5 Things Shantae 5 Needs to Push the Series Forward
The Shantae series has come so far. From its humble beginnings on the Game Boy Color in 2002, all the way to now, the series has generated hype and a decent fanbase. Shantae herself has become an indie icon and even managed to sneak her way into Super Smash Bros.
The hype for Shantae grew so much so that when Shantae 5 was announced out of nowhere by WayForward last March, select corners of the internet exploded. I have to say, as a long-time fan of the series myself, it was honestly pretty special seeing Shantae 5 trending on Twitter.
With that in mind, there are a lot of things that I and many other fans would be very happy to see be included in Shantae 5's final release, so here's a wishlist of just that! Ret-2-Go!
1. Expand The Scope of the Game and Its Content
I would not be at all upset if lizard racing bets became a series staple.
The Shantae games have always been high-quality, but one consistent and somewhat negative point of the series is that most of the games have been fairly short. The average time for beating pretty much every game has been between six to eight hours for over 15 years now, and it would be nice to see the main campaign expand in length and scale.
Why not bring back some neat features from past Shantae games that haven't been seen in a while? Mini-games, anyone?
It might not look like much, but little additions like
Super Shantae Nab! help to keep things fresh.
Shantae on the Game Boy Color had several mini-games that could be played for extra gems. These ranged from a dancing parlor rhythm game to a runner-type race against Rottytops and even betting on lizard-races by rolling dice.
Shantae and the Pirate's Curse included the mini-game "Super Shantae Nab" in several later releases, which had the player using Monkey Shantae to nab gems that the player could use in gameplay. Why not expand on these small ideas?
Maybe bring back the Battle Tower from Shantae: Risky's Revenge, and allow players to compete in combat for extra cash, or maybe even upgrade items like Heart Squids and pieces of armor, or even the ability to perform new moves and transformation dances.
WayForward could create new mini-games, or just bring back these older mini-games. Either way, it would be lovely to see new side content on top of the main adventure. More game is always good.
2. Expand the World of Shantae — Add New And Exciting Locations
It's a big, beautiful world. Let's make it bigger!
The Shantae universe has always been one full of fantastical themes and idiosyncratic elements. It's a beautiful world loaded with Middle-Eastern influence and engrossing fantasy locales. It also takes heavy inspiration from cartoons and anime. It's truly a unique and interesting universe.
But at the same time, it is somewhat at risk of repeating itself.
Each game in the series has added its own unique locations. Shantae: Risky's Revenge added various twisty-turny labyrinths, and Shantae and the Pirate's Curse added the hell-like Village of Lost Souls hidden within the cold, lonely Mudbog Island.
However, it's worth taking a step back and seeing that the series as a whole has repeated itself quite a bit.
Every sequel in the Shantae series has essentially been using the original Shantae on the Game Boy Color as a template when it comes to the visual cues and the locations explored. That isn't inherently a bad thing, but some tweaks to the old formula and additional variety would be much appreciated.
3. Swapping Between Characters Would Be Nice
The series' side characters have a lot of charm and potential too, why not get them more involved with the gameplay?
Of all the features presented in this wishlist, this one is the least likely because it would probably take the most work. However, this is basically a fantasy Christmas list, so let's dare to dream, shall we?
It would be fantastic if Shantae 5 were to somehow integrate Shantae's friends like Bolo, Sky, Rottytops, and Risky Boots into the regular gameplay.
Shantae: Half-Genie Hero had several DLC campaigns post-release that gave players the option to go through modified versions of the main campaign playing as all of Shantae's friends, as well as her arch-nemesis. Those were all fairly unique and entertaining despite each being too short and stripped-down.
If WayForward wanted to build on these mechanics for a sequel, the next logical step would be either giving each character their own gameplay sections or, even better, allowing the player to swap between characters on the fly.
Imagine the exploration and puzzle opportunities presented by swapping between different characters; it could be something like Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon or Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon.
It's a long-shot that WayForward would add this, seeing how much work it would take and how much it would have to lead the design of Shantae 5. Shantae could still have loads of transformation dances and be much more viable than the other characters, but expanding the gameplay in this area would take the series in a new direction. Fingers crossed.
4. A Few New Modes Wouldn't Go Amiss
I wonder if Shantae 5 will have this many modes... maybe more?
These wishlist items have more to do with the Metroidvania side of the Shantae series than the actual Shantae part of it.
As with any Metroidvania, a few extra modes being made available to people who beat the main game would be nice incentives to replay the adventure. Namely, a Boss Rush Mode and a Randomizer Mode would be welcome additions.
Being able to fight all of the game's bosses in one run with a set amount of health and upgrades (maybe customizable a la Super Smash Bros.' Smash Run mode?) just seems like a natural progression for a series like Shantae.
A Randomizer Mode would be a lot harder to do, and maybe it wouldn't work with however Shantae 5 is designed, but adding it would bring Shantae closer to modern Metroidvanias.
Randomizer runs are becoming more and more popular with a lot of classic-style games these days, especially other Metroidvanias like Hollow Knight and loads of Castlevania titles. A randomizer mode would be a logical next step considering the Shantae series' growing encouragement of speedrunning in its games.
5. A Quality Story Well Told
The Shantae series' writing isn't just about comedy. Sometimes it's about uplifting arcs, villains showing humanity and sympathy, and wonderful characters.
The thing that I want the most from Shantae 5 (and I know I'm not alone in this) is a good story well told. The series has always produced quality writing, especially when it comes to comedy, but the world-building and occasionally more realistic and serious moments are where the series shines.
Shantae: Half-Genie Hero was a stellar game, especially after the release of all its DLC. However, the segmented structure of the game, resulting from its gradually expanding Kickstarter nature, ultimately left the story feeling somewhat inconsequential.
Every chapter felt like an episode of a TV series, which was a nice way to structure it considering how the overarching plot was so loose. But I and many others missed the more involved and sometimes emotional storytelling of the past games, particularly Shantae and the Pirate's Curse.
There are so many mysteries that the past games have raised that would be interesting to explore, and others that some fans are dying to know the answers to.
Where is the Sequin Land Sultana? Did Rottytops and her family ever find the Zombie Caravan again? Are there any other Half-Genies out there or is Shantae really alone?
As a series, Shantae has a great world and great characters, so I think it's only fair that the games get great stories, too. Let's just hope that WayForward feels the same way, and gives us some answers. Maybe even add some new mysteries and characters to cherish as much as we have all the others in the past.
Only time will tell.