Jump to content
Meta77

Shantae and the Seven Sirens (Apple Arcade, now out on PC/NSW/PS4/ONE)

Recommended Posts

-late- I actually quite like the visuals of this.  I kind of felt the 2.5D backgrounds of HGH (and by extension of DuckTales Remastered), made it look like they were inserting assets from unrelated games.  They weren't bad by any means, but I feel like the more two-dimensional art looks more natural; although it doesn't stand out quite as much admittedly.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wayforward has confirmed the game - in some form - will be available on iOS 13 and up devices for the launch of Apple Arcade, but details about anything beyond that have only been confirmed to be "coming soon".

I kind of hope that this is just a glorified demo that will let them get in on the ground floor of Apple Arcade with the full game releasing everywhere else at once when it's ready, it'd be kind of a bummer for the game to be episodic if it's supposed to be a return to the non-linear world style of Shantae 1-3.  I hope it isn't a sizable chunk of the game that's hard to avoid spoilers for if not.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
13 hours ago, JezMM said:
I kind of hope that this is just a glorified demo that will let them get in on the ground floor of Apple Arcade with the full game releasing everywhere else at once when it's ready, it'd be kind of a bummer for the game to be episodic if it's supposed to be a return to the non-linear world style of Shantae 1-3.

Good news: 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ah thank goodness they're finally being clear.  Unfortunately I only have an iPad in terms of apple products and Apple Arcade doesn't arrive on those until the 30th, so still a waiting game for me.  I hope the full release isn't too far off.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Jake Kaufman isn't returning for this game, unfortunately. 

I wonder why? He's been with the series from the very beginning, and his compositions for it have always been great, so this is a pretty disappointing loss. 

At least he's still doing the music for Shovel Knight Dig. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
15 minutes ago, Solly said:

Jake Kaufman isn't returning for this game, unfortunately. 

I wonder why? He's been with the series from the very beginning, and his compositions for it have always been great, so this is a pretty disappointing loss. 

At least he's still doing the music for Shovel Knight Dig. 

I think you answered your own question, it's most likely that he just didn't have time to work on both games simultaneously.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I can’t imagine the music thing is a time constraint issue, unless Jake has a lot of other projects besides SK. Jake has worked on multiple projects at once in the past.

Maybe it’s a budget issue. Either way, it is pretty disappointing. The new music doesn’t sound all that great.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Had a quick play of Shantae & The Seven Sirens tonight since I nabbed the trial of Apple Arcade. Few things based off my thoughts, there may be light spoilers so be careful reading on:

  • The format is very Pirate's Curse so far. Much like if you put Pirate's Curse and 1/2 Genie Hero in a blender, with PC's gameplay style with 1/2's artstyle. From what I can see as well, it seems like you'll be travelling to different areas. There's three main areas to the island, which is a underwater city, a small beach area, and the hub city itself, similar to the other games' primary hub, plus Shantae's Lighthouse, and the swamp.
  • The other half-genies are really interesting. They also expanded out some of the lore stuff from other games. There's a few zombies walking around the island on vacation, as well as a full-on Zombie Half-Genie.
  • Gameplay is pretty much 1/2 Genie Hero right now, and Shantae has no transformations when you start. But that said, the layout of areas is very much like Risky's Revenge and Pirate's Curse, as opposed to 1/2 Genie Hero.
  • They've seemed to have listened when it comes to the oversaturation of collectables in 1/2 Genie Hero. Squidsmith is back for hearts, heart squids and monster cards seem to be the big collectables this time, the former being hidden in secret areas again, and the latter randomly drop from enemies.
  • Biggest and coolest addition to me - they've definitely gone full anime this time around with the art-style. While the characters in-game use the HGH style, the portraits very notably use a much more anime style. The reason for this is...
  • The opening isn't the only animated thing, there's full animated anime cutscenes.
  • Music is alright so far, although nowhere near as catchy as HGH got with it's soundtrack.
  • A bad change - Auto-Saving seems to be gone.
  • Also thankfully, they finally killed the dumbass running gag of Shantae getting fired and having to prove she can handle being a guardian genie.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
35 minutes ago, Sean said:

You can make that European versions in general - the game isn't out on the UK PS Store. Seems to be out on Steam worldwide.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just finished this 100% (all win screens including New Game +) so figured I’d type up some thoughts.

