1. Shantae and the Pirate's Curse is a Metroidvania game but it is not all dour and stuff like Metroid or Castlevania.
2. The first Shantae game I played was the original for Game Boy Color. I did not like it enough to finish. This one, I loved. If you had trouble w/ earlier games in the series, this one may still be worth checking out if you are a fan of the genre.
3. Gameplay is really the focus here much more so than story. Controls are tight, the challenge builds at a reasonable rate, the difficult sections really feel cheap and there is only one horrible stealth section in this non-stealth game. In short, it does almost everything right.
4. Graphics work well too. This is not going to blow your neckbeard friends away with polygon counts or whatever but when you're talking about a 2D game, it is more about artstyle and this has it in spades.
5. On the 3DS version certain... assets... of the female characters pop out just way too far in 3D. I found this endlessly hilarious.
6. The music is a bit hit or miss but the songs that are great more than make up for the boring ones.
7. The story is something bad happens and Shantae is forced to team up w/ her former enemy, Risky Boots to defeat the evil villain or whatever. In reality, the story here is just a thin excuse to go tromping about the gameworld collecting items that let you tromp about other parts of the gameworld.
8. Number 6 is not a problem in games where tromping about is a lot of fun.
9. There are some light puzzle solving elements to this but they are of mostly of the oh-there-is-a-door-that's-closed-and-also-a-switch-whatever-will-I-do variety. The more interesting puzzle solving element is figuring out where to find what item you need to advance, the Metroidvania-type element.
10. My biggest complaints is some of the collectable/purchasable powerups seemed to Nerf things a bit too much. Some of the boss fights, especially, you could just use a few powerups and hack away randomly rather than have to figure out their patterns and actually fight them.
11. The Pirate's Curse offers up some replayability by offering up special endings for 100% runs, speed runs, etc. An NPC actually tells you this outright at some point in the game, which is appreciated.
12. Number 10 is only a big deal because this game is actually worth playing more than once.
13. I recommend this to anyone who likes playing good games. It has classic elements w/o being an outright rehash. It has style and humor and it's actually actively fun to play for the vast majority of time you will spend playing it. There are not a lot of games like this. Appreciate the ones that are.