In the quiet Port Town of Scuttle Town, in the far-off Magical Land known as Sequin Land, a cute purple-haired half-genie with magical dancing powers at her disposal fights off evil. Released in 2002 near the extreme end of the Game Boy Color's lifespan, Shantae is WayForward Technologies' love letter to the Metroidvania genre. The series stars the eponymous Shantae, a sassy half-genie who works as the guardian of the town of Scuttle Town. Her arsenal? Her Prehensile Hair and her magical belly-dancing. Seriously.There are currently two games in the series, with two more coming in the future (one for 3DS and one for...well, everything else).
Shantae: One day, the evil pirate captain Risky Boots raids Scuttle Town with her army of Tinkerbats and steals the Steam Engine, one of the creations of Shantae's Gadgeteer Genius Uncle Mimic. With it, she plans to build an enormous machine with which she can use to take over the world—but in order to do so, she needs the Four Elemental Stones. It's up to Shantae to track them down before she does. The game is available on the Nintendo 3DS Virtual Console.
A sequel called Shantae: Risky's Revenge was released on Nintendo's DSiWare service for the Nintendo DSi on October 4, 2010. This time around, Risky has her sights set on a magic lamp recently unearthed by Mimic. Despite failing to prevent its theft and getting fired as the town's guardian genie, Shantae vows to recover the magic seals on the lamp and prevent Risky from using it herself.(Trailer here, soundtrack trailer here) In early September 2011, WayForward released a teaser e-mail implying that a Shantae title would soon be released on iOS devices, which was later revealed to be a port of Risky's Revenge. A Steam release of Risky's Revenge for PC has been greenlit, but as of yet has no release date. here.
Shantae and the Pirate's Curse, a recently announced direct sequel set for a 2013 date, starts off with Shantae adjusting to her new lifestyle when Risky reappears. Due to the events at the end of the last game, 30 of Risky's Tinkerbats have gained magical powers, overthrew Risky and plan to resurrect her former mentor, the Pirate Master. As per usual in situations like this, Shantae and Risky must join forces and defeat the Tinkerbats to prevent this from happening. An International Co Production with Inti Creates.
Artifact of Doom: The Magic Lamp can enslave any genie and force them to become a classic, wish granting genie to whoever holds the lamp, making the genie do anything they want. Shantae was only a half-Genie, so the lamp extracted said half and tried to kill her.
Badass: Shantae, killing armies of pirates, demons and undead with her hair since 2002.
Badass Normal: She loses her powers at the end of Risky's Revenge and in Pirate's Curse has to rely on pirate equipment.
Bag of Spilling: It's not explained where Shantae's equipment, items or health went between the first two games, but her lack of transformation dances is justified by her being out of practice.
Bare Your Midriff: Every single one of the major female characters is young and cute enough to get away with this. Even some of the female mooks get into it.
Battleship Raid: The enormous mechanical Tinkertank near the end of the first game.
Beef Gate: Going immediately West of Scuttle Town in the beginning of the game will send you headlong into the game's naga enemies—who all have a ton of health, fairly quick movements, and a homing screech attack that can kill you dead even from a distance. Since Shantae's main attack never gets stronger, you'll want to stock up on items, get a few Heart Holders, and maybe pick up some Fighter's Equipment before blazing into them. (If you make it past using either brute force or Vanish Cream, you'll find a typical Broken Bridge in the form of a monkey-climbing wall.)
Beware My Stinger Tail: The scorpion people in the desert outside Oasis Town in the first game. The female variant just swipes at you when you come close, but the males will jab their stinger through the ground to hit you from farther away.
Ammo Baron, judging by the information about the upcoming third game, Pirate's Curse. In Risky's Revenge, he's The Unfought on account of being a pretty nice guy behind that boisterous attitude. In Pirate's Curse, he's a recurring antagonist who tries to conquer Scuttle Town by force with an army of tanks.
Bizarrchitecture: There are a few upside-down pyramids floating in the skies above the desert, one of which is the legendary Spy Scope, which you need to find in order to enter the final dungeon.
Blob Monster: A Mini-Boss in the Dribble Fountain labyrinth. The Mud Bog is also filled with various monsters of this type. In the second game Risky's Revenge there are small green slimes that spew bits of themselves as an attack.
Later, Risky also decides to have Shantae be destroyed by the Tinkertank in what she thinks would be a Hopeless Boss Fight. Unfortunately for her, the Tinkerbats hadn't finished installing weapons or a defense system on the tank, resulting in a very easy Puzzle Boss and all her plans for world domination going up in smoke.
