Revenge did better than most, and gained an added boost by being available on the 3DS eShop early in it's life.

As a result of their newfound success, WayForward didn't need to gather their resources for nearly 9 years to make a sequel, and managed to make another in only half the time.

Pirate's Curse brings the series some well-deserved booty.

By this time, WayForward had finally become a recognizable name in the industry, after gaining praise and attention for their far-above average licensed games like DuckTales: Remastered, their Adventure Time games, and Aliens: Infestation. Not to mention their growing catalog of acclaimed original title like Mighty Switch Force 1 & 2, Double Dragon Neon, and their remake of A Boy and His Blob. 

WayForward had a resume, they had a reputation, and they had money. They had all the things needed to make a brand new Shantae game that wasn't nearly restricted as the ones prior and that's exactly what they did.

In 2014, WayForward released the third, and newest installment in the series Shantae and the Pirate's Curse. The game was initially announced in November of 2012, in one of the most stylish ways possible, by taking up the cover of the penultimate issue of famed gaming magazine Nintendo Power.

Now THAT is prime advertising space.


The game was first released for download on the 3DS in North America, where it enjoyed an even better commercial and critical response than Risky's Revenge. Over time it went on to be a best seller on the system.

Fast forward two years and Pirate's Curse is available nearly everywhere and not just in places other than Northern America, but on nearly every system available. WayForward has ported the game to Wii U, XBox One, Playstation 4, Steam,, and even the Amazon Fire TV at this point -- Shantae and the Pirate's Curse slowly became the best kind of success WayForward could have hoped for: A widespread success. 


Shantae's story still continues on...

Following a successful Kickstarter campaign in 2013 during Pirate's Curse's development, Shantae: Half-Genie Hero is currently in development, and is planned for release on September 27 of this year.

The game is the first in the series to be built from the ground up for consoles, and will feature fully hand-drawn animations.  The game will have new transformations for the heroine and thanks to it's campaign reaching it's $900,000 stretch goal, it'll include four additional characters with their own playable campaigns as well.

(on a side note: of all the things that show how far Shantae as a series has come, the original trailer for half-Genie Hero's Kickstarter does it the best.)

Shantae is officially a series now, and it seems to be growing bigger and more beloved faster than it ever has before. Technology has only improved these games, as has better funding for WayForward, but what really kept this series alive and improving was heart. From the imaginative developers and dedicated fans, Shantae has been kept alive by love for a character and her world -- It's truly inspiring to see such a success story come from a battle of attrition fought by people who used to be nobodies in the industry. 

Whatever plans that Matt Bozon and the rest of WayForward Technologies have for Shantae following Half-Genie Hero are unclear as of now, but as long as the fans are there, they'll all be Ret-2-Go!

 She's come a long way.

Mega Man-ipulation: Mighty No. 9's $4 million budget went.. where? Mon, 20 Jun 2016 14:18:19 -0400 Ashley Shankle

After a handful of delays Keiji Inafune's Mega Man successor Mighty No. 9 has finally had its review embargo lifted and the game is only one day from release! Unfortunately the most of the reviews pouring onto Metacritic aren't exactly shining.

With Mighty No. 9 toted as the spiritual successor to Mega Man and the Kickstarter (plus PayPal donations) racking up $4 million, hopes and tensions have been high around the game's release. Repeated delays and the recently released, slightly patronizing trailer haven't helped either.

One can't help but wonder what has gone on with the development of this game when two other titles involving co-developer Inti Creates have also been successfully crowdfunded recently, and both look to be of higher quality titles especially with budget differences in mind.

Mighty No. 9's development has been handled by two studios: Inafune's own studio Comcept and the previously mentioned Inti Creates, the studio behind the Mega Man Zero titles on the Game Boy Advance as well as Mega Man 9 and 10.

In concept the collaboration between Comcept and Inti Creates should have made something really magical as both have veterans developers who have worked with the Mega Man series before. And with $4 million crowdfunded to go towards development.. a Mega Man fan theoretically could not ask for a better setup for a spiritual successor to the Blue Bomber.

But here we are.

With the reviews pouring in and full playthrough videos finding their way to YouTube, two things are fairly obvious: Mighty No. 9 may look like Mega Man but it certainly does not seem to have the spirit, nor does it look like $4 million went into the development.

For a game with such a budget, not only do the graphics look bland, but the environments are dull and immemorable. And the gameplay, well.. it's certainly got the "jumping and shooting" part of Mega Man down but not much else.

