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We will dance through the danger until the world is saved!
Can't stop me now, 'cause I'm Shantae!
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In far-off, magical Sequin Land lies a quiet port village by the name of Scuttle Town. It's a nice enough place, if it wasn't for its citizens constantly being under attack by vile pirates and countless other evils. Thankfully, like many other places in Sequin Land, Scuttle Town is host to its own guardian hero that can protect them in times of need. In their case? A cute, sassy purple-haired half-genie named Shantae whose arsenal of choice happens to be her Prehensile Hair and ability to magically belly-dance into various creatures.

An unabashedly quirky member of the Metroidvania genre, Shantae is a franchise created by Matt Bozon that began its life in 2002, at the extreme end of the Game Boy Color's lifespan. Upon the second game's release eight years later, the franchise slowly gained popularity as WayForward Technologies' flagship series. The titular character has since gone on to appear outside her own games as a playable character in other indie games such as Mutant Mudds Super Challenge, Runbow, Blaster Master Zero, Hyper Light Drifter, and Indivisible. In Nintendo's Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Shantae and her main nemesis Risky Boots represent the franchise as Spirits; the former also got a Mii Brawler costume based on her, which is included as DLC alongside the track "Neo Burning Town" from Half-Genie Hero.

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Games in the series

Main series

Spin-offs

  • Watch Quest! Heroes of Time (2015): A Mobile Phone Game exclusively for the Apple Watch. A combination puzzle-RPG, it's a Gaiden Game that features Shantae and Bolo, time displaced from the usual setting of the series. The title has the player aid the characters in undertaking a series of quests that update with new events throughout the day.

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These tropes are RET-2-GO!

  • 100% Completion: With the exception of the Game Boy Color original, depending on the number of collectibles and the speed with which players clear the game, they will be rewarded with special illustrations. This also extends towards the various DLC campaigns in Half-Genie Hero. Thankfully, the Monster Cards in Seven Sirens aren't required for 100% completion in that installment.
  • Action Girl: Shantae herself, as well as her Arch-Enemy Risky Boots. Shantae's personal theme song is titled "Dance Through the Danger," which includes lyrics about how unfazed she is by the threats she faces.
  • All Anime Is Naughty Tentacles: When describing the Dribble Fountain boss to her uncle in her Character Blog.
  • All There in the Manual: If you didn’t read the first game’s manual or WayForward’s statements on the matter, you’d be forgiven for assuming Uncle Mimic is the brother of Shantae’s human father, as he was the one who raised her and the games never try painting him as anything other than a close family member. He's actually an Honorary Uncle, as mentioned in those supplemental materials.
  • Already Undone for You: In the first game, Risky Boots enters the dungeons before you, and in later games Save Guys are a regular sight, yet all doors are locked and puzzles left untouched.
  • Amazing Technicolor Population: Risky Boots has lilac purple skin despite otherwise being a normal human. Meanwhile, zombies such as Rottytops and her brothers all have sickly green skin.
  • Ambiguously Brown: In perhaps the most literal sense of the term. Shantae's skin tone constantly changes in each new entry, with the only common thread being that her skin tone is always some shade of brown.
  • Ambushing Enemy: Water dragons hide within waterfalls, emerging only when lunging out to ambush Shantae when she passes in front of them.
  • And Man Grew Proud: The series is implied to take place long After the End of our civilization. Numerous references are made to an Old World, with all of the modern technology in the series being excavated and replicated by artifact hunters like Uncle Mimic. What exactly happened to the old civilization is unknown.
  • Animesque: The games' art style shifted into once Inti Creates became in-charge of character illustrations from Pirate's Curse onwards. Seven Sirens even has its opening animation done by Studio TRIGGER.
  • Animorphism: Shantae can turn into animals in order to access new areas or battle her enemies.
  • Another Side, Another Story: The "Pirate Queen's Quest DLC in Half-Genie Hero'' tells the events of the game following Mimic's completion of the Dynamo from Risky's perspective. The "Friends to the End" DLC is also a variant of this, explaining exactly how Rottytops, Bolo, and Sky got Shantae back to normal.
  • "Arabian Nights" Days: Sequin Land.
  • Art Evolution: WayForward's art style (as established by Matt and Erin Bozon) has evolved quite a bit, from the an angular style with full body proportions seen in the first game's illustrations, to the softer animesque style present in later entries.
