A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Shantae and the Pirate's Curse is a downloadable action-adventure platform game and the third game in the Shantae franchise. The series stars a strong female protagonist who has taken on the role of guardian of her village, as well as the unintentional role of savior of her entire land. The game is simple to pick up and play and features a cute combination of both retro and anime styles. Although the action is nonstop, the game's style lessens the impact of the violence, making it more akin to a Saturday-morning cartoon. Some of the content in the game may not be appropriate for younger gamers, as the women are presented in some revealing outfits and there are some slightly lewd and crude jokes and comments peppered throughout the dialogue.
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What's it about?
As SHANTAE AND THE PIRATE'S CURSE opens, Shantae is still trying to adjust to life in Scuttle Town after the loss of her genie powers. After defending the town from an attack, Shantae is captured by her rival, Risky Boots, who accuses Shantae of robbing her and kidnapping her crew. It comes to light that the true foe is the legendary Pirate Master, an evil entity whose tyranny was stopped only by the collective efforts of the genies of Sequin Land. Despite being sealed away in an isolated grave, the Pirate Master's evil has found a way to gather dark magic scattered throughout Sequin Land in an attempt to revive himself and unleash his wrath once again. Determined to stop this, Shantae and Risky Boots team up to destroy the dens of evil providing the dark magic and hopefully stop the Pirate Master before he returns from the grave.
Is it any good?
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.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about themes of friendship. What are some ways that people can foster new relationships, and are there ways that rivals could be turned into new friends?
Talk about the portrayal of women in games. What are some of the positive and negative ways women are portrayed in video games? What are qualities that make for a strong female character in gaming?
- Platforms: Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo Wii U, PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox One
- Price: $19.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Way Forward
- Release date: October 24, 2014
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Friendship, Misfits and Underdogs, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- ESRB rating: E10+ for Fantasy Violence, Suggestive Themes
- Last updated: March 16, 2020
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.