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  • Anti-Climax Boss:
    • In the first game, Risky's Tinkerbats have apparently forgotten to install weapons and defenses to her All-Purpose Steam Powered Tinker Tank, leading to a "steam-powered behemoth" that could only damage you if you jump on its treads or stand in front of its two external steam vents. This is more than made up for by Risky Boots herself.
    • In Pirate's Curse, The Pirate Master, if you didn't collect all the Dark Magic pieces. You'll only fight his first form, which doesn't have many attacks and plenty of openings to cause damage.
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    • In Half-Genie Hero, the final boss, Tinkerbrain. While he's a Puzzle Boss, it's much easier than the brutal fight against Risky that came before. He only takes two hits before going down, and it's relatively easy to avoid his attacks by just moving constantly. The second phase (assuming you did everything to fight the True Final Boss) is a little harder, but it's mostly just dodging a few flame attacks on the ground and having proper timing to bounce light magic past the gap in its shield.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • In Pirate's Curse, Shantae, Sky, Risky, and Rottytops are all seemingly mistaken for the princess of Tan Line Temple — whom they don't even resemble at all — while she is out on a shopping trip. Are the people (especially the royal adviser) really that stupid, or are are they taking advantage of the princess being out to "mistake" random passing girls as her so they can put them into "ceremonial garb"? It doesn't help that the adviser says that this happens all of the time!
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    • While there's no doubt that Shantae is a good person, one has to wonder if she's just snarky or a Jerk with a Heart of Gold. Is she really as pure and kind-hearted as she seems? Or, considering the way she kills some enemies and how cruel she can be to people like Bolo, is she more of an Anti-Hero? Friends to the End offers more fuel to the fire - some of Shantae's memories aren't particularly flattering in regards to her friends, and it's unclear how much of that can be chalked up to her being twisted by dark magic.
  • Author's Saving Throw:
    • After many fans developed Fridge Horror surrounding Wobble Bell (a dog you can defeat in Risky's Revenge for a truckload of gems, with its cameo in Pirate's Curse seemingly canonizing Shantae having defeated a puppy for money), Word of God clarified that Wobble Bell is actually still alive, and that its cameo in the game's resident Underworld is simply because it got lost.
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    • For players complaining that Half-Genie Hero is too easy, Wayforward released Hardcore Mode, which is deliberately aiming for the old-school Nintendo Hard feel. "Friends to the End" and the three Costume Modes are also far more difficult than the main game.
    • For players who preferred the moveset from Pirate's Curse, the Pirate Queen's Quest DLC gives you the ability to play as Risky Boots, with said moveset intact.
    • While Nega-Shantae didn't get her own story chapter in the base game for Half-Genie Hero (as the Kickstarter was funded just shy of that particular goal), she still ended up as the main antagonist of the "Friends to the End" DLC - and as one of the series' most serious villains yet!
  • Awesome Music: Which you can listen to here, here, and here for free, courtesy of series composer Jake "virt" Kaufman.
  • Base-Breaking Character: Is Holly Lingerbean an interesting idea for a rival character that deserved a bigger role, or a forgettable, inconsequential waste of space that has little relevance to Half-Genie Hero's plot?
  • Best Known for the Fanservice: You'll find people talking less about the games themselves and more on the incredibly revealing outfits of its largely female cast.
  • Breather Boss:
    • Risky's Oceanic Tinker Tub is fought twice in Risky's Revenge, and while it is a bit tougher in the second bout it has nothing on how much stronger Shantae is.
    • Steel Maggot in Pirate's Curse. Its only attacks are to either walk into you, or to shoot a spread of projectiles if you shoot the wrong button on its back, both of which are easily dodged. It's a "guess the sequence" type of fight, but there are only three buttons to shoot and the sequence never uses repeat buttons, so you really have nothing to fear.
    • The Wheel Beast in the first game. It's damaged by hitting switches on the wall in spider form to drop it into pits. Not only is it very easy to bait the Beast into falling into a pit, wall-crawling keeps you free from damage with no consequence.
    • Wilbur is a relatively simple puzzle boss at the end of Tassel Town, coming hot off the heels of a rough chase up the Tassel Tower and the player's first real experience with platforming over bottomless pits.