  • Art-Shifted Sequel: Half-Genie Hero has a cuter artstyle where everyone has larger heads and shorter necks, possibly due to Graphics-Induced Super-Deformed. While not as dramatic a shift, the style used in Pirate's Curse and Watch Quest is much more detailed and Animesque compared to the somewhat more simplistic styles used in the first and second games. By comparison, Half-Genie Hero seems more like a cuter take on the first two games' designs (albeit using character design updates — such as Sky's corset and pants — from Pirate's Curse).
  • Attractive Zombie: Rottytops is drawn in the same cute anime girl style as the rest of the female cast (albeit with green skin and a stapled on arm and leg).
  • Background Boss: A couple in the series. Most notably the Empress Siren in Shantae and the Seven Sirens.
  • Badass Normal: Shantae loses her powers at the end of Risky's Revenge and in Pirate's Curse has to rely on pirate equipment.
  • Bag of Spilling: Shantae loses all her abilities and items between each game, and there's always a different story to justify it.
    • Between Shantae and Risky's Revenge, Shantae forgot her transformation dances; a villager handwaves that she has been skipping belly dance classes and that's why she can't remember them.
    • Between Risky's Revenge and Pirate's Curse, Shantae lost her genie powers.
    • Between Pirate's Curse and Half-Genie Hero, Risky took all the pirate equipment back that was hers in the first place.
    • Between Half-Genie Hero and Seven Sirens, not only has Shantae forget her transformation dances again, an early conversation with Zapple suggests that she also forgot about all of her forms except monkey.
  • Bare Your Midriff: Something of a series staple. The titular Shantae is a frequent source of midriff- and navel-focus as a Belly Dancer, but pretty much every single other major female character is young, cute, and shows off a slender stomach. For that matter, virtually every non-child female character — including villagers and some Mooks — bares her belly or shows just enough to reveal the belly button, suggesting midriff-baring is customary in Sequin Land.
    • In the (very rare) case a female character's abdomen is fully covered, she'll sport a Navel Outline, solidifying the trope of female belly button fanservice as something of a series hallmark.
  • Bat People: BatGals are humanoid enemies with yellow eyes, batlike wings on their helmets, and the ability to turn into bats.
  • The Beastmaster: Sky, a falconer, trains birds of prey. Her favorite bird is Wrench (who can act as a wrench), and in Half-Genie Hero can transform to monstrous size to carry passengers.
  • Belly Dancer: This is how Shantae transforms into her various animal forms. This is also her day job.
  • Black Comedy Burst: The series is very fond of quickly throwing in a dark joke here or there, from Shantae killing Sky's unhatched eggs to Rottytops' diet including puppy brains. One notably joke is that you can kill a dog in Risky's Revenge (and get an achievement for doing so); said dog appears in the Village of Lost Souls during the end credits scene of the sequel (the creators handwave it as the dog just getting lost, though).
  • Blob Monster: A Mini-Boss in the Dribble Fountain labyrinth. The Mud Bog in the first game and Mud Bog Island in the third are filled with various monsters of this type, and the second game features green slimes that spew bits of themselves as an attack.
  • Boring, but Practical: The Pike Balls (and their upgraded variant, the Scimitars) are rotating satellites that float around Shantae in a rotating circle. They aren't necessarily as cool as summoning fireballs or storm clouds, and certainly aren't as powerful as the Homing Rockets. However, as long as you have magic, they'll continuously do damage to any foe (including bosses) in their orbit until you turn them off; this is especially helpful when the enemy is out of reach of your standard hair whip attack.
  • Bottomless Pits: All. Frigging. Over. Interestingly, the Float Muffin item in the first game 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. Starting in Risky's Revenge, they conveniently emit skulls with crossbones to warn players on which pits are bottomless.
  • Call-Back: 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.
  • Calling Your Attacks: After getting a voice actress in the third game, Shantae will do this once in a while.
  • The Cameo:
    • Shantae in her monkey form made one in a WarioWare minigame.
    • The Drifter from Hyper Light Drifter cameoes in Kickstarter-backer versions of Half-Genie Hero in the "Pirate Queen's Quest" DLC. In exchange, backers of Hyper Light Drifter got a Risky cameo and sidequest in that game.
    • Shantae is one of several crossover party member available in Indivisible.
