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ups: Great dance mode; lovable monkeys; very cute and very addictive.
downs: Tedious world-map travel; hokey storyline.

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Shantae Review (GBC)
game: Shantae
four star
posted by: GF! Back Catalogue 10/2004 => 1995
publisher: Capcom
date posted: 09:10 AM Fri Jul 26th, 2002
last revision: 05:48 AM Fri Sep 23rd, 2005

By Rachel Wichlacz

By day, Shantae is the guardian genie of a sleepy fishing town; by night she is a sensual temptress that knows how to boogie on the dance floor. This is how I found my time divided while playing this Shantae: I would scour the wilderness for the mysterious ancient relics until I grew bored, and then I would hop on over to the dance parlor for hours of dancing enjoyment, until I got bored with that too, then the process repeats. Though the scope of the game is slightly confined and game time is somewhat short, Shantae is unquestionably worth the 3 hours it takes to beat and the 10 hours spent doing all the more fun things. Although there is certainly a set (and illuminated) path for you to take there are also many side roads that you may not notice the first time around. Shantae is an addictive and enjoyable game, and the appealing non-3-D graphics gave my eyes a rest after a bombardment of realistic graphics from such games as Resident Evil for the Gamecube. Overall, the game is a neat little bundle of joy that is entertaining (if just a bit trite) and keeps you wanting more.

Shantae is a Game Boy Color game that is enhanced by the Game Boy Advanced; just what exactly they mean by \"enhanced\" I\'m not sure, but I do know that you have the option of boxing off the screen GBC style or stretching it to fit the new, more horizontal GBA screen. You do this by using the shoulder buttons, but that\'s something you can do with all GBC games when you play them on your GBA.

The plot has an original idea that is pulled off in a half-assed way by following the stereotypical \"quest\" scenario (i.e. you must collect a set number of the magical items to save the world/kingdom/city). Shantae, our heroine, is a half-genie who has pledged her magical life to protect Scuttle Town from danger. However, being only a half-genie her magical arsenal is limited to whipping her long ponytail and dancing in a fairly suggestive manner. All is going well until (and I\'m not making this up) Risky-boots, the lady pirate, steals what is apparently some sort of doomsday device and threatens to wield it against (and I\'m not making this up either) all of Sequin Land. Being the guardian genie that she is, Shantae sets off to stop her and her fiendish crew of tinkerbats. More trouble looms, as we learn that Risky-boots, the lady pirate, wants to get her hands on four mystical stones that will aid her and her weapon of mass destruction. Now, dressed only in a very provocative and probably chilly outfit, Shantae must beat Risky-boots, the lady pirate, to those magical stones. The game play is extremely fun and addictive (just ask anyone who tried to tell me something while I was hunkered over the GBA), but it is also tremendously annoying and a tad difficult. The way the world map is set up you end up with an exasperating amount of backtracking to get anywhere, and travel isn\'t the easiest part of the game. Blocking Shantae\'s path are hoards of enemies, all of which are some sort of scantily clad sexy lady thing (sexy scorpion ladies, sexy snake ladies, sexy zombie ladies, the list goes on), not the least of which is Risky-boots, the sexy lady pirate. I found myself putting down the game because it was getting a bit dull (not to mention redundant), and immediately picking it back up to continue on my adventure.

SS06-01.jpg (12584 bytes)What the game lacks in original plot devices and clothing it more than makes up for in mini-games, side-quests and secrets. I was thrilled to find an almost DDR like dance parlor where Shantae could make some mad cash in a remarkably short time span. Now, we\'re not here to judge but sweet innocent Shantae dances at a club, which is only open at night and only occupied by men -- seems a bit suspicious to me. That\'s not even the best part of dancing; it\'s actually relevant to game. In each dungeon you can learn a dance that changes you into a number of helpful (and cute) little animals. With each animal\'s new skill whole new areas are opened to you, most of which have nothing to do with the actual story line (plus the monkey is exceptionally adorable). Another very useful addendum to the dancing is the warp dances you can learn to help avoid roaming for days. There are whole sets of other magical items you can find to aid your search that are completely optional and very well hidden. Some mini-games you actually have to win to continue with the game (I personally enjoyed the zombie race, though it took a good 45 minutes to time it just right).