Overall it was enjoyable, and if you’re a fan of the series you shouldn’t hesitate to pick it up… actually, if you’re not a fan of the series, it’s still a pretty good time and one of the “safest” first entries into the series after the franchise having an eternal struggle of every single game having an asterisk on it as to whether it’s the best one to start with. It goes back to the original Metroidvania formula and the story is light enough to not alienate newcomers.

Pretty much all the usual stuff is here, cute girls, funny dialogue, memorable boss battles, and a basic gameplay loop of collecting new moves, doing overworld fetch quests and exploring dungeons.  The only issue is that… that’s kind of ALL there is.

What’s here is really good, but for all the joy brought by them finding a happy medium between Pirate’s Curse and Half-Genie Hero’s strengths, there feels like a lack of innovation overall.  There are no cool one-off setpieces in the game, the whole experience feels very formulaic.  Whenever there does seem to be a surprise twist, it turns out to be contained fully within cut-scene, with the regular gameplay resuming straight afterwards.  For example, trying to keep spoiler-free, there is one point in the game where you get a curveball and put into a precarious situation and taken to a totally unfamiliar location.  The situation is solved in the very same cut-scene, and the new location is exited from within a minute or so, where all that happens is you fight a horde of enemies in a closed off room (which is a Shantae series staple, with no shortage of them in this game) and then you’re back in familiar territory on the overworld and the fetch quests to unlock the next dungeon continue.

It doesn’t help that the environments are all a bit samey too.  Everything outside is beach themed, everything inside is ancient underwater industrial city themed with minor variances and decorations. Some locales are a little more unique, but this is a far-cry from previous games’ full spectrum of platformer biomes.  The underwater stuff WAS cool at first though and is new to the franchise, but it just feels like there was a lot of asset re-use with different colour palettes and backgrounds etc.  This is one of those things where I bet if I directly compared all these areas, they look fairly different, but they just didn’t FEEL different.

Combat is fine but it’s pretty much identical to previous games with the same spells and upgrades available from the shop that we’re all used to. There are a fair few new enemies but most are lifted directly from Half-Genie Hero. A lot of the platforming gimmicks and puzzles are also mainstays from previous games that don’t really feel like anything new is done with them. Back to combat though, it’s all a bit too easy. Bosses are damage sponges thanks to the high output of damage you can give using magic spells and shop upgrades and… Shantae is also a damage sponge, since you can load up on so many healing items that it would take effort to die. It stops becoming important to dodge boss attacks because honestly, even if you took the self-imposed challenge of not healing and dodging attacks, said bosses would take about 5 minutes to beat if you weren’t just spamming attacks at them while standing in harm’s way.  One more gameplay thing - it ticks me off how many caves there are which don’t really have any significant kind of gameplay challenge in them. You just go in, see that there’s an obstacle that you don’t have the ability to cross yet, and just then have to remember to go back there later. When you do, there’s no challenge, you just use the ability and the cave is solved, sometimes in a simpler manner than the tutorial puzzle in the room that you got said ability. It’s all a bit artificial and uninspired, far too many “square peg goes in square hole” puzzles overall.

Story-wise it’s a little disappointing too.  The new half-genies feel somewhat undeveloped and are hurt by their placement as formula-following macguffins where you have the exact same two-part interaction with each one of them to save them and then obtain a new dance from them. One does provide a just the tiniest taste of expanding Shantae’s backstory lore but Shantae literally says “no time for that now” and it’s not touched upon again until the ending… which still refuses to reveal anything.  I’m not sure whether Shantae’s personal arc about finding her place in the world and living up to her parents’ legacy is considered the be-all and end-all for the series’ plot so they don’t want to rush it, but this utter drip-feed of lore regarding it was honestly genuinely frustrating this time around.  Those gripes aside, the addition of animated cut-scenes and more voice acting was really lovely, although the jokes in said cut-scenes were all pretty typical anime cartoon fair. I’d like to see some of the offbeat humour that appears in the NPC dialogue make it’s way into the cut-scenes if they become a regular thing in future games.