    • Shantae is a DLC character in Blaster Master Zero, vastly more powerful than the base character.
    • Shantae and Risky appear as Spirits in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, with collecting them actually being required for 100% Completion of the story mode.
  • Chaos Architecture:
    • Scuttle Town is vastly different in each games. Partly justified in that the inhabitants regularly have to rebuild it after Risky's repeated invasions. The unjustified bit comes in the distance between Shantae's lighthouse and the town, which varies being just outside of town to a long walk across a bridge.
    • Pirate's Curse brings back some areas from Risky's Revenge, but since the main action now takes place in new islands, the returning areas are massively simplified. The Pumpkin Field and Lilac Field are combined into the Scarecrow Field. The Tangle Forest is only one screen instead of the large, multi-layered area in the previous game. The Mayor's Seaside Retreat was at the end of a lengthy obstacle course, but now it's just a short walk away from Shantae's lighthouse.
  • Characterization Marches On: Shantae is noticeably more abrasive and short-tempered in the first game and Risky Revenge. While she still has a short fuse, Pirate’s Curse onwards emphasize her dorky and All-Loving Hero traits.
  • 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 originally his face! Another one from the same game are the dark pieces. Or, more accurately, the remains of Shantae's corrupted Genie half, which becomes VERY important at the end of the game...
  • The Chick: Keeping with the game's whole "girl power" theme, Bolo serves as this.
  • Collision Damage: In all the games. A general rule of thumb is this: If it moves, it hurts you. This even the case when you play as Risky Boots in the "Pirate Queen's Quest" DLC for Half-Genie Hero; touching Shantae during the boss battle will still damage the player.
  • Critical Existence Failure: Get low on life and Shantae will have a tired animation when she is idle. She can do all of her actions (jumping, whipping) just fine, but take one more hit and she explodes in a shower of sparkles.
  • 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.
  • Cutscene Incompetence: Sometimes Shantae just stands there during cutscenes when she really ought to be trying to save the day.
  • Daddy Had a Good Reason for Abandoning You: Downplayed. It's not Shantae's mom herself, but rather one of her mother's fellow Genie Spirits who tell her this in the good ending of Half-Genie Hero.
  • Dark Action Girl: Risky Boots, Shantae's archnemesis.
  • Dash Attack: The Elephant transformation can do this to destroy obstacles and enemies. It's replaced by Risky's Boots in Pirate's Curse and the Bonker Tortoise fusion in Seven Sirens, both of which require a short build-up, and the latter of which being much harder to control.
  • invokedDeleted Scene: That's what WayForward calls it, but you can tell it's just for fun.
  • Denser and Wackier: The first Shantae, while not lacking in comedic moments, was a simple adventure story about a girl who goes on a quest for magical artifacts. Risky's Revenge and onward jack up the silliness to the point that the franchise's comedy is now a defining trait.
  • Disappeared Dad: While Shantae regularly inquires about her mother, Shantae's dad barely gets a passing mention, and no explanation has ever been given for his disappearance.
  • "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune: The theme songs for both Half-Genie Hero ("Dance Through the Danger") and Seven Sirens ("Rise and Shine, Shanate") are performed in-character by Shanate's voice actress Cristina Vee.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: Starting in Risky's Revenge, no matter how many times Shantae saves Scuttle Town from disaster, Mayor Scuttle still regularly fires her whenever anything goes wrong.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: The early games were a bit wishy-washy about what Shantae's unique genie power was intended to be. In her debut game, it was implied that all genies were versed in transformation dances while the Ponytail Whip was what made Shantae special. Then in Risky's Revenge, Shantae's hair-whip remains with her after she loses her genie half, establishing that it wasn't from her mother's side at all. Seven Sirens finally confirms that the transformation dances are her actual special power, while still keeping the hair-whip as an unexplained separate ability of hers.
  • Epic Flail: Bolo's weapon.
  • Evil Laugh: The "Ho ho ho!" Risky lets out whenever she does something dastardly is more akin to a Noblewoman's Laugh, but it still qualifies.
  • Exploding Barrels: The boss battles against Risky's ship would be a lot harder if she didn't put these within hair whipping distance.
  • Exposed to the Elements: Characters won't fear cold despite being rather inappropriately dressed in icy places.
    • Discussed in the first game, when Rotty gives you directions to Mount Pointy (the ice area):
      Rottytops: Err... you don't have any warmer clothes, do you?