  • Complete Monster: The Pirate Master, from Pirate's Curse, is a feared pirate captain, and Risky Boots's former mentor. Back when he was alive, he personally assaulted Sequin Land, killing several genies before being imprisoned by the survivors. The Pirate Master would then swear petty vengeance on Risky Boots for mutinying against him, even though she played no part in his downfall. When the light magic of Sequin Land started to fade away, the Pirate Master turns Risky's Tinkerbats into Cacklebats, and begins to gather dark magic from the dens of evil, unleashing several curses on the nearby islands and attempting to lure Risky into acting so he can do the same to her. Upon his revival, he takes Risky hostage and tortures her for her betrayal, covers Scuttle Town in darkness, and takes over Sequin Land Palace. Once Shantae shows up to face him, he taunts her about the possibility of having killed her own mother before offering her a Sadistic Choice: hand over the dark magic she's collected, dooming the world in the process, in exchange for Risky's life. An cruel, petty tyrant who would show no mercy to anyone who would dare defy him, the Pirate Master serves as the most vile foe that Shantae has ever encountered.
  • Crossover Ship: Some people ship Shantae with Pit, due to their love of health-replenishing hot springs.
  • Cult Classic: The first game bombed on release, and the sequel spent years in Development Hell because publishers didn't want anything from WayForward that wasn't a licensed game or a casual downloadable title. Even so, the Shantae series still manages to have a sizable fanbase most other smaller games could only dream of, to the point that it was successfully crowd-funded to become one of the sleeper hits of 2016.
  • Demonic Spiders:
    • Shantae:
      • The Nagas are an absolute pain to deal with. They spawn in large groups, have a ton of health, even more so at night, and have odd homing attacks that are very hard to dodge. Thankfully, they are nerfed to the ground in future games.
    • Risky's Revenge:
      • The skeletons. They're fast, do more damage than anything else in the game, have plenty of health, and can reanimate after death if you don't switch to elephant form and smash their gravestones.
      • The mermaids. They have two attacks: a kiss which shoots hearts that move upwards, and a bubble that moves quickly (so if you're within hair-whipping range, you won't have time to jump over it) and close to the ground (so you can't crouch under it). After each attack, they dive into the ground and become invincible for a few seconds, so it's best to just jump past them then rather than take the time to kill them.
    • Shantae Half-Genie Hero:
      • The Batgals: they have the tendency to teleport after a few hits and then use afterwards a diagonal downward anchor attack that can easily tear a full heart of your HP. Have fun!
      • Bonelegs: They're enormous and have an absurdly wide attack range, and you often fight them in enclosed spaces. They're also one of the only enemies that can actually block your attacks, which makes whittling down their sizable health pools a chore. And they're actual spiders!
  • Easy Level Trick: In Half-Genie Hero. If you have access to the Magical Tiara and the third level fireball spell, you can easily clear the Barrel of Mermaids stage, as well as the escape sequence after destroying the Dynamo by hovering in place above the conveyor belt.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • Everyone seems to love Rottytops. To the point that, for Half-Genie Hero, the additional backers managed to push the final total JUST over the stretch goal to add her to the game.
    • After WayForward released the Half-Genie Hero trailer that featured a brief, well-animated scene of a giant mermaid boss you needed to unshackle by breaking her chains, the Giga Mermaid has become rather prominent in fanart, even more so after Cuphead came out with Cala Maria, their own giant mermaid boss.
    • Tuki, a lamia shopkeeper that you run into occasionally in levels, has a decent amount of fanart dedicated to her as well.
  • Even Better Sequel: While Shantae and Risky's Revenge were definitely well-received games, Pirate's Curse was where WayForward was allowed to really cut loose and do whatever they want with improved technology included, and the results show. Half-Genie Hero is also quite well-liked and considered an improvement in several aspects.
  • Evil Is Sexy: Risky Boots. In-Universe an NPC boy comments.
    "My Mom dressed up as the Pirate Lady for Dad. But I'm not allowed to talk of such things."
  • Foe Yay:
    • Invoked between Shantae and Risky. The opening scene of Pirate's Curse alone, with the bathtub, seems to indicate Risky has an interest in Shantae. Shantae, on the other hand, keeps trying to turn Risky to her side. While such personal level interest is part of the genre, Shantae and Risky seem to cross the line. Especially as Risky's very plan in Pirate's Curse seems to hinge on Shantae being Shantae. Indeed, the ending of Risky's Revenge seems to play with the concept. Risky is talking about stripping Shantae of her powers, but with the line break being where it is, it becomes "Strip you(line break)of your powers." That has to be intentional, since there is more than enough room to put the line break anywhere else.
