Game Title: Shantae Half-Genie Hero
DLC Title: Friends to the End
DLC Type: Story Campaign / Additional Characters
Platforms: Nintendo Switch (Reviewed), PlayStation Vita / Vita TV
Price: $7.99 USD
Doing reviews for Game DLC Campaigns is still a pretty new concept for me. I’ve only done one before, for the 1st Story Expansion for platformer Shantae: Half-Genie Hero. I had fun doing it, so I’m planning on doing more Story-based DLC campaigns in the future. Although I’m far from being able to review the long-anticipated Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild Story Expansion, I do have something for you today.
Coming from the same game as my 1st DLC Review, the new Story Expansion for Shantae: Half-Genie Hero came out yesterday and I’m ready to give you my thoughts on it. So, here is my review of Shantae: Half-Genie Hero – Friends to the End!
**SPOILER WARNING! Friends to the End takes place in a crucial segment of Half-Genie Hero’s Storyline. If you have not completed the Base Game, SKIP the Story Section of this Review!**
Friends to the End takes place in the same story segment that the Risky Boots DLC took place. Through unseen manipulation by Risky Boots, Shantae has her magic inverted, transforming from a being of Good into a being of Evil. As the Evil Magic overwhelms her body, she falls unconscious, leaving behind a Portal leading into her mind. Series veterans Sky, Bolo, and Rottytops leap into the portal with the intention of finding the Good Shantae and bringing her back.
The nice thing about this campaign is that there is a lot more story to it. In the Risky Boots DLC, you didn’t get much dialogue and there wasn’t that much to the story. But not only is Friends to the End canon within the game’s plotline (which Pirate Queen’s Quest clearly is not), you also have a lot of dialogue in each stage and see the trio of Heroes grow from trying to all play the Hero to understanding the need to work together to rescue their friend.
The gameplay genre of Half-Genie Hero has not changed, but how you play it has. You’re still platforming through 2D stages, fighting enemies and finding collectibles leading up