Recently, I was exploring Xbox’s Game Pass. If you do not have a subscription to it, you need to get on. It is completely worth your $10 a month to have access to download and play hundreds of games for free. That is not the reason I have called you all here today, though. Within the last week, I was searching for something to play. I noticed the new games of the month added to Game Pass included a game called Shantae: Half-Genie Hero. Having never played the series before, I ventured and found the previous game in the series, Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse.

After doing a little research on the series, I saw that Pirates Curse is the third game in the four-game series. Story-wise it was a little confusing having no idea of the previous games. What I found from the gameplay completely made up for that confusion. In my six hours of game time, I witnessed a wide variety of environments, filled with colorful characters.  The six islands of the game go from a zombie-infested island to a winter area populated with wolves. This is not a terribly long game. Each island (besides when coming back) takes about a little more than an hour to beat.

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Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse is a game that took me back to the 90s better than any other game I have played in the last 18 years. Maybe it was because I was playing a character who is half-genie, but it gave me constant flashes of playing Aladdin on the Super Nintendo, but in a Metroidvania style where I had the freedom to come back to prior levels with new upgrades. Add in the little humorous moments, and this game hooked me.

Another aspect of the game I loved was the in-between dungeon missions you are given. These are necessary to progress the story and help flesh out the world’s characters even more. An early one tasks you with finding a vacation idea for a former filler boss so that he will give you an item to fix a wagon on another island. To get the traveling brochure, you have to dig through a sewer where it was dropped which is an area that you need a certain upgrade to get past.

The way I have laid it out may make it seem complicated, but these are tasks that you do not have to do a ton of backtracking for, and the game does not tell you specifically where to go. That might be what I like most about these missions. There is always a hint to how to proceed without the hand-holding that some other games might go for.

The dungeons themselves reminded me of the Legend of Zelda dungeons. Each one has a specific item in it that completely changes the way you play the game. One includes a scimitar that gives a rush attack. Another allows for a triple jump. Each one becomes imperative to finding items on past islands and opens up new movement options. I found that jumps that were slightly out of my normal reach were accessible because the glide move gives you a slight burst up. It is these kind of touches that make this game so dam addicting.

The boss battles at the end of each dungeon are great fun and never become too frustrating. Most of them were pretty easy, each having the main item of that dungeon be the tool to open weak spots for Shantae’s hair whip.

If you have not played any of the Shantae games yet, I recommend giving them a try. If you love 2D platforming games, Shantae and the Pirates Curse is a game you need to try out. It is not a long game and is good for a refreshing take on current video games. The game knows what it is, with the characters referencing different aspects of throughout the dialogue. I hope it fills you with the same memories of playing the Super Nintendo or Sega Genesis that it did for me.

Got any great games like this to take people back? Let us know in the comments!

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