Now that the Game Boy Advance has become the portable system of choice for many gamers, those who own only a Game Boy Color have been left somewhat high and dry in terms of having new games to play. So Capcom's latest release for this seemingly forgotten system, Shantae, deserves a look by anyone interested in classic 2D platform games.
Set in a world known as Sequin Land, this game follows the adventures of a young genie by the name of Shantae, who has taken on the task of protecting a small village. Upon starting the game, Shantae gets somewhat of a wake-up call as the town falls prey to a band of pirates. After a short series of cutscenes, the action begins. Initially, Shantae's actions are limited to jumping and attacking by whipping her hair. As you progress in the game, she will learn various dances that give her the ability to transform herself into a variety of animals, each with different helpful abilities. In addition to this, she is able to equip herself with different weapons to move beyond her basic hair-whip attack.
If you've had any experience with 2D platform games, you'll find yourself instantly at home with Shantae. Even those who haven't cut their teeth on this type of game will be able to pick up and play the game with relative ease. While the game is firmly rooted in the traditional conventions of the genre, putting Shantae's dances to use brings a simple rhythm-game aspect to the gameplay. There are also several minigames available, offering a short diversion from the core gameplay.
Given that the Game Boy Color's technology is pretty dated by now, Shantae squeezes just about everything it can out of the system. It may be graphically simple by today's standards, but the colorful graphics get the job done and look remarkably good for the system. One area that this game truly shines in is the animation. Shantae moves very fluidly--especially when performing her special dance moves. Yet while this game clearly raises the bar for Game Boy Color games, sadly, it seems that there will be few games to follow in its footsteps. And while Shantae may look good, it comes up short where audio is concerned. The simple music is tinny and repetitive, and the sound effects are similarly bland. As a whole, though, it has one of the best presentations the system is able to offer.
For those who play Shantae on the Game Boy Advance, there are a couple of extras to take into account. First is that the game uses a larger palette of colors when played on the GBA, giving the graphics a bit of a boost. Secondly, there is also a secret shop in one of the towns that only appears on the GBA.
Ultimately, Shantae is a fine example of how good a 2D platform game can be on a portable system. While it would have been nice to see the game developed specifically for the Game Boy Advance, it does what it does well, even on the Game Boy Color. So if you're looking for an excuse to dust off your Game Boy Color, or you have a taste for 2D action, you need look no further than Shantae.