For a spiritual successor to a series built around tight platforming, great music, blood-pumping boss fights and valuable powerups, Mighty No. 9 seems to be missing the point. And that point cost over 67,000 backers $4 million combined.

Comparing between two other Inti Creates-related crowdfunded titles

With all this talk about Mighty No. 9 not living up to its promises, wouldn't it be nice to be able to compare between other Kickstarted platformers and see what they look like and how they play?

Well we're in luck since E3 just came around, during which we got looks at two other Kickstarted games Mighty No. 9's co-development studio Inti Creates also had their hands in: Shantae: Half-Genie Hero and Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night. These games also happen to be 2.5D platformers.

According to the game's Kickstarter page Inti Creates worked on illustrations and character concepts for Shantae: Half Genie Hero, which was funded over $775,000 during its campaign and is being developed by WayForward, the studio behind the previous Shantae games.

Half Genie Hero may have gotten less than a fourth of the crowdfunding Mighty No. 9 did, but somehow its mix of 2D sprites and 3D environments not only looks comparable No. 9, but often looks more lively and colorful. Don't believe me? Check out these nine minutes of gameplay from E3.

Not only does it visually look better, the gameplay itself is even looks to be a marked improvement over previous entries to the Shantae series with fast transformations to keep the gameplay going. There are not a great deal of questions about where the funding went among the community.

Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night is a bit different in that its Kickstarter campaign actually raked in more money ($5.5 million) than Mighty No. 9 and its development is actually being led by Inti Creates, as opposed to their co-developer status on No. 9 and illustration work on Shantae. It's also being handled by the producer of several Castlevania titles, Koji Igarashi.

Oh, and it also looks like a much higher quality game than Mighty No. 9, staying true to the series (Castlevania) it's derivative of. Check out the gameplay video below, sans game audio.

Bloodstained looks like it will fit right in with the -vania subgenre, and its Kickstarter stretch goals (which were all met) are mostly gameplay-related. Only two were platform-related, which were the Wii U and Vita because they are not hugely popular platforms. None of Shantae's were platform-related and four of Mighty No. 9's were porting the game to all platforms, including PlayStation 4--which is not only affordable even to small indie devs but would have been suicide for the game if not done in the first place.

The question of where the money went

Now, these three games may be handled by different teams as a whole and they are not necessarily related to one another side from Inti Creates being involved in some way, but it's an eye-opener for Mega Man fans who were hoping Keiji Inafune would do the whole "spiritual successor" thing justice.

It's understandable to want to know where that $4 million in funding went, when there's also a Mighty No. 9 3D animated show and a potential sequel being talked about before the game has even come out, especially when the game's trailer and gameplay videos are so lackluster. Inafune seems confident that somehow the game will do well enough to warrant an animated TV show and a sequel, but it's hard to imagine that actually being the case.

All this time the Mighty No. 9 fanbase has been trying to raise its voice and ask what exactly is going on with development, and here we are a day from release with the results of Comcept and Inti's work knocking on the door and somehow it just does not look appealing. One has to wonder how this even happened with so many Mega Man veterans at the helm.

With the mention of a sequel and the animated series coming the only natural conclusion backers and spectators can come to based off the quality of the game is that the funding was not used as it was laid out on the Kickstarter.

There are so many questions regarding the game's funding, and there have been for some time. It simply does not seem like the money crowdfunded for the game actually went into it, and Inafune's teasing over the show and sequel does nothing but back up that assumption.

Whatever Comcept did with the $4 million in backer funds is a mystery to us as consumers. Whatever was done has solidified Mighty No. 9 as a game that will be forgotten in action but remembered as a big crowdfunded title that somehow missed the mark, no matter the path they take with additional media and sequels now.

Shantae: Half-Genie Hero to be Released September 27th in North America Tue, 07 Jun 2016 07:38:53 -0400 ericafeldfeber

On June 4, WayForward tweeted an image of pre-order listings for their platformer, Shantae: Half-Genie Hero, on GameStop. The image shows that the game will be released in North America on the Nintendo Wii U on September 27th for $29.99. WayForward later tweeted, in response to this image, that both digital and retail will be released at the same time. The game is now available for pre-order.

Shantae: Half-Genie Hero is a celebration of 2D, adventure-style platformers by game developer WayForward, makers of Ducktales Remastered, Contra 4, and Mighty Switch Force. The game features lush, hand-drawn animation, colorful characters, classic gameplay, rockin' tunes, and plenty of the outlandish humor the series is known for. 

