3 out of 5. Heads and shoulders above its predecessor, Shantae and the Pirate's Curse is a exciting romp in a colorful world with quirky characters and slightly dark humor.

How Metroidvania is it? Medium Fit. The game follows a very specific pacing pattern that is more Zelda-Like than Metroidvania, but the Metroidvania elements are still there in full force.
Primary Challenge: Melee Combat
Time to beat: ~5 hours
Review Info: Shantae and the Pirate's Curse was played on the Wii U.

More Info

Developer: WayForward
Publisher: WayForward
Sub-genre: Zelda-Like
Features: Map System, Equipment System, Guide/Hint System, 2D Platformer, Melee Combat, Tricky Platforming, Spatial Reasoning Puzzles, Narrative/Cutscenes Story Telling, Cute, Level-Based, Sexual Content/Suggestive Themes
Difficulty: Low, Medium
Linearity/Openness: Level Based
Platforms: Windows, Steam, GOG, 3DS, Wii U, Switch, PS4, Xbox One
Release Date: 2013/04/23
Available Languages: English

Store Links

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Buy Shantae and the Piirate's Curse if you like…

  • Dark Humor
  • Quirky Characters
  • Fan-Service
  • 3D Zelda-Like Dungeon Design and Pacing (Pre BOTW)
  • Pumpkins

▼ Review continues below ▼

Shantae and the titular Pirate are back! And this time it’s better in just about every way. Shantae no longer lags with recovery frames when she lands, her attacks are snappy (and the damage is upgradable!), and everything just seems faster and more exciting. Furthermore, while the story still isn’t any kind of epic tale, its charming fun with a lot of good feels all the way to the end (Even though it still maintains some of the “exploding puppy” style dark humor.) If you want to see what Shantae is about, I definitely recommend starting here.

With her genie magic on hiatus because of the events in Risky’s Revenge, the awkward and pace-breaking transformations of the first two games are gone, and to replace them are more traditional Metroidvania power-ups, such as the obligatory double jump and the minorly pervasive run-really-fast-and-break-things power. Each of them are used with above-average success, with the challenges of the next level building on the last all the way until a very well done final dungeon which provides an ultimate test for everything you’ve learned. Wayforward has really learned a lot about level design and it shows.

It’s not completely perfect though. There are a few enemies that are poorly telegraphed, and one or two areas are a little heavy on the enemy spam, with one entire island committing the sin. There are also a couple of points where the difficulty jarringly spikes as the game tries to provide some variety. For the most part though it never gets so bad that it breaks the game, but it does break the flow.

My biggest complaint is the dungeon formula. You unlock a new island, solve a few puzzles that involve wandering around the islands you’ve already unlocked, and then you unlock the new island’s dungeon. It reminds me a bit of the child Link portion of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (And incidentally the way the dungeons provide one power-up and a boss that requires you to use that power-up to defeat them is also reminiscent of Zelda’s pattern.) While some of the dungeon-unlock puzzles are clever and interesting, a lot of them amount to busywork backtracking and what feels like forced gating. Part of the point of this “busywork” is to develop the game’s cast, and I can respect that, even if some of the jokes are really dated references (I mean, He-Man? I get the reference, but for anyone born after 1995 I could totally see that being lost on them.)

The game is at its best when you’re in its labyrinths, but that isn’t to say its charms didn’t have me chuckling – and the game’s ending was very satisfying. Overall it’s a vast improvement over Risky’s Revenge and an easy recommendation if you want a fun romp with a silly premise and characters (assuming you’re okay with the game’s flagrant fanservice)

Final Score


Scoring system overview

Metroidvania Breakdown

– 3

Good bosses and enemy placement. Not grossly challenging but also mostly fun

– 3

Fun power-ups are used to good effect providing a wide variety of content

– 3

Backtracking is often forced, but exploration is relatively well-done

– 3

Occasional spatial reasoning puzzle, especially in its ''Dungeons''

– 3

Nothing deep, but the characters are enjoyable and the situations can provide a chuckle or two (even if it occasionally makes some dated references in place of humor.)

– 4

Pixel art is top notch, and Shantae's animations are fluid

– 4

Catchy tunes beef up the spunky feel to 11

– 2

New difficulties and modes unlock upon completion, but not a ton of ways to approach the core game

Want a second opinion? See what other reviews say:

Steam Reviews
All Time: Overwhelmingly Positive
(95% of 1,199 Reviews)

TBD Metacritic
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