Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse Review

I didn’t have access to a computer outside of my laptop for a little over a week (and I refuse to play games on it because it’s my baby and gaming can be pretty harsh on laptops since they’re not great at getting rid of heat), so it seemed like the perfect time to grab my 2DS and jump back into Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse. If you haven’t read my review of the previous game, this is something that I initially stopped playing in order to finish Risky’s Revenge—the second game in the series and the beginning of what could affectionately be considered “modern Shantae”—and thus have a better handle on how many of the characters know each other. It’s also helpful since the events of the last game are occasionally mentioned and could be considered spoilers for anyone sensitive to that kind of thing. Read more →

Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse Screenshots

3DS games are a pain to make screenshots for. You have to go into Miiverse, sit through the long opening screen with the creepy devil children, hope that it’s not down for maintenance (which happened while making these screenshots), save the top screen, back out to get to the previous menu, save the bottom screen, and finally return to the game. Even then, you still have to visit Miiverse on a computer to save the shots, and that’s not getting into the time it takes to put the top and bottom screens together in Photoshop. Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse managed to be even more of a hassle because the “return to game” button jacked up the game’s brightness for whatever reason, something that was only fixed by hitting the menu button and then returning to the game, and it’s stuff like this that makes PC gaming so much more appealing as a whole; for those like me who insist on capturing everything that happens in a game, ending up with anywhere between 500-4000 screenshots in the process, a single press of F12 is so much faster than the 30-45 second process (at best) that goes into each 3DS picture. Read more →

Okami Review

Ordinarily, I only use this site’s wider format for games I enjoyed overall, but I’m making an exception here because this is going to be long and I need the space. That’s not to say that I hated the entirety of Okami, though—there’s a slice of this game so good that I was able to see why it’s ended up on so many “best games ever made” lists. The first third of the game was painful and unimpressive, sure, but I was totally on board by the second third when things suddenly got awesome. Then the unnecessary, overlong, underwhelming last third of the game happened. How could I possibly recommend a game that I hated two-thirds of? My notes were overflowing with complaints about almost everything from the mechanics to the story to the quest design and even the graphics at certain points, and why it finally got out of its own way and found its own voice only to suddenly return to the same kind of stupidity that plagued the early parts of the game is beyond me. For reference, I played the 2012 HD version available for the PS3, widely considered the definitive version of Okami, so there’s really no excuse for the number of flaws that still exist here. Read more →

Okami Screenshots

On the surface, there’s no reason why I wouldn’t fall madly in love with Okami. It’s colorful, drawing symbols to accomplish magical god things is an interesting mechanic, and it’s widely considered one of the best games ever made. It’s not, though. Don’t get me wrong—there’s a stretch of 10 or so hours where I absolutely loved it, and Okami would have easily found a place among my all-time favorites if the whole thing was like that one section. Instead, that’s a brilliant third sandwiched between two stretches of groan-worthy, patronizing tedium. The pacing is all wrong, the story meanders without accomplishing much and is far too obsessed with retelling the same few legends repeatedly (and worse, doing so with unskippable cutscenes), and there’s just not enough payoff when you finally reach the end of the game. That’s not even mentioning the mandatory minigames, the game’s tendency to confuse drawn symbols with each other, the invisible walls, the constant hand-holding while important mechanics are left completely unexplained, and a million more problems that got under my skin while playing. Read more →

Shantae: Risky’s Revenge Review

I had originally intended to play through Okami next, but nostalgia is a hell of a drug and it ended up being littered with various problems that had me yelling at my television screen despite showing up in just about every “best games ever” list I’ve read. The more I tried to play it, the more irritated I would get at its shortcomings, and I found myself playing a few minutes of other games as a palate cleanser of sorts. Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse, the third game in the Shantae series, is the one that I kept returning to. The more of it I played, however, the more apparent it became that I was missing out on back story and potentially spoiling plot points from the first two games, so I decided to play one of the earlier games instead of continuing. Risky’s Revenge, to be more specific. While the first game for the Game Boy Color would probably make for a better starting point, I wasn’t very impressed when I watched footage of it on Youtube, and the thought of giving Nintendo a cut of an eShop purchase after they so recently butchered my favorite series of all time made me feel ill. Besides, Risky’s Revenge popped up in a bundle after I decided to wait for a sale (patience is a perk of having a backlog in the quadruple-digits), and between Okami irritating me and my interest in these games suddenly coinciding with them showing up in a bundle, it felt like fate. Read more →

Shantae: Risky’s Revenge Screenshots

Unlike most of the stuff I cover here, I didn’t originally set out to play this game. In fact, I didn’t own any Shantae games and didn’t have much of an interest because “metroidvania” sounds to me like “platformer you’re terrible at plus tedium.” I was playing an entirely different game and not really having a fun time because that game is full of dumb design decisions, though, and I ended up picking up a Humble Bundle that gave me a 3DS code for Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse and giving it a try in order to avoid the game that was irritating me. The small bit that I played was surprisingly enjoyable, but I didn’t want to play too far into the third game without having first gone through the earlier games. The GBC original didn’t look like a fun starting point, sadly, so I decided to start with Risky’s Revenge; the plan was to wait until it hit a sale because I buy all these games rather than using review codes, and keeping things running is a matter of stretching pennies. Lo and behold, it showed up in an entirely different different Humble Bundle just days later and I took it as a sign from heaven to push back the annoying game and complete Risky’s Revenge instead. I’m glad I did—this is one of those rare gems that’s a joy to play, the kind of thing that I can use to remind myself why I love games in the first place whenever mediocre games deflate my enthusiasm for the hobby. Read more →

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