Does the header image depict pirate queen Risky Boots firing a homing missile at Half-Genie Hero’s Giga Mermaid boss, you ask? It does indeed, dear reader (slash hypothetical-spewing voice in my head). That’s one of those things in Risky’s arsenal that didn’t exist in Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse and that required a little figuring out on my part. I mean, if there are tutorials for that kind of stuff, I somehow managed to miss them. Even the menu doesn’t do much to tell you how things work, so it took me a second to figure out that right trigger (I’m playing on an Xbox One since that’s what I have the base game on) triggers the pirate hat used to float. That’s the same as in Pirate’s Curse, but the ~15 months and ~40 game reviews since have done a wonderful job of dulling my memories of its control scheme.
My biggest worry was unfounded
When the first trailer I saw for Pirate Queen’s Quest involved Risky beating down a bunch of her own Tinkerbats in the main game’s first level, I was a little nervous that the whole thing would be like that. Turns out that Risky’s story actually begins after the dynamo is constructed, meaning she’s running through levels after Shantae has already been through them. That’s not to say that much has changed because of this—other levels have some switched up enemies and platforming elements catering to Risky’s abilities (obviously), but otherwise seem to have the same boss fights and general flow. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, though, because it’s like a Pirate’s Curse take on Half-Genie Hero while acting as a kind of pseudo-sequel to all of the disconnected happenings from the base game. Thus far, at least.
See? Same boss fight, different abilities that give the fight a slightly different feel. The whole game feels like that right now, and I’m definitely liking it.
You can also start with any level rather than it being a linear progression of unlocks like in the base game. Not having to unlock areas all over again is appreciated, and while it ultimately doesn’t matter much since the nature of the game will have you returning to each place several times, it makes the early game feel more open.
A whole lotta bathtub
Something I didn’t expect was for Risky’s home base to be her in a bathtub surrounded by Tinkerbats. A slightly suggestive scene amid gameplay so polished that it captures the childlike wonder of something like the original Super Mario Bros. kind of sums up the Shantae series in general though, doesn’t it?
I also like how the room is covered in treasure. Most of which I cropped out so that the “travel” bit demonstrating the fact that it’s a menu remained visible when I shrunk the image. Actually, here. As for the other Tinkerbat options, there’s “talk” (which appears to be a hint system) and “save.” The bathtub is even where you acquire new equipment after beating the areas’ bosses. Risky might have extreme OCD.
I’ve done three areas thus far
Thus far I’ve been able to play with the grappling hook and pirate hat, though I also just unlocked something that promises to “grant underwater movement.” I’m curious to see how the game handles this underwater movement without a mermaid or crab form. The DLC has been pretty good thus far, though. I died a couple times, but only because the early parts of Half-Genie Hero (in general) tend to be the hardest thanks to your limited health, and I was still trying to figure out the controls.
The sliding section I’m less positive about. Granted, it was fine in the base game, but the enemy placement in this thing makes it hard to tell when to jump and when not to jump, and the distracting foreground elements are still an issue. Then again, these sections bugged me a bit in the base game, too, but eventually won me over.
So yeah. Pirate Queen’s Quest has been more of the same thus far, but more of something good is almost always a good thing. I’m kind of dreading the magic carpet race, though, recognizing that I probably won’t be able to cheese it since Risky isn’t likely to get something analogous to Shantae’s bat or harpy form. Hopefully I’ll get lucky and Risky’s cannon will be in the game. A double jump would help a ton.