    • While barely anything of the sort occurs between Shantae and Risky in the story of Half-Genie Hero, the very first two pictures in the first Fan Art room of the art gallery features the two of them and are quite shippy.
  • Game-Breaker:
    • Fighting the final boss as plain ol' Shantae? A nightmare. However, if you bring a full stock of Pike Balls and Fireballs, and/or use the Spider Venom, you'll be laughing all the way to the end credits.
    • The Oasis Town Gecko minigame in the first game. It's trivial to win over 100 gems in just a few rounds, and that's not even a big return for this game. Since it's a luck-based minigame, there's not even any skill needed to master it. If you have a run of bad luck, just reset and load from the save point located right next to the game stall. Once you reach Oasis Town, the only thing stopping you from having enough money to buy an overwhelming amount of every item while having enough left over for the Fighter's Gear is the patience to spend roughly a half-hour rolling dice.
    • Half-Genie Hero:
      • Collecting all of the Gallery Keys and using them to fully unlock the Art Gallery will have the Mayor give you some costume jewelry in exchange, the Magical Tiara. Its effect? Infinite magic. Except in Hardcore mode, where it grants gradual magic regeneration instead.
      • The Gem Jug transformation, which lets you generate gems at the cost of magic. Once you get your hands on a fully upgraded Attract (pulls in any nearby gems and health recovery), enter the Bath House's bath in Scuttle Town and you'll have an unlimited gem supply. The same effect can be achieved with the above-mentioned Magical Tiara. The only thing stopping you would be your patience for mashing buttons.
      • If you don't care for button-mashing, there are several places in Main Street where Tinkerbats will spawn in a neverending conga line if you stand in the right spot. Go back in with the Super Pike Ball spell, the Magical Bracelet, and an upgraded Attract to turn these spots into automatic gem farms. The Tinkerbats will drop refill bottles often enough to keep your Magic meter from running out, so you can farm gems this way for as long as you want.note  Since everything you need for this is bought in the Item Shop, you can use this trick to buy the shop's entire inventory—including a few of the game's other Breakers—before ever setting foot in Mermaid Falls. Also works in Hardcore Mode.
      • The Bat form. As SomeCallMeJohnny points out, proper use of the bat can break some platforming challenges in half.
      • 3rd level Bubble magic, which grants Invincibility while it's active. The game tries to balance it by having it eat through your mana fairly quickly, but the game gives you lots of ways to replenish your magic. It's especially silly when combined with the earlier-mentioned Magical Tiara, effectively making it the one item you DON'T turn off.
      • The Super Revive Dance completely heals Shantae for less than half her mana, making her nigh-unkillable after she's collected plenty of Heart Containers. It especially shines in Hardcore Mode, where even a Nerfed version of the Magical Tiaranote  is enough to fuel the dance indefinitely even against the Final Boss sequence.
      • The Obliterate dance does 25 damage to everything on the screen, every time you use it (your other attacks normally do between 1-10 damage per hit), with no cooldown. The drawback is its Magic cost, which is, again, easy to manage (just bring a stack of Mega Potions). Use it to destroy all the locks holding the Giga Mermaid in two hits, then use Flamethrower to defeat her second stage in seconds. Wait until Ammo Baron summons all of his flunkies, then Obliterate them all at once. Instead of hitting the Tinkerbrain's breakers one at a time, hit them all at once with Obliterate.
      • In the Friends to the End DLC, whenever Rottytops throws her head, time stops aside from her level in the Nightmare Realm and she's completely invincible until her re-forming animation finishes. Her head also does a solid 5 damage when it hits an enemy, regardless of her current level. Have fun chunking down bosses without taking a single scratch!
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff:
  • Goddamned Boss: Dagron in Pirate's Curse has a really simple pattern: you use a dash attack on the switches to drop platforms, and you jump on the platforms to hit Dagron in the face. Unfortunately Dagron's hitbox lurches back and forth so much that the "jumping" part of that sentence is liable to get you hit and knocked back.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: Back when the Kickstarters for both games were first up, two pictures of Shantae high-fiving Beck were made by both WayForward and Comcept. This led to backers of both games becoming Friendly Fandoms, and along came a slew of fan-art between the two. Unfortunately, Mighty No. 9 fell into a bunch of controversies (two of the most infamous being the constant delays and the "Masterclass trailer"), and soon both Shantae fans and MN9 backers started to grow disgust towards the game, leading the once-friendly fanart turn to Shantae trying to ignore Beck. With this in mind, this makes the above two pictures extremely awkward.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: In Half-Genie Hero, Ikki the Chest Monster is a tongue-in-cheek reference to Nikki, the cute host of Nintendo's discontinued Swapnote application. However, since then Nintendo has released a new version of the app called Swapdoodle, in which Nikki is back as the host, and Nikki also managed to make it in as an Assist Trophy in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate; in other words, Nikki/Ikki lives again!
