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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 three games in the series (all for Nintendo consoles), with one more coming in the future (which will be for ... well, everything).
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 was released on July 15th, 2014.
Shantae and the Pirate's Curse, a direct sequel released October 23, 2014, starts off with Shantae adjusting to her new lifestyle when Risky reappears. Due to the events of Risky's Revenge, 20 of Risky's Tinkerbats have gained magical powers turning into Cacklebats, 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 Cacklebats to prevent this from happening. An International Co Production with Inti Creates. The game was released for both the Nintendo 3DS and Wii U.
Book Ends: When traveling to the first dungeon of Shantae the in-universe game clock will inevitably change to nighttime, prompting the music track "Night Travel 2" to play and making all the foes in Scarecrow Fields and Tangle Forest more dangerous. When travelling to the final dungeon of Pirate's Curse, the Pirate Master blots out the sun, you fight your way through those same two areas filled with tougher enemies, and an updated remix of "Night Travel 2" begins to rock your speakers.
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-crossable Bottomless Pit to reach a Heart Container. In Risky's Revenge, they conveniently emit skulls with crossbones.
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.
Chekhov's Gun: Not only did Risky's weapons once belong to her old boss, the Pirate Master, her iconic skull bra and jaw belt, seen in all the games, were his face!
The Chick: Keeping with the game's whole "girl power" theme, Bolo serves as this.
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, with the majority being of the zombie variety.
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.
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.
Heroic Self-Deprecation: Every time something bad happens that Shantae was unable to prevent, she beats herself up over it because she thinks her Half-Genie powers are no good for protecting anyone. In Pirate's Curse she thinks she's a bad role model with her short temper and Bedlah Babe outfit.
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.
The sequel still plays it straight, as its map gives away the fact that the game is smaller in scale compared to the original. You can tell how close you are towards the end of the game by keeping up with what sections you haven't explored yet.
Kick the Dog: Well, hair-whip the dog, in Risky's Revenge. You even get gems and a Steam achievement for it! In a less literal sense you also get an achievement for withholding the dog from its master.
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.
Mook Maker: The holes in the walls that continuously drop snake enemies on you.
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.
Prehensile Hair: Shantae's ponytail is a deadly whip! 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 or otherwise her own unique skill, and is not a half-genie power; her belly-dancing transformations are.
Recurring Riff: "Dance Room" and "Boss Battle" are each remixed in each of the games after the first, though with the removal of the actual dance room the former track serves as Scuttle Town's theme.
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.
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 Shoot 'em Up section in the Sunken Cavern in Risky's Revenge.
"Run, Rotty, Run!" in Pirate's Curse, in which Shantae cannot attack AT ALL and must survive a long obstacle course.
Wall Crawl: Shantae can do this in her monkey or spider transformations but in different ways for each.
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.
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. 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.
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.
Boss Arena Idiocy: The Cackle Mound boss, who fights in a room filled with Pit Trapsthat you could activate by using the Spider form on the switches on the wall.
Bound and Gagged: When Risky steals the Relics, she ties Shantae up as she takes them. It's not very effective, as Shantae gets loose a little after Risky leaves.
Charged Attack: The Fighter's Cuff allows you to perform one of these.
Clowncar Grave: Zombies endlessly spawn from the ground in the Swamp area.
Collection Sidequest: Shantae can collect Fireflies hidden all over the world , unlocking a secret dance once she catches all 15 of them.
Creepy Cemetery: There is one east of the swamp containing the Cackle Mound, complete with ghosts haunting the gravestones and the surrounding trees.
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 opening. Risky attacks specifically because Mimic and, more importantly, his Steam Engine are both located there. Subverted because the town recovers quickly.
Keep the Reward/Refusing Paradise: At the end of the 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.
Trap Door: Risky sends you to one to meet Tinkertank.
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.
Warp Whistle: Warp dance, actually. You learn them from a warp squid.
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. Notably, this does not carry over into the sequels.
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, which Risky used to try to kill her.
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 reasonable 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.
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.
Book Ends: Risky's Revenge begins and ends with a pan of the sky above Shantae's lighthouse.
"And besides, didn't you die in a giant 'Stage Clear!' explosion?"
Broken Bridge: Golems with picket signs, kindly requesting that you don't smash them, 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, after she beats the hell out of her magic-half in order to prevent Risky from using it. She doesn't get better until the end of Pirate's Curse.
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.
Chainmail Bikini: The Dancer's costume◊ present in Risky's Revenge for iOS and Google Play is very much this, though the armour is mostly aesthetic. It's still skimpy enough compared to her regular outfit that it only provides half the defensive coverage while boasting twice as much magic.
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.
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.
Friendly Enemy: The Barons. 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.
Genre Savvy: After getting the final Magic Seal, Shantae was expecting Risky to show up and swipe them like last time.
Hero with Bad Publicity: 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.
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.
Our Mermaids Are Different: 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.
Palette Swap: The Scarecrows and Knights get one. Also Dark Mimic and Shantae's genie side.
The Power of Friendship: Sky and Bolo decide to help Shantae in her job as the newfound Guardian- Human of Scuttle Town.
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: The end of Risky's Revenge, for both parties. Shantae had to destroy her genie half, and is thus now entirely human. Meanwhile, Risky took the opportunity to flee. The beginning of Pirate's Curse reveals, however, that the remains of said genie half have merged with her Tinkerbats, who became superpowered and overthrew her.