      Shantae: Why would anyone want to wear warm clothes?
      Rottytops: Heh! No reason!
    • Averted at least partially in Pirate's Curse. Frostbite Island's wintry weather obviously makes Shantae uncomfortable.
      Shantae: OH MY GOSH, IT'S FREEZING! I'll take the hot sand and burning lava any day over this!
  • Fetch Quest: A few in the games.
    • Finding baby squids and coffee in Risky's Revenge.
    • In The Pirate's Curse, one of the quests provides a short cut in one of the islands.
  • First Town: Scuttle Town, with the first stage usually being Shantae running into town to stop Risky Boots' latest attack.
  • Five-Man Band: Shantae (The Leader), Sky (The Lancer), Bolo (The Big Guy), Rottytops (The Chick) and Uncle Mimic (The Smart Guy).
  • 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. Especially pronounced in Half-Genie Hero with its gorgeous new graphics engine, where literally every adult female has varying but always generous amounts of bounce.
  • Game-Over Man: Risky shows up on the Game Over screen in the first and second games. Shantae herself appears on the game over screen for Seven Sirens.
  • Genki Girl: Rottytops. She's basically a zombie cheerleader/pirate girl who loves brains, especially Shantae's.
  • George Jetson Job Security: Almost every game, starting with Risky's Revenge, Shantae loses her job as Scuttle Town's guardian, only to be rehired by the end.
  • The Goomba: Tinkerbat pirates and their variations are pretty easy to defeat. Lampshaded in the manual, which describes them as pretty lousy pirates. The Tinkerbat transformation, however, is extremely powerful and versatile.
  • Gone Swimming, Clothes Stolen: Happened in her Twitter posts. Turns out, Bolo buried them after taking one look at her Empty Piles of Clothing and thinking that she melted.
  • Green Hill Zone: The areas outside Scuttle Town—at least, toward the east. Toward the West, and it's more of a Death Mountain.
  • Ground Pound: The Elephant transformation gains one of these if you hunt out its super attack. The Scimitar also functions this way in Pirate's Curse.
  • Guide Dang It!: It is a Metroidvania, after all, but it's more needed for the plethora of items you are looking for to get 100% rather than a complex labyrinth maze you need to navigate.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Shantae is half-human, half-genie. And all adorable!
  • Happily Adopted: Shantae and her beloved Uncle Mimic.
  • 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.
  • Harping on About Harpies: A transformation that lets Shantae fly.
  • Hearts Are Health: The health bar is represented by a series of hearts.
  • Heart Container: Heart Holders, actually. Some games use Heart Holders, while others use "Heart Squids," where finding four of them and going to a specialty smith unlocks more health.
  • 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. On a lighter note, in Pirate's Curse she jokes that she's probably a bad role model compared to another NPC thanks to her short temper and Bedlah Babe outfit.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: Despite being genuinely heroic, Shantae tends to suffer from this. In Risky's Revenge, she becomes the target of a vicious, unrelenting smear campaign by the mayor in retaliation for her failure to stop Risky from stealing the Lamp. Pirate's Curse takes it a step further by having her become a wanted criminal after assaulting the "rightful" owner of Scuttle Town and then violating her probation by going on the run with Risky. And in Half-Genie Hero, she once again gets fired by the mayor for failing to stop Risky from wrecking Shuttle Town's main street.
  • Hey, You!: How Risky Boots always refers to Shantae, constantly referring to her as an annoying brat. In Half-Genie Hero's Ninja Mode, she claims that she doesn't even know Shantae's name, stating that has so many enemies and enacts so many evil schemes that anything involving Shantae and Scuttle Town is a case of But for Me, It Was Tuesday.
  • Hot Wind: Seems that even the wind likes Sky.
  • Idle Animation: In Shantae Advance demo videos, she would re-tie her waist and adjust her top. In Risky's Revenge, she adjusts her top in a different way.
  • Insecure Protagonist, Arrogant Antagonist: For all the snark she loves to throw at others, Shantae has a bunch of insecurities and tends to put herself down more often then not. Many of her foes, in stark contrast, are often confident in their power to the point of arrogance, with the best example being the Big Bad, Risky Boots, who is the self-titled "Queen of the Seven Seas".