  • It's the Same, Now It Sucks!: The biggest complaint about most of the DLC modes in Half-Genie Hero is that they’re sparsely-modified versions of the main game, just with minor new gimmicks added.
  • It's Short, So It Sucks!:
    • The main criticism toward Risky's Revenge. The map is quite small, and there are only three dungeons, one of which is just a timed enemy gauntlet without even a boss at the end.
  • Launcher of a Thousand Ships: Shantae has been shipped with Risky, Bolo, Sky, Rottytops, Link, Sonic, and Pit.
  • Magnificent Bitch: Risky Boots is the self-proclaimed Queen of the Seven Seas and Shantae’s Arch-Enemy. Seeking power and riches, Risky has made a habit of letting Shantae do the hard work before reaping the rewards. She has managed to disguise herself as a Guardian Genie to trick Shantae into giving her the Elemental Stones and kidnapped her uncle Mimic to force Shantae to give her the Magic Seals she needed to steal Shantae’s power and make an evil copy of her. When the Pirate Master returned, Risky enacted a bold scheme by teaming up with Shantae and manipulating her into regaining her powers without anyone knowing so she could destroy the Pirate Master for good. Returning to her ambitions of conquest, Risky feigns defeat so she could leave Shantae a blueprint she stole but had secretly tampered with which uncle Mimic uses to build a machine that corrupts genies. While suffering occasional bouts of anger, Risky always bounces back as fierce and cunning as ever and is feared for good reason.
  • Memetic Molester: The Hypno Baron is often depicted as such in fetish works relating to mind control, despite having nothing to do with hypnotism.
  • Memetic Mutation:
  • Moe: Cited by Destructoid in their review of Risky's Revenge: Your first instinct on seeing the female main cast is probably not so much "Whoa, that's hot" as "Aww, that's cute".
  • Moral Event Horizon: Risky seems to have crossed it as of Half-Genie Hero, when she tricks the heroes into building a machine that, when activated, corrupts Shantae's magic, allowing her evil-aligned genie-half to take control and putting her friends and everyone in Scuttle Town in grave danger. Risky then makes off with the Dynamo and leaves Mimic, Sky, Bolo, and Rottytops at Nega-Shantae's mercy, while planning to subject the inhabitants of the entire Genie Realm to the same fate. It's only thanks to The Power of Friendship that Shantae returns to normal, and even that was evidently something Risky didn't see coming.
  • Padding: Pirate’s Curse is full of it. Examples of note include the “Run, Run, Rottytops!” segment and the scenario that plays out inside Tan Line Temple.
  • Scrappy Mechanic:
    • Risky's Revenge has magic jams, extra currency that are needed to upgrade Shantae's magic abilities, in addition to gems. This has the unfortunate side-effect of not letting players increase her strength if one currency is lacking, lest they do a bit of exploring, and some of the jams are very tricky to find. They didn't return in the next installment.
    • Knockback in Pirate’s Curse. While other games featured it when attacked by certain enemies, Pirate’s Curse has Shantae receive knockback anytime she is injured, by anything, while in midair. This is especially irritating during the game’s several platforming segments, and while you can purchase a backflip maneuver that lets you control your fall, it’s not exactly easy to use on short notice, can cause you to backflip over safe ground that you would’ve landed on otherwise, and usually brings you further from the spot you were originally trying to jump to.
    • Pirate’s Curse also features Heart Squids, collectibles found throughout the world that can be used to extend Shantae’s heart meter...but that’s only by using a service that’s only available in Scuttle Town, meaning you’ll often have to backtrack there to receive the upgrades. While the squids are easy enough to find, most of the time, they do serve to add a needless extra step to the process, unlike in other games where collecting each individual Heart Holder was all that was necessary.
  • Squick:
    • Rottytops, a zombie, manages to break into a ruin by tearing her leg off at the knee and picking the lock with her exposed shin bone. Still cute, but rather disturbing.
    • How Uncle Mimic explains how he prevented triggering a pressure trap: by switching the treasure with the contents of his bowels.
    • One of the fishermen:
    "When I was a little boy with a full beard..."
