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Pretty sure I've asked about starting the Shantae series before but in terms of the titles available on Switch currently, what would you say is the one to start with?
I personally had started on "Shantae and the Pirate's Curse" which is overall many fans fave game in the series... I played it back on the Wii U, it is now on Switch too. it was REALLY fun! However the gameplay is not exactly the norm of the series, which can mislead your expectations for the other games as a tiny warning.
Pirate’s Curse is the best game in the series because it plays differently from the other games. Unlike the rest of the series where Shantae relies on transformations and has to stop to dance into them, Pirate’s Curse has Risky’s pirate gear, which can be used fluidly with the rest of Shantae’s moveset in succession.
The end result is when you unlock all of the gear, you have this amazingly fast paced, fluid level of gameplay that rewards you for using the gear in tandem with each other. It’s especially great on a new game plus run where you start with all gear and can play this style throughout the whole game.
Half Genie Hero is a decently fun time too, but it isn’t as good as Pirate’s Curse, it’s hurt by putting mandatory backtracking into a Mega Man level structure and it serves as needless padding and filler. It’s still a good time, but I can only recommend it if you enjoyed Pirate’s Curse.
Shantae 1 and Risky’s Revenge haven’t aged very well at all, so I don’t really recommend them.
Yeah, Shantae is a really annoying series to recommend a first game for because they all come with major caveats, and just to rub salt in the wound, they have a continous narrative, at least with regards to character relationships and a continous throughline of Shantae coming to grips with who she is and the whereabouts of her parents.
Shantae for Game Boy - Only avaliable on 3DS: Was very impressive technically for it's time, and still a good game if you use a guide to manage some of the more "old-game-with-an-open-world where-the-hell-do-I-go-now" moments. But obviously this is a pretty hardcore way to start, this game is OLD now.
Risky's Revenge - A decent game that retains the gameplay of the original but is smaller in scope than the others due to being a DSiWare game originally. This is where a lot of fans started and the modern ports fix some frustrating issues with the original, but it's not the series at it's best and isn't as funny as the other games for whatever reason. It's good, but a very mild introduction to the series.
Pirate's Curse - As said, the best game in the series, though unfortunately also has very different gameplay due to having all of your moves available at all times rather than the franchise's tradition of having Shantae transform into different animals to navigate the world. It's also abnormal from a narrative perspective - Shantae has lost her magical abilities at this point in the series and teams up with the franchise antagonist.
Half-Genie Hero - A really nicely put together game that returns to the franchise's traditional gameplay in terms of moveset, but ditches open world exploration for a linear level structure that it then expects you to re-explore multiple times, especially since they had to sacrifice some game length for the game's high production values.
Seven Sirens - If you fancy waiting for the new one, it's shaping up pretty nicely so far. It finds a really happy middleground between Pirate's Curse's quick access moveset without losing the aesthetic of Shantae's traditional animal transformations. I've only played Part 1 on Apple Arcade though, so I dunno whether the story will end up going places that will be alienating for newcomers - previous games certainly have.
Having said all of this, I do wonder if I'm worrying too much about the narrative stuff - as said while Risky's Revenge does nothing to explain who everyone is and what happened on the previous adventure, I still enjoyed it regardless. It's entirely possible the references to the overall narrative in PC and HGH might either harmlessly go over the head of a newcomer or still be perfectly easy to understand even without foreknowledge.
Gun to my head... I'd say Pirate's Curse. If you enjoy it and end up being disappointed at all by the others, that's still a better position to be in than having never played any at all!
I think the continuous narrative is not a problem. I started with pirate's curse and wasn't bothered whatsoever with jumping into the middle of everything... but this depends on a person's personal interest as some people can't stand missing out on story buildup, while others won't worry about it.
Just checked my Steam library and it seems at one time or another I ended up with the Risky's Revenge Director's Cut so I'll probably start there. Had a read through the plot and setting of the first game on wikipedia too so I think I've got the jist of the narrative stuff from that.
I definitely wouldn't dump the series if RR doesn't keep me till the end. Especially since folk are saying the series is a bit inconsistent with its style (plenty used to that with Sonic already). The artstyle and characters of the series all look really fun so I'm hoping there's a lot I'll come to enjoy!