Follow WayForward on Twitter to stay updated on the latest Shantae: Half-Genie Hero news. 

Image courtesy of WayForward

XSEED plans to publish three indie games to consoles Fri, 03 Jun 2016 08:54:40 -0400 TheSmartestMoron

Earlier today, XSEED Games, the studio responsible for publishing games such as Legend of the Heroes series and Senran Kagura, revealed plans to publish three indie games to consoles.

The first game they plan to publish is Shantae: Half-Genie Hero for PS4, Vita, and Wii U. The Shantae series has existed since 2002 on the Game Boy Color, and was revived thanks to fan support with the recent Shante and the Pirate's Curse. This particular game was brought to life on Kickstarter, and plans to continue the dancing genie's adventures. Not much is known about the story, though Risky Boots has been revealed to be an antagonist as in other games.

Along with a physical release, there will be a special edition that comes with a CD containing over 20 songs from the soundtrack of the game, priced at $29.99 for each version. A release date has yet to be announced.

The second game is Touhou: Scarlet Curiosity, starring the vampire Remilia Scarlet. The story follows her trying to find excitement, as she's bored with immortality after 500 years. She proceeds to hunt a new monster to see if she can have fun again. But the monster also destroys her manor while looking for her -- ultimately leading to a journey of vengeance, and hopefully, fun for her as she takes tries to take that mansion back.

Unlike other games in the IP, this Touhou goes from bullethell gameplay to more of an action-RPG feel, taking inspiration from Ys. Aside from Remilia, you can also play as her maid, Sakuya Izayoi. Despite a change in gameplay, the game description states that dodging waves of projectiles and complex patterns is still very important. Touhou: Scarlet Curiosity is slated for a digital release on the PS4 in the fall.

The final game is Exile's End, a game taking place in the future as a mega-corporation called Ravenwood sends a team of mercenaries to a remote mining planet in hopes of finding the Company President's lost son. Things grow dire as the mercenary's ship goes down. Of all the escape pods launched to save themselves, only private Jameson makes it unscathed on the alien planet and must fight to accomplish his mission. The story is said to become more complex, and even offers multiple endings, too.

The game itself is a 2D sidescroller, described as "part Metroidvania and part cinematic platformer, drawing heavy inspiration from classics of the genre like Out of This World and Flashback: The Quest for Identity." Exile's End is set for a digital release on PS4, Vita, and Wii U later this summer.

XSEED Games plans to have all three games playable at E3 from June 14th to the 16th this year at the LA Convention Center.

Shantae: Half-Genie Hero is Half-Way Funded In Only Four Days Sun, 08 Sep 2013 22:43:57 -0400 Corey Kirk

Remember when we reported on Shantae: Half-Genie Hero? You know, the new game on Kickstarter by the developers of Duck Tales: Remastered? Well after only four days, the team at WayForward has received $203,000, over 50% of the money they are asking us to pledge.

For those of you who may not know, Shantae: Half-Genie Hero is a platformer which stars Shantae, a human and genie mix who can use her hair to attack monsters and belly dance to transform into a variety of creatures. The game takes place in a genie realm where magic is prevalent and the story is set in chapters, with “each chapter introducing new subplots, friends & foes”.

WayForward’s initial goal of $400,000 has not been met yet, but there is still time to back this project before all of those rewards, like access to the beta, are gone. If you are interested, head on over to WayForward’s Kickstarter page to read more about this new and exciting game.

Shantae: Half-Genie Hero Kickstarter Announced! Wed, 04 Sep 2013 13:34:56 -0400 Reilly C.

WayForward just announced the Kickstarter for their newest game: Shantae: Half-Genie Hero.

What does this mean?  It means more classic platforming goodness from the company that knows how to make great side scrolling platformers.  These are the guys behind Ducktales: Remastered, Mighty Switch Force, Adventure Time games and A Boy and His Blob.

The starting payment for the game is $15 but for a limited 1000 you can get it for $12.  Move quick because there are only 700 left after under an hour of announcement!

There are plenty of stretch goals that range from new characters to play, bonus chapters and a few costume changes for our lovely main character!  Seeing the rate it is getting funded, I am sure most if not all of these will be reached.

If you are not familiar with the original Shantae, you can go download it on your 3DS from the Nintendo eShop for $4.99 or hunt down some original copies for the Gameboy Color.

Shantae: Half-Genie Hero will be available for Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS3 & 4, WiiU and Steam sometime in the future.