  • Interchangeable Antimatter Keys: In dungeons throughout the series, using a key once on a locked door destroys that key.
  • Interface Spoiler:
    • The original Game Boy Color game makes it was pretty obvious from the start there are twelve items, four dungeons, and four other things, while the dance screen also shows you all the transformations and towns ahead of time.
    • Risky's Revenge's map shows the entire game world from the start, meaning you can tell how close you are towards the end of the game by keeping up with what sections you haven't explored yet. Averted with the inventory screen, however, which only shows enough to display the current items you have.
    • Pirate's Curse shows you the number of islands. Subverted in that the last island is actually tiny and the last dungeon is actually the Sequin Land Palace. That being said, savvy players might have realized that the palace is too huge to just contain the Library.
    • Seven Sirens has four icons appear on the screen whenever using the powers of another half-genie. This is an early tip-off towards Fillin the Blank not being an actual genie.
  • Impossible Hourglass Figure: Most of the females.
  • Justified Save Point: Save Guys (yes, Save Guys) appear on the overworld in various locations, keeping track of our heroine's progress.
  • Kamehame Hadoken: The Flashbolt attack and the Fireball magic family.
  • 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.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: The fact that Shantae is Brought Down to Normal at the end of Risky's Revenge is such in Pirate's Curse. The fact that Risky and Shantae work together in Pirate's Curse is also briefly lampshaded in Half-Genie Hero's "Ninja Mode", where Shantae points out that Risky seems to have completely forgotten that adventure.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: When Risky robs Shantae of the magical stones the pause menu shows up and the four stones get removed from your inventory.
  • Leitmotif: The first few seconds of the title theme are reused quite a bit in Risky's Revenge. Risky Boots has her own Leitmotif in the first game. It's one of the clues that the guardian genie of Bandit Town isn't what she claims to be. Not that it wasn't obvious already...
  • 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.
  • Like Brother and Sister: Bolo sees Shantae like a sister, so she is off his radar when it comes to chasing women.
  • Lovable Sex Maniac: Bolo, pretty much. He has a crush on Risky, thinks Rottytops is cute, and brags that good looks run in his family — just look at his grandmother...
  • MacGuffin Delivery Service:
    • In the first game, Risky steals all the Relics from Shantae after Shantae collects them all.
    • Shantae expects this to happen again in the sequel, but is surprised when it doesn't... at which point she learns Risky instead kidnapped Mimic to force Shantae to trade over the Magic Seals.
    • In Pirate's Curse, not only does the Pirate Master steal all of the pirate equipment Shantae has been collecting, he also has Shantae release the dark magic she's been collecting for him in exchange for Risky's life. However, it turns out that the dark magic has since changed into light magic due to being in close proximity of our heroine, and so Shantae gets powered up instead of the Big Bad. When Shantae ponders this at the end, she learns that Risky predicted that outcome.
    • In Half-Genie Hero, Risky surrenders the blueprints to Mimic's Dynamo after that first boss fight. Truth be told, Risky had tampered with the blueprints so that the device meant to protect Scuttle Town would instead be used to corrupt the magic of the Genie Realm. She comes to collect once the device is fully functional, gloating that she tricked Shantae into assembling the MacGuffin for her.
  • Mascot Mook: Risky's Tinkerbat pirates, though they're not so much traditionally cute as much as strange and amusing. You can even turn into one if you play the original game on the Game Boy Advance, and Half-Genie Hero reintroduces the transformation to Kickstarter/Paypal backers who pledged $55 or higher.
  • Men Are the Expendable Gender: Inverted. A majority of enemies are female.
  • Mercy Invincibility: Taking damage will trigger this.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Shantae herself, and Rotty to some extent, but especially Risky.
    • It's safe to say that all female entities barring children, a few N.P.Cs, and certain enemies are Ms. Fanservice in one way or another.
  • Missing Mom: Shantae's mom "had" to leave her in order protect the human world from inside the Genie Realm. The same goes for all the other half-genies that Shantae meets.
  • Money for Nothing: While it varies from game to game, it really doesn't take much effort in any of them to earn enough gems to buy every upgrade and item in the shops. Half Genie Hero and Seven Sirens are the biggest offenders, as the process of replaying levels or exploring the world for hidden stuff as you unlock new powers will net you enough money to buy everything two-thirds into the game. In addition, the former has an optional dance you can buy that outright creates gems, while the latter lets you cash in excess cards for gems once you reach Armor Town.
