Posted by Pip
F321- Epic Nap Battles Of History
Sloth has been training for this day all of its existence.
Quick Critique: Shantae Half Genie Hero
I wasn't a Kickstarter backer so I had no skin in the game on this, outside of just buying it. I actually thought their campaign was pretty sleazy. The offerings were overpriced and if your company has been around for over two decades and put out 70 games, if you can't fund your next project, that speaks to some fundamental company mismanagement and you shouldn't be relying on fans to accept the financial risks while you reap the benefits. But apparently that's just me and this thing brought in over $770,000 from Kickstarter, plus however much they got from secondary sources like Paypal. Kind of depressing how many artists I recognized in the art gallery, knowing how much you had to pay to get fan art in the game. And with all Kickstarted games, they shoehorn in some characters based on backers and they're universally annoying because they're tied to fetch quests and painfully unfunny writing.
Ignoring all the Kickstarterness, Half Genie Hero is easily the worst game in the franchise. Gone is the interconnected overworld and its dungeons. Half Genie Hero is a MUCH more straightforward game, more Mega Man X than its Monster World origins. Well, it's more Mega Man with tedious fetch quests than an actual X game. It does a terrible job of sign posting if you need a power to pass an area or if it's a puzzle. There are several spots where you juuust miss a jump or an object so you think you're not doing the section well enough, but then it turns out that you need to come back with a power from later in the game to pass the room. Gone is the fantastic art style of the earlier games and the Bozon's art. I hate the new generic anime art style carried over from the portraits on Pirate's Curse. It's extra depressing too because some of the concept artists had an amazing style and it looks sooo much better than what the game actually uses. To top it all off, Risky is barely in it. Since they dumbed down Shantae in Pirate's Curse, Risky is easily the best character in the series, but she barely shows up.
So much of HGH makes it feels like a budget game:
2D art on 3D backgrounds
Every major character is recycled from previous games (and the one new character barely gets a sensical story), several boss fights are recycled, and almost all of the side characters are old. The thing that made the first Shantae game so appealing was how fresh and unique it was with a neat setting and fun characters in a brand new world, but now this game is as stale and tired as anything else. You've met everybody already, you know the beats, and you know all the jokes. I hope you think "Ret-2-Go" is hilarious because you're going to hear it A LOT.
Multiple auto scroller levels
A maze of teleporters level
Sometimes Circle is the Cancel button, sometimes it accepts
You can't zoom in on the concept art to read the text
There's no dead space on the camera so as soon as you turn around, the camera jolts
The audio mix is way off so the music drowns out the voices, but there's only a single volume setting
The soundtrack is entirely forgettable outside of reused music
The intro song is... exceptionally bad
How freaking incompetent Wayforward is when it comes to making their games display on TVs. The UI goes beyond the borders of my TV and the game doesn't obey the system's Display Settings. This same exact thing happened to me with the previous game, which I played on the Wii U. If you're going to be that terrible at making games show up properly, at least provide an in-game way to shrink the display.
The awful Flash-like tweaning and marionetting on animations and the way people and portraits stretch and "rotate"
The final level is basically just Flappy Bird. You have to use the Harpy form (the least fun and worst controlling one) to weave around moving spiked platforms that kill you in one touch. The whole level and the boss fights are such garbage, to the point that I couldn't even get mad, I just groaned and sighed a lot. One of the boss fights is basically recycled from the original game and the boss doesn't sit still so I just popped invincibility and stood in one spot constantly attacking for when the boss jumped over to me. That's followed up by a fight that's barely considered a fight, but the actions it wants you to take are absolutely un-intuitive. Next comes an overly long tedious combat scenario that was so drawn out that I was second-guessing if I was even doing it properly (I was, it just goes on for that long). Cap that all off by another auto-scroller with no checkpoints and instant death where Shantae frequently moves through platforms without grabbing on to them. All for an ending that's more or less a shrug and does nothing with the franchise's story. At this point, I'm just sick of hearing about Shantae's parents. If you go four games bringing it up but doing nothing conclusive to advance it in any way, just stop waving it around as a meaningless plot device. And that godawful song plays over the credits over and over as reams of Kickstarter backer's names scroll by.
HGH isn't difficult to begin with, but they also make it fairly easy to get an item that grants you unlimited magical guage, which then translates into either infinite health refills or just straight-up invincibility in base Shantae form. It sucks away what little difficulty the game has, but man does it make replaying stages over and over to complete all the backtracking far better.
It's also super short. I played about as inefficiently as possible, spending time farming money for upgrades, replaying every stage over again when I got a new upgrade to see if I could find anything new, and under the soothing numbness of store brand NyQuil and I still beat it at 100% in well under 6 hours. I went through the game again to get the bad ending (it took a bit over 2 hours this time) and it unfolds almost exactly the same save for about 15 seconds of dialogue to reference that Shantae participated in a genocide and instead of inventing a bicycle, Mimic is going to invent video games. I appreciate their willingness to at least go pretty darn dark in the bad end, but it would have been nice if it wasn't just a different line of text to see the outcome. My "reward" for beating the game quickly was a really skeevy picture of Shantae in a bikini, so that's... creepy.
There's an option on the main menu that looks to either be a Risky mode or at least Pirate Shantae, but who knows how long it will take for that to be added to the game. Until it shows up, save your money and wait on the game as it is. Maybe by the time the new modes are added, the game will have gone on sale and be at a price it can actually justify.
I think I've hated/been massively disappointed in every game I've played that originated from Kickstarter. If this means Bloodstained is going to let me down, I'm going to curl into a ball and cry. More than I usually do.