Rainbow Speak: Important items and innuendo are marked with different color in the dialogue. It is since been featured in subsequent games.
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: Ok. (Kiss!) Barracuda Joe: Okay, yer doing it again. Get going.
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.
Batman Gambit: Since Risky couldn't fight against the Pirate King's plan directly, she gave the Magic Lamp to Shantae, hoping that her Chronic Hero Syndrome would turn all the dark magic back into light magic. Further, remembering how Shantae handles a Hostage for MacGuffin decision, she gambles her life on Shantae with herself as the hostage (the light magic is useless while it's still in the lamp).
Guns Are Useless: In terms of fighting enemies, Risky's Pistol is the weakest attack in the game, though its damage can be upgraded to "decent" level.
Hammerspace: Risky's Cannon appears out of nowhere when Shantae wants to use it.
Horrible Judge of Character: Shantae's friends think that she's this when they find out that she's teamed up with Risky Boots and that she actually trusts her to an extent; warning her that Risky will stab her in the back the first chance she gets. Even the Pirate Master believes that Shantae's trust is misplaced, but it is ultimately subverted. Risky remains an ally to the very end, because her hate for the Pirate Master is just that strong.
Hostage for MacGuffin: Near the end of the game, the Pirate Master captures Risky Boots, and ransoms her for the Dark Magic Shantae has collected; but only if she has all twenty pieces.
Iconic Outfit: All the promotional material has Shantae in a Jolly Roger bandanna with swashbuckling gear; Risky makes Shantae take it off after only one scene, though the outfit becomes visible when using Risky's Boots Dash or the Risky's Cannon Double Jump. Shantae has it on when she uses the ship alone.
Late-Arrival Spoiler: Odd in that the game hadn't even been released, 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.
Malaproper: Shantae's attempts to talk like a pirate.
"Moist the main snail! Keel the port blubber!"
Mistaken for Special Guest: Shantae gets mistaken for the Princess of Tan Line Temple. As do Sky, Rottytops, and Risky Boots. For added hilarity, the real Princess looks nothing like them.
The Golden Ending requires hunting down all 20 Cacklebats. The Pirate Master decides Shantae really is worth fighting, steals his weapons back, and powers up to his final form. After a brief scrap, the Pirate Master offers a trade: the Cacklebats' dark magic for Risky's life. Luckily, the dark magic has turned back into Shantae's light magic, and together a re-powered Shantae and Risky Boots destroy the Pirate Master once and for all.
If you don't get all the Cacklebats, the Pirate Master just ignores Shantae. Risky escapes, but with no idea how she'll be able to defeat the Pirate Master.
New Game+: "Pirate Mode", where you start the game with all of Risky's pirate gear.
Save the Villain: Sky wants to let Risky get what's coming to her; Shantae disagrees, and charges up Pirate Master Palace to save Risky. In the Golden Ending, Shantae agrees to give the Pirate Master a large supply of dark magic in exchange for Risky's safety.
Sequel Difficulty Spike: Enemies start dealing a lot of damage around the time you get to Tan Line Desert, and the early-game Pike Balls were nerfed. On the upside enemies drop healing items all over the place. The platforming sections in the Very Definitely Final Dungeon are brutal.
Sprint Shoes: Risky's Boots. Shantae combines it with Risky's Scimitar for a devastating dash attack.
Squick: In-universe, Shantae has this reaction when she fills up a pool with monster drool.
Stupidity Is the Only Option: The Ammo Baron wants to fire a shell at Sequin Land Palace, and the only way to advance in the game is to give him the cannon's Targeting Module. Thankfully the shot misses.
During the Ammonian Army invasion of Scuttle Town, some of places Shantae lands is targeted by a crosshair and gets destroyed just after.
Some areas have a long platform made of crumbly rock platforms that slowly crumble as Shantae stands on them. They crumble faster than she can walk, however, so she needs Risky's Boots to actually cross without falling.
Turns Red: Squid Baron 2.0. Inverted visually, since he's red by default but dons a set of light blue metal armor.
Unwitting Instigator of Doom: It is implied that because Risky took Shantae's genie power away in the previous game, it allowed the Pirate Master who was originally beaten by the Guardian Genies to resurrect.
Vent Physics: Used in conjunction with Risky's Hat to ascend you to new heights or keep you afloat.
Womb Level: The top half of Sequin Land Palace after it becomes Pirate Master Palace.
You Can't Thwart Stage One: Shantae spends the whole game hunting down dark magic to keep the Pirate Master from coming back. He comes back anyway.
You Shouldn't Know This Already: It's possible to pick up Bran-Son's enchanted sword early (usually during a New Game+, though pixel-perfect jumping can also cross the hallway in question), but he refuses to take it back until it's plot-relevant.
Your Size May Vary: Risky's Hat is small enough for Risky to wear but also large enough for Shantae to use as a parachute.
Magic Carpet: Half-Genie Hero will have a chapter revolving around an annual Magic Carpet race.
Promoted to Playable: Certain stretch goals promised certain characters becoming playable with their own story and abilities in Half-Genie Hero. They have both been reached:
$500,000 for Risky Boots to become playable with her own story line.
$900,000 for Rottytops, Bolo, and Sky to become playable, though whether they each get unique stories is to be seen.