Book Ends: Risky's Revenge begins and ends with a pan of the sky above Shantae's lighthouse.
Boss Arena Idiocy: The Cackle Mound boss in the first game, who fights in a room filled with Pit Trapsthat you could activate by using the Spider form on the switches on the wall.
Bottomless Pits: All. Frigging. Over. Interestingly, the Float Muffin item actually renders them harmless to you for a short period of time—and you actually need to use it in one place to cross a long, un-jumpable Bottomless Pit to reach a Heart Container. In Risky's Revenge, they conveniently emit skulls with crossbones.
"And besides, didn't you die in a giant 'Stage Clear!' explosion?"
Broken Bridge: In Risky's Revenge, golems are scattered in various parts of the world, preventing Shantae from entering those areas until she learns the Elephant Dance.
Brought Down to Normal: Shantae, at the end of Risky's Revenge, where she beats the hell out of her magic-half in order to prevent Risky from using it. She doesn't get better...yet.
Pirate's Curse begins in the aftermath of Risky's Revenge and Shantae's powers are still nullified, forcing her to learn how to fight like a pirate from Risky when a mutual threat rears its head.
The Kickstarter for Half-Genie Hero strongly implies, if not outright states, that her powers will be returned by the end of Pirate's Curse. Then again, the staff refuse to give a clear answer on when Half-Genie Hero takes place, with the music producer implying (but not outright stating) that it may be a complete reboot.
Bubble Gun: Shantae's Mermaid transformation can attack like this.
But Thou Must: At the end of Risky's Revenge, you're given the choice of whether or not to trade the magic seals for Uncle Mimic. Saying no makes Shantae announce that she doesn't have a choice, and she hands the seals over anyway.
Shantae in her monkey form made one in a WarioWare minigame.
For those who backed with pledges over $12 on Kickstarter will get a code and The Drifter from Hyper Light Drifter will make a cameo in Half-Genie Hero in Risky Mode to give her a quest. In exchange, backers of Hyper Light Drifter will get a Risky cameo and sidequest in that game.
Cosplay: An NPC boy says his mom dressed up as Risky for his dad. *wink*
Creepy Cemetery: The first game had one to the right of the swamp containing the Cackle Mound, complete with ghosts haunting the gravestones and the surrounding trees.
Cute Monster Girl: For starters, there's Shantae herself, including some of her alternate forms. Then there's people like Rottytops and other members of the Zombie Caravan. Also quite a few female Mooks, like the Nagas and the Archers... Basically, Cute Monster Girls are kinda all over the place.
Dash Attack: The Elephant transformation can do this to destroy obstacles and enemies.
Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: Dying sends you back to the beginning of a room, while getting a Game Over sends you back to the last save point. All of your items and progress are saved, so the only penalty is time lost walking back to the last area. If you die transformed, you'll even stay in the same animal form. This only applies to the first game.
Doomed Hometown: Half of Scuttle Town is set on fire by marauding pirates in the first stage of the game. Risky attacks specifically because Mimic and, more importantly, his Steam Engine are both located there. Subverted because the town recovers quickly.
Warp Squids and Warp Squid-like objects are common finds in Sequin Land.
The sequel has the Squid Baron. He has a Heel-Face Turn and will help you in exchange for finding his golden babies.
Evil Is Petty: Rottytops and her brothers kidnapped Mimic in exchange for cash, the chance to eat Shantae's brain and a lifetime supply of coffee, though that last bit is not as petty as it seems; zombies in this continuity can only retain their cognitive brain functions by drinking coffee. Still doesn't excuse Rotty selling out her best friend, though.
Evil Laugh: The "Ho ho ho!" Risky lets out whenever she does something dastardly doesn't sound like most villains' Evil Laughs, but it still qualifies.
Face-Heel Turn: Rottytops and her brothers, for a ridiculous reason (Shantae's brains and lifetime supply of coffee). They are visibly regretful when Risky refuses to pay up.
Fake Difficulty: There's plenty of it in the first game. The most obvious example being the enemies in the first real area that love to jump out of the ground directly below you, damaging you. There is absolutely no way to avoid it aside from never being close to the ground, which happens to be impossible until very late in the game. Some enemies like to use homing shockwave attacks before you can see them. Due to how little of the surrounding area the game shows, since the sprites are so big, there are a lot of Leaps of Faith. Some enemies hover just above where you can see them, so if you're unlucky and jump near them, you get an unavoidable hit. Sometimes it's impossible to tell where you can land, meaning you can hit enemies or other, instant death-inducing, hazards. Averted in Risky's Revenge, which even shows you which holes that are harmful.