  • Money Spider: Zombies in Pirate's Curse drop a gem when their heads are knocked off, then another when they explode. Defeating their bodies is also like to drop one, so farming money off of them is quite easy.
  • Mook Maker: The holes in the walls that continuously drop snake enemies on you.
  • No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup: Averted. After Shantae destroys the prototype steam engine that Risky Boots had stolen from Mimic in the first game, Risky continues using steam power regardless in the sequels.
  • Non-Mammal Mammaries: Sequin Land is home to mermaids, harpies, lamias, spiders, slimes, and scorpion-women among others, many of whom Shantae can transform into. All of them have visible breasts.
  • Omnidisciplinary Scientist: Mimic, who is apparently a historian, an engineer and an archaeologist — he found Shantae's lamp while on a dig.
  • One-Gender Race: Genies are Always Female in this universe.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: Water dragons are blue, reptilian monsters that hide within waterfalls and lunge out to ambush passers-by. Only their heads are seen, which have toothy maws, horns, slit pupils, and fins framing their faces. A red version lives in the lavafalls in the Oubliette of the Damned.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: Rottytops and the other zombies are as intelligent as anyone else, and maintain their intelligence and sanity by consuming coffee. However, they are not above eating brains, or in Rottytops's case, puppies.
  • Parental Abandonment: Shantae's mother was apparently raptured away into the Genie Realm; her father's absence, however, remains a mystery.
  • Pirate Girl: Risky Boots, and in Pirate's Curse Shantae herself is pressed into becoming one to make up for her lost magic.
  • Port Town: Scuttle Town is one, and it's where Risky Boots docks her ship.
  • Post-Defeat Explosion Chain: This is standard for bosses. Virtually anyone bigger than Shantae herself will go up like a string of firecrackers once defeated. They're also seemingly harmless; characters that have been thus defeated can show up later none the worse for wear, and Recurring Boss Squid Baron remarks that "you get used to it" after a few fights.
  • 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 actually inherited from her father or otherwise her own unique skill, and is not a half-genie power. Her self-taught belly-dancing transformations are.
  • Protagonist Title: The series is named after its protagonist, with the first having just her name. All the sequels, as noted by Shantae herself, utilize either a colon or the Character Name and the Noun Phrase formula.
  • Recurring Riff: "Dance Room", "Burning Town", 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).
  • Red Is Heroic: Shantae's default outfit is a red bedlah.
  • Running Gag:
    • In each game except the first and the fifth, somebody fires Shantae from her job as Guardian Genie of Scuttle Town, only to rehire her by the end of the gamenote .
    • In every game following the first, there is at least one gag concerning how the developers once confused "east for west" in the Game Boy Color game and wasted many a gamer's time.note  One of the characters in Seven Sirens even reassures you that she knows her west from her east.
  • Seashell Bra: The problem behind this idea is demonstrated in the following post in Shantae's Twitter account when she was trying to find something to cover herself after someone stole her clothes while she was swimming.
    • An averted trope with the Mermaid enemies, who are topless but undetailed. Played straight in Half-Genie Hero when we meet the Mermaids' titanic Queen.
  • Reverse Shrapnel: The Pike Ball and Fireball items.
  • 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.
  • Schizo Tech:
    • Scuttle Town hasn't reached steam power yet, but there's an automatic coffee machine, and the friendly neighborhood zombies have plastic explosives?
    • A four-year-old in Scuttle Town somehow has a digital watch.
    • One of Shantae's remarks in the recap mentions how the first labyrinth boss looks like something from her Uncle's animes.
    • The Ammo Baron's forces are kitted out with tanks, rifles, and "potato masher" stick grenades. He tries to upgrade his artillery to use computerized targeting.
    • Most of this might be Lost Technology, as some things are occasionally mentioned as explicitly coming from a previous lost era.
  • Scorpion People: ScorpGals are a recurring enemy resembling red-skinned humans with six-legged scorpion torsos, and are found in desert areas. They attack either with their stingers or with scimitars. There are indeed males (named Scorpman) who attack with their stingers at range, though they are rarer than their female counterparts, appearing in the GBC game and Seven Sirens.
