Near the end of 2016, Wayforward Technologies released Shantae: Half-Genie Hero for the Playstation Vita, and it’s remained one of our favorite platformers for the handheld. A few DLC addons were released since then, and now they’ve all been bundled alongside the main game in an Ultimate Collection. Unfortunately it’s not available for the Vita, but this excellent value for money collection can be bought for PS4, Xbox One, Switch and PC. We tested the PS4 version.
Our Vita review is still up in case you’re mostly interested in the core game, which we’ll just summarize here. Shantae’s main adventure is a retro platformer with metroidvania influences that centers around collecting the different parts of her uncle’s invention. There are plenty of secret areas to uncover – many of which require you to revisit a previous location once you unlock a new power/ability. Some of your questing can feel a little random and you might even get lost, but there’s an in-game hint system that can help you with that.
The real star attraction in the game are its characters though, as well as the witty commentary they produce. On top of solid gameplay that’s easily recognizable to those who played the classic 2D platformers, Shantae: Half-genie Hero is a joy to play. With plenty of boss battles and game-changing transformations (that allow Shantae to do things like climb or swim in order to reach new areas), it’s easy to see why we enjoyed the Vita version so much.
The ultimate edition of the game comes with a ton of extras though – most of which were released separately at earlier points in time and which would cost you more than they do within this bundle. Some of them are unlockables like artwork that I’m sure fans will appreciate, and others transform the gameplay itself. Hero Mode is a good example of this, as it unlocks Shantae’s special powers right from the start without the need to unlock them by playing. Hard Core mode does exactly what you’d expect, but for me the real gems start with the various costume packs that are included.
They may sound cosmetic in nature, but donning a ninja outfit is more than it – it actually comes with side missions that you can tackle using the unique skills that the outfit grants you. Alternatively, you can dress up like a police officer or dress up in a bathing suit that’s exclusive to this edition during beach mode.
The Tinkerbat costume allows you to transform into a pirate, but something even better can be found in one of the two major story expansions that are included – Pirate Queen’s Quest. This addon lets you play as Shantae’s nemesis Risky Boots in her own story, and thus doesn’t just enhance the Shantae experience but adds what’s essentially a spin-off game into the mix.
A similar treat can be found in the Friends to the End addon, where you get to play with your friends Sky, Bolo and Rottytops in order to free Shantae. Once again mixing up the core gameplay, this addon campaign brings back memories of games like The Lost Vikings. Or, not going back quite that far, the Trine games. It’s a lot of fun to play, and adds a little puzzle platformer twist to the gameplay.
Both of these major addons, along with the other extra content in this edition, demonstrate how much love goes into a production like this. Not merely content to release a few extra levels and a quickly thrown together storyline, these two addon provide new types of gameplay that go well beyond what the additional costumes do for Shantae herself. If you enjoy retro platforming experiences, then the only reason to NOT get this package is if you already own part of it on another system.