The dungeons are probably the least challenging part of the whole game; the puzzles are fairly simple and straight-forward and the bosses have little to do with strategy and more to do with wild pony-tail whipping. It plays a great deal like most Zelda games (but with more bare midriffs and less items), with an RPG-like arrangement plus platforms and action combat. I played the whole game with buying only a few items: Fighter\'s gear (which I hardly ever use), a single vial of heart replenishing goodness and some spiked balls just for the hell of it. Whilst the genie only has a single (and very weak) attack, items can be purchased for single use bursts to get all those really stubborn sexy harpy ladies, et al. I, on the other hand, felt less obliged to buy them, as I was saving up my stripping money for some spiffy (and expensive) fighter\'s gear, which allows you to use more attacks. Even with secret areas and items, re-play would be a bit of a bore, seeing as you already walk down each road about fifty times anyway.

The game switches from day to night and certain things can only be done during one or the other. Be warned that monsters gain twice the endurance at night and are harder to kill. The traveling Zombie Caravan can only be found at night and the Gecko Chamber is only open during the day, and so on. The controls are clear-cut, but a little annoying because of the mock-analog jump button; the longer you hold the button down the farther you go. Seems simple, right? Then factor in how fast you were running and for how long, how far the jump should be, how many enemies are in your way and then account for wind speed, any elevation changes, how sweaty and soar your thumbs are and adjust for pi, then hold your breath and choose a random amount of time to hold the button down. Then you can swear and try again when you fall into the same damn pit for the hundredth time, or maybe you can, by chance, over-shoot and manage to change direction in mid-air and make a less than graceful landing. There were to be too many instances where you have to make blind leaps of faith; from the treetops you can\'t see far enough ahead or below to know if you\'re heading straight for the only spike pit for miles. I would have done anything for the Super Mario system of looking ahead a few inches. There also seems to be too many places where you can\'t help but get hit, where no amount of frantic dodging and hair whipping will save your ass. This is what makes traveling such a thorn in the side of this game.

The graphics, at least in the enhanced version, are superb, especially considering the small capacity of the handheld genre. The audio also has surprisingly high quality (just look at those tiny speakers) and the music is reminisant of some sort of hip-hop belly-dancing mix and the dance mode sound effects are an excellent touch. I really liked the game over screen\'s music, though it did get a bit annoying after awhile. The bright colors and high resolution allow for a crisp clear view of all of the booty shaking action.

All the NPC characters have important things to tell you (RPG style); unfortunately, I decided that I was too high and mighty to listen to them through most of the game and spent far too much time looking for the dungeons than was really necessary. The sprites are mostly sexy women, with some fat guys in hot tubs mixed in there somewhere (thank god). The characters aren\'t very detailed (though some of them are really lovable anyway -- god I love that monkey), but they avoid the bothersome pixelation that so many Game Boy games end up with.

Well, I think I\'ve used enough euphemisms for dancing in one review (they use several in the game, like \"shake what your mamma gave you\"), so let\'s wrap things up shall we? The game is fun, but only on a kindergarten level. The plot is extremely unique, but not pulled off well. The dancing is intoxicating, but incites too many opportunities for inadequately dressed woman to be shaking their bacon (just one more). The game play is addictive, but your social life will suffer because of it. The graphics are pretty, but not as breathtaking as the GBA could make them. This game was teetering on the edge of 3 or 4 stars, but the monkey pushed it right up to a four. I\'d say go ahead and buy Shantae, its only a GBC game so its not too expensive, and you\'ll enjoy it on all those long flights and lonely nights. You\'ll get more dancing action than you can shake a stick at. Which reminds me, I never did beat the highest class in the dance parlor.