  • Sensible Heroes, Skimpy Villains: Shantae was rather self-conscious about her appearance during the official recap, while Risky was flat-out stated to hate modesty in the OST Trailer. It's also pretty clear based on their character portraits in the games as well: Shantae will usually have rather unassuming or cute portraits, while Risky has more poses designed to flaunt her figure, including bending over and T&A poses.
    • Being a former antagonist of sorts, Rottytops flips the trope entirely by having no shame about her looks, and out of all the girls that got captured in Pirate's Curse, she enjoyed wearing her princess outfit the most.
  • Shifting Sand Land: The game does have a vaguely Arabian theme, so deserts are all over the place.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Shy Blue-Haired Girl: A purple-haired variant is hinted at in Risky's Revenge.
  • Sliding Scale of Silliness vs. Seriousness: Firmly on the silly side. The series wears how silly it is like a badge, with lampshades, fourth wall breaking, and meta humor all over the place. The games are able to put such antics on pause whenever things get serious towards to end of their respective plots though, such as when the Pirate Master shows up the third game.
  • Snake People: The Naga enemies. Prior to the release of Half-Genie Hero, a Naga form was even demoed and concepted for Shantae herself, while there's a Naga merchant who appears in several places in the game itself.
  • Spike Balls of Doom: Shantae's Pike Balls, which orbit around her body when used.
  • Spikes of Doom: Present in some places. Instant kill in the first game, return to the room's entrance minus a bit of health in all subsequent ones.
  • 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.
  • Status Quo Is God: Don't expect Shantae to find out any concrete details about her parents' whereabouts, or for Bolo and Sky to make any progress with starting romantic relationships, or Risky Boots to drop her villainous ways and become a good person.
  • Steampunk: Actually, the onset of Steampunk technology is something you're trying to prevent. Sequin Island is not ready. And when Uncle Mimic tries to make it ready in Half-Genie Hero, Risky is along to bugger it up.
  • Stock Femur Bone: Some of the enemies in the original game and Risky's Revenge disintegrate into these when killed.
  • Stripperiffic: Almost, if not every female character in the game. Primarily achieved through outfits that show off some bare bellies. There's even a stripperiffic zombie.
  • Super Drowning Skills: In the first game. She has learned to swim in Risky's Revenge though.
  • Trilogy: The original game, Risky's Revenge and Shantae and the Pirate's Curse are considered the "sprite trilogy". Double as a Two-Part Trilogy: the first game being a standalone story, while "Risky's Revenge" ends with a few Sequel Hooks that are directly addressed in "Pirate's Curse".
  • Unexpected Gameplay Change: There are a few.
    • In the first game, the (very unforgiving) Racing Minigame against Rottytops.
    • The Shoot 'em Up section in the Sunken Cavern in Risky's Revenge.
    • "Run Run Rottytops!" in Pirate's Curse, in which Shantae cannot attack, and must survive a long obstacle course while carrying Rottytops, with both girls as a One-Hit-Point Wonder.
    • The stealth section on Tan Line Island in Pirate's Curse, where most of the enemies are invulnerable and will send Shantae back to her quarters rather than hurting her.
  • Vague Age: Despite a brief instance of fans believing the titular character is 16, none of the characters have an exact age, with Shantae and her friends simply being defined as young adults.
  • Wall Crawl: Shantae can do this in her monkey or spider transformations. The monkey form lets her climb up side walls, whereas the spider form lets her crawl along background walls.
  • World of Action Girls: Keeping to the game's flavor, the vast majority of strong characters and a lot of the stronger monsters in this game are female. Of the few major male characters, Mimic is rather helpless and Bolo is a comic relief character. Also, genies are Always Female.
  • World of Buxom: And for that matter, pretty much every single female character fails to be lacking in the chest department. Gainaxing is a common sight.
  • World of Technicolor Hair: Natural hair colors unlikely in real life such as the purple of Shantae and Risky Boots, blue of Bolo, and green of Rottytops and her brothers, are all treated as nothing out of the ordinary.
  • Xtreme Kool Letterz: The Leetspeak-esque "ret-2-go". It serves as Shantae's catchphrase and originates as an in-joke in the studio dating back to the game Xtreme Sports.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: Every game from Risky's Revenge onwards will have some sort of tease about Shantae's parents.

 
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Shantae: Risky's Revenge

After defeating the Squid Baron, he explodes rather dramatically. This is lampshaded by Shantae later on when he comes back.

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