In this age of high-definition, open-world, epic-scale role-playing games with branching storylines and multiple endings, it's easy to overlook the joy that a good ol'-fashioned 2-D side-scrolling platformer can offer. Then comes a game like Shantae and the Pirate's Curse, with its retro charm and its pick-up-and-play controls to remind gamers what they've been missing. Despite its seeming simplicity, there's a surprising amount of depth in the game. The pixelated visuals still manage to give all the characters quite a bit of detail and emotion. And while the controls are easy to learn, there's still quite a bit of challenge, especially in the later levels that require razor-sharp reflexes and spot-on timing. Thankfully, the learning curve is never too steep, and the challenge level progresses at a fairly steady pace.
As good as Shantae and the Pirate's Curse is, though, it's not without its flaws. For starters, the story feels a bit rushed. For a lot of folks, this is likely their first experience with the Shantae franchise, yet the game seems to take for granted that the player is already familiar with the characters. As a result, it's difficult to feel invested in anyone outside of Shantae and Risky Boots. By having players travel to the small island dens of evil and around other areas throughout Sequin Land, the game breaks the action up into smaller, bite-sized chunks. This also means that there's a lot of repetition, with players revisiting previous areas with new skills to find all the game's secrets. Of course, these are just minor issues. On the whole, Shantae and the Pirate's Curse has just the right blend of nostalgia and uniqueness to be an instant classic for any platform-adventure fan.