Flash of Pain: Some enemies and bosses do that when hit, others don't. In Risky's Revenge, all the enemies flash.
Friendly Enemy: The Barons in the second game. The Squid Baron was fighting because its children were being held hostage. The Ammo Baron is never fought, and the Mayor says he'll just talk with him to reclaim the deed to the town. The third Baron may have been actively trying to warn and help Shantae.
This risque comment from Risky, after swiping the lamp:
Risky Boots: "Now hoist my booty into the air, and put your back into it."
Gainaxing: It actually really shows off both games' gorgeous animation, especially considering the limits of the Game Boy Color. Shantae will even adjust her top if you stand idle for a while in Risky's Revenge.
The Goomba: Tinkerbat pirates and their variations are pretty easy to defeat. Lampshaded in the manual which describes them as pretty lousy pirates. Surprisingly however the Easter Egg Tinkerbat transformation is extremely powerful and versatile.
Hard Levels, Easy Bosses: Boss battles in the games are often simple affairs save for the Final Boss, in contrast to the levels that are filled with painful enemies and tricky jumps over pits and spikes.
Hero with Bad Publicity: In Risky's Revenge, enraged over Shantae's failure to stop the lamp heist, Mayor Scuttlebutt not only fires her from the guardian job, but starts up an aggressive public smear campaign against her.
Interface Spoiler: The sequel averts this by having spots on your inventory screen simply not exist until you have the item that goes there. The original, however, played it straight: It was pretty obvious from the start there were twelve items, four dungeons, and four other things. The dance screen also shows you all the transformations and towns ahead of time.
In-Universe Game Clock: Monsters ramp up the cheap in the night, and towns change. This is dropped in the sequel.
Keep the Reward/Refusing Paradise: At the end of the first game, Shantae is given the chance to become a full genie like she's always wanted, but she refuses as it would mean leaving her family and friends forever.
Kung-Fu Wizard: Uses a lot of powerful magical items and spells, but is still a kick-ass unarmed fighter while in human form after purchasing the fighter's equipment.
Late Arrival Spoiler: Odd in that the game hasn't been released yet but, Shantae appears to have her Genie powers back by the beginning of Half Genie Hero meaning she gets them back during the course of Pirate's Curse.
Leitmotif: The first few seconds of the title theme are reused quite a bit in Risky's Revenge.
Let's Play: On YouTube, a user named Brickroad did a 59-part Let's Play of Shantae. You can find it here. WayForward actually linked to this LP on their official site... and when they heard that Brickroad would be unable to play Risky's Revenge because he didn't have a DSi, they bought him one. Several of the LP's injokes even make it into Risky's Revenge!
A guy called SilverDSlite did a Let's Play of the sequel on YouTube, claiming it to be the first Risky's Revenge LP on the site. It can be found here.
Brickroad has also done his own Let's Play of Risky's Revenge, using the iOS version, apparently at the behest of WayForward.
Mummy: An enemy type in Risky's Revenge. They explode when defeated.
Must Have Caffeine: Rottytops and the other zombies keep their human intelligence with coffee.
My God, What Have I Done?: Rottytops wasn't too keen on selling Shantae out in the first place, but when Risky refuses to keep her end of the bargain, Rotty breaks down and runs off weeping.
Nintendo Hard: Shantae's default attack is somewhat short-range. Add in the fact that many enemies require multiple hits to beat, and that her normal attack never gets stronger.
In the first game, Shantae did not restart the room with full health after dying, and enemies in the overworld had twice as much health at night.
Largely alleviated in the sequel; Shantae has much more health, enemies overall have less health, magic items are much more helpful, and her basic attack has a much longer range and can be upgraded at the store.
Our Mermaids Are Different: In the sequel, mermaids appear as enemies in the fittingly-named Mermaid Cliffs. They can hide in puddles of water and turn into small fish when killed. Shantae herself can learn a belly dance that transforms her into a green-skinned mermaid, a pretty standard version for the most part, but can also shoot exploding bubbles.
The Power of Friendship: Sky and Bolo decide to help Shantae in her job as the newfound Guardian- Human of Scuttle Town.
Prehensile Hair: Take that, Bayonetta, this gal was doing it long before you, and she doesn't even have to get naked to do so! According to the rules of the 'verse, half-genie powers are almost always "quirky," such as having prehensile hair or being able to shoot milk out of your eye. Risky's Revenge suggests her prehensile hair was inherited from her father, and is not a half-genie power; her belly-dancing transformations are.
Promoted to Playable: If certain stretch goals are reached, certain characters can become playable with their own story and abilities in Half-Genie Hero.