The soundtrack is really nice as usual. It’s a little less consistent than previous entries since it was handled by a bunch of musicians, and it feels like they all took various different levels of inspiration from Jake Kaufman’s work on previous entries. The first half of the game is a lot lighter and lacking in those big unce-unce dance beats that Jake is so good at, but then the latter half of the game almost gets a bit repetitive by using them for every new area in a row.  Some tracks are massively over-used as well, like the mysterious theme used for caves but also for pretty much any area that’s meant to be mysterious. The fact that caves seem almost strategically placed to cut off all the overworld songs in the middle of each area, just before they reach the best part, gets a bit annoying too. I think for little 20-second caves in future games, they should keep the outdoor music going but muffled or something, or at least let it fade back in from where it left off when you return to the overworld rather than starting over.  The boss battle theme is excellent but also a little overused, since it’s used for minibosses, proper bosses, and even a few “bad stuff is happening!” cut-scenes and scripted sequences. Loses it’s impact by the end of the game.

Anyway, all of this sounds REALLY nitpicky and negative and I hate to be that way because Shantae is a series I have a lot of affection for, but I do think the series gets by on the good faith garnered by it’s appealing character designs and humour, and the gameplay just kind of rested on it’s laurels a bit here. My fear is that they just didn’t have the budget to do a ton of new gameplay stuff in order to keep up with the aesthetic standard that Half-Genie Hero set, which was naturally an enforced condition of them being able to re-use art assets from that game to begin with. Everything that gets added has to match that same quality. I don’t know if they could get away with re-using so much stuff a second-time around, which is a worry if, WayForward being a small company, they can’t afford not to.  But I think Shantae needs a shake-up for the next game for sure, since gameplay-wise, this one was just a bit mundane.

In spite of ALL the grumbling above, it’s still a fun game. While it doesn’t do much to innovate, the core Shantae experience is still really good, I still love tearing through screens of weak enemies with pike balls, the platforming is still competently designed, the characters are all still total babes (yes including Bolo). And the fact that they’ve made the animal transformations in this one instantaneous like Pirate’s Curse’s moveset is nothing but good, REALLY glad they made that change, it really makes a world of difference.  The new monster card system is also neat (though the seemingly TOTAL randomness of the drops does hurt it a bit).  The new dance abilities are a little overpowered in combat sometimes - quake makes fools of all the enemies that typically take some care to beat such as the Wetmen, and 100%ing the game by just combing through the entire map using the Seer Dance on everything was a bit tedious.  Having said that… doing the speedrun requirements for the secret win screens was weirdly very fun even though it wasn’t really the intended experience. I kept a map open on my PC with all the item locations now that I’d found them once, crossing them off as I found them and planning out each leg of my journey to maximise the amount I collected at high speed and it was fascinatingly moreish, was hard to turn off midway through to sleep.

Just… I’m really conflicted on this one I guess!  I really enjoyed my time with the game and yet can type paragraphs and paragraphs of stuff I wish was different.  Essentially I guess the conclusion would be that all the efforts that the team made to improve the gameplay from previous entries worked 100%, but all the stuff that is re-used from previous games is just starting to get a little tired now - heck, maybe it wouldn’t have felt that way if Half-Genie Hero didn’t have so many modes that re-used all of it’s assets over and over again as is!

So yeah… in conclusion, Shantae and the Seven Sirens is a really good game, there’s no reason not to pick it up if you’re a Shantae fan, and it’s probably one of the better choices for a new player since all the re-used stuff will just fly over your head! Just, within the context of the series overall, it’s not as substantial a step forward as I hoped it would be. It feels a bit more Shantae 1 -> Risky’s Revenge than Risky’s Revenge -> Pirate’s Curse in terms of how it compares to the last entry in scope/innovation. Which is fine, Risky’s Revenge was good too! But it’s hard not to hope for that same jump in quality and subversion of expectations that RR to PC had.  This Shantae never really surprised or excited me - I hope the next one does.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I  really liked the game, but it felt very easy, the refresh ability uses very little magic, making it easy to abuse and there's never a shortage of food items which restore quite a bit of health or heart pick ups. The whole magic combo thing felt really underwhelming  since it's used sparingly and doesn't do anything all that creative, and again is easily abusable when you get the later moves.  There were things I did enjoy like the dungeon design and the new animal forms.  Shantae and company remain as charming as ever too with the writrng and story being mostly enjoyable . lastly,  I was dissapointed by the bosses this time around, I felt the ones with Risky lasted too long and the others were just ok for the most part with the exception  of the later fights. The final one  just drags on though.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 6/16/2020 at 7:02 PM, Nina Cortex Jovahexeon said:

Making the fusion forms essentially glorified PNGs was nothing short of baffling. 