    • In Pirate's Curse, two vacationing teenager girls who turn out to be Ammo Baron's henchwomen try to have fun in the island's water reserve, which is all dried up. You eventually help them get water to the pond for them to get into the swimsuits and go wild in it. What they don't know is that the water that's falling from high above is actually an endless stream of drool coming from a giant lizard, hence the name Saliva Island.
    • On a meta level, Shantae's debatable canon age of 16 definitely makes the rampant amounts of Fanservice surrounding her a lot creepier. Though by how much depends on your country's age of consent.
  • That One Achievement:
    • The "Run, Run, Rottytops!" segment in Pirate's Curse may take some trial and error, but it isn't that difficult. However, the "Zombie Survival Guide" achievement requires you to clear the entire segment in one try without getting hit, which is far more challenging. You also get only one shot to complete it, so if you get hit, it requires reloading the entire game to have another chance. There's no Easy Level Trick, either — it just takes good timing, expert platforming, and memorization to go through it in one shot.
    • Pirate's Curse also has the "Squid Savior" achievement. It requires you to find all of the Heart Squids in the game, but not use a single one to increase Shantae's maximum HP. Towards the end of the game, having only eight hit points basically turns Shantae into a One-Hit Point Wonder.
    • "Learn to Fly" in Friends to the End requires avoiding one of Sky's boomerang attack birds for 60 seconds straight, requiring her to consistently jump over her own projectile without causing it to curve at an angle that's impossible to avoid. It's got so bad that the most consistent method of obtaining this achievement is to take advantage of an out-of-bounds glitch that keeps Sky falling continuously offscreen without dying, which means her bird can't catch up with her.
  • That One Attack: Pirate's Curse's final boss can launch a row of gigantic bouncing cannonballs. There's almost no room for error in dodging the damn things since they have faster gravity than everything else in the entire series.
  • That One Level:
    • The entire overworld is harder than most dungeons!
    • In Pirate's Curse Mud Bog island has a bunch of enemies that chop off large chunks of health, and lots of cramped tunnels where it's hard to evade them, and as if that wasn't enough they respawn much more easily than the previous islands. Things get even worse in the Village of Lost Souls.
    • Also in Pirate's Curse, the Pirate Master's Palace: it takes multiple platforming sequences to reach the top, none of which have any margin for error allowed.
    • The Nightmare Realm in Half-Genie Hero's Friends to the End lives up to its name a bit too well, for similar reasons to the Pirate Master's Palace - it requires pixel-perfect platforming, sometimes into completely blind jumps, accompanied by a swaying background that provides very little reference for how you're moving across the screen. Combine that with the tiny health pool that Bolo, Rottytops and Sky have, and you have the makings of a very frustrating experience.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks!: The removal of transformation dances for the release of Seven Sirens was received negatively by some, as WayForward effectively ditched one of the core mechanics of the series just to appeal to overzealous fans of Pirate’s Curse’s style of gameplay, instead of simply retooling the way the dances worked to make them more convenient, thereby appeasing both sides.
  • Trapped by Mountain Lions: Pirate's Curse is dominated by a major subplot in which the Ammo Baron claims occupancy of Scuttle Town, gets Shantae fired and placed under house arrest, and proceeds to renovate the town to be more in line with his militaristic ambitions, up until he's forced out during the epilogue with minimal effort. This has zero impact on the main plot or gameplay, apart from using one of his cannons to enter the penultimate dungeon and then again when fighting the final boss. Otherwise it's a completely superfluous side-story that you have to be reminded of every time you go back to Scuttle Town.
  • Wake-Up Call Boss:
    • In Half-Genie Hero, Hardcore Mode immediately makes its mark by having the once laughably easy P.O.O.P T.O.O.T now be stronger than anything you faced in the normal mode.
    • The Beach Mode DLC has this as well. P.O.O.P T.O.O.T is still quite easy but the next boss, Giga-Mermaid, will eat you alive.
  • What Do You Mean, It's for Kids? / What Do You Mean, It's Not for Kids?: The Shantae series has a bit of an odd relationship with the concept of target demographic, with creator Matt Bozon stating in regards to the first game that it's "too sexy to be a kid's brand, and too girly for a male gamer brand." As a whole, the franchise mixes a cute art style and simple, lighthearted stories with odd bits of dark humor, many jokes that would go over a child's head, and a bevy of sexy character designs. The best comparison for the game's tone might be Betty Boop: broadly speaking, it's all-ages friendly, but there's a lot that would make you pause at giving the games to a kid to play.

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