$500,000 has been reached, Risky Boots becomes playable with her own story line.
If $900,000 is reached, Rottytops, Bolo, and Sky can become playable.
Pun: Zombies communicate with each other via spiderwebs, in a manner resembling a message board or forum. Cue web, net, bug, and worm jokes.
Pyrrhic Victory: Shantae manages to thwart Risky again, but not without the hefty cost of her half-genie magical powers, reducing her to a human. On top of that, Risky escapes, free to carry out whatever dastardly plan she has next.
Rainbow Speak: Important items and innuendo are marked with different color in the dialogue of Risky's Revenge.
Barracuda Joe: Take [this key]. It's yours. Shantae: Thanks, Barracuda Joe! You're a lifesaver! (Kiss!) Barracuda Joe: Don't say "kiss" to me unless you're actually givin' me a kiss. Otherwise it's just words. Okay? Shantae: Okay. (Kiss!) Barracuda Joe: Okay, yer doing it again. Get going.
Scary Scarecrows: Enemies in the games. In the first game they come out from the tall background grass in certain areas continuously. In Risky's Revenge they can either walk, throw exploding pumpkins, or spew some sort of gas.
Self-Deprecation: The first game had an infamous part when both Sky and Mimic told you to go East to reach Mount Pointy and the Twilight Dungeon since going West to that place will make you hit an impassable wall. As every player who followed this found out, they had their directions backwards. Wayforward pokes fun at this error near the end of the Risky's Revenge sequel, which has Bolo confusing East with West while discussing the location of Risky's hideout, leading to the following exclamation.
Many other WayForward games pay tribute to Shantae in them somewhere; Risky's Revenge features several references to other games developed by the company.
One of the alternate costumes in Half-Genie Hero is the uniform of Patty Wagon from Mighty Switch Force!.
Thanks to Brickroad's Let's Play, there's a character in the second game called Barracuda Joe.
If you watched BR's LP, you should remember the point where he threw a fit after realizing that Sky told him to go the wrong way. In Risky's Revenge, Sky scolds Bolo's sense of direction: "What kind of moron doesn't know EAST from WEST?"
Sprite Comic: There is one made by Matt Bozon in the original Shantae website's Gallery called "Bolo gets Taken Out". In short, it is about the girls of Shantae trying to get a date with Bolo for the Harbor Town Festival the next day but he already is going with Risky. Shantae kicks him in the end.
The Ammo Baron, since he turns out not to be a villain at all. He gains ownership of Scuttle Town without a fight, and doesn't do much other than rename it Ammo Town.
Risky and Shantae fight one-on-one in the first game but not in the second. In the second game Risky does attack Shantae with her ship, though.
Unwinnable: It's possible to reach the fourth dungeon boss early, without having picked up the Harpie transformation dance. Cue Hopeless Boss Fight, as the only way to make the boss damageable is to first fly above it and smack it in the head. Dying puts you in the same room, so the only way to get out is to get a Game Over or reset, meaning you have to play the whole dungeon again.
Video Game Flight: The Harpie transformation. You can fly anywhere, but you don't get it until the last level, and it has no attack to begin with. Finding the Harpie's Talon, however, bestows upon it the single most powerful singular attack in the game that doesn't require charging. Still hard to use, though.
Wall Crawl: Shantae can do this in her monkey or spider transformations but in different ways for each.
Warp Whistle: Warp dance, actually. You learn them from a warp squid.
What Could Have Been: Various stretch goals weren't reached for Half-Genie Hero: two levels; additional story modes for Rottytops, Bolo, and Sky; voice work; and animation. They may still be possible if WayForward gets enough Paypal donations.
Wrap Around: The overworld wraps around horizontally. The world is even stated to be shaped like a ring. On a smaller scale, all the towns do this, too.
Averted in the sequel, where the map has distinct end-points.
Wrench Wench: Of all people, Sky. Spoiler worthy if you never played the first game.
Xtreme Kool Letterz/Letters 2 Numbers: The Leetspeak-esque "ret-2-go". They used it again in the announcement of a release date for the sequel. In a sense, it is a sort of inside joke for WayForward; they used the same line in their lesser-known game Xtreme Sports.
You, Get Me Coffee: Shantae has to retrieve coffee in one quest. It turns out it's what keeps Rottytops and her brothers from becoming regular, slow and dumb zombies.
You Gotta Have Purple Hair: Shantae and Risky Boots (although Risky's sprite in the first game has purple skin and black hair, thanks to the GBC's limited palette); Rottytops has green hair.
Younger Than They Look: Shantae is actually 15/16 years old, despite what the fanbase would want you to think.