Not sure how they could have done this differently, they're all screen-wiping abilities that would have no need for Shantae to remain transformed.  Although I will say for a while I didn't even realise they were meant to be Shantae transformations, I thought the character that appeared was some kind of personified representation of the ability itself.

The only alternative would be if she transformed on the spot and did the pose there, where we'd never really get a great look at it.  I assume it was a budget thing.  They already redid all of Shantae's animations for her costume in New Game+ after all.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
52 minutes ago, JezMM said:

Not sure how they could have done this differently, they're all screen-wiping abilities that would have no need for Shantae to remain transformed.  Although I will say for a while I didn't even realise they were meant to be Shantae transformations, I thought the character that appeared was some kind of personified representation of the ability itself.

The only alternative would be if she transformed on the spot and did the pose there, where we'd never really get a great look at it.  I assume it was a budget thing.  They already redid all of Shantae's animations for her costume in New Game+ after all.

Maybe it's a game design issue then. All of the dances are just screen-wiping abilities. That's an issue in itself, no? I've seen gameplay videos where the player just runs into rooms, does the invisible objects dance or the bring flowers to life dance... They're fundamentally the same thing, but they're unlocked separately and much be used separately. Really basic lock-and-key-style abilities. It's not dissimilar to the issue that HGH had with its abundance of transformations, all with very specific purposes that were were entirely useless outside of any designated areas. SS streamlines it by not having full-on transformations for these abilities, which definitely makes things more palatable, but it doesn't solve the issue of quantity over quality when it comes to what Shantae can do.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Blue Blood said:

Maybe it's a game design issue then. All of the dances are just screen-wiping abilities. That's an issue in itself, no? I've seen gameplay videos where the player just runs into rooms, does the invisible objects dance or the bring flowers to life dance... They're fundamentally the same thing, but they're unlocked separately and much be used separately. Really basic lock-and-key-style abilities. It's not dissimilar to the issue that HGH had with its abundance of transformations, all with very specific purposes that were were entirely useless outside of any designated areas. SS streamlines it by not having full-on transformations for these abilities, which definitely makes things more palatable, but it doesn't solve the issue of quantity over quality when it comes to what Shantae can do.

Oh, absolutely agree, I was just defending the art assets side of it, which seemed to be what Nina was criticising.  I do think the Shantae series in general tends to frequently show a lack of creativity regarding puzzle design, and SS is one of the worst for it, particularly with the amount of caves that don't even have anything challenging to them, just literally "remember to come back here with the relevant ability".  A single screen with the entrance on one side, a collectable on the other, and a hazardless patch of digging dirt seperating the two is the kind of level design that shouldn't be seen outside of the tutorial room where you get said digging ability.

What's worse is the digging/swimming transformations themselves are both pretty shallow mechanics that don't evolve or get used in new, interesting ways beyond their introduction for the entire game.

I think playing Hollow Knight has really raised the bar for me on what a good Metroidvania is that the Shantae series has kind of been unmasked as being fairly shallow gameplay-wise.  Not bad, but it really gets by on the player goodwill of all the funny dialogue, good soundtracks, appealing animation and cute girls everywhere.  Which is tragic coz I really want to not just like but adore the Shantae series but I do feel the gameplay needs to catch up with everything else for it to grow out of just being a cult favourite franchise.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You know what really makes the Shantae series stand out among current western video game properties? How overtly and unashamedly sexualized the female characters are. And I'm not going to state my personal opinions regarding whether this is a bad thing or not, I'm just pointing out that, objectively, western video games in the last several years have almost completely moved away from the kind of sexualization of female characters that keeps being one of the Shantae series most well known trademarks. It's faschinating how the series refuses to change with the trends, if nothing else.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

You must read and accept our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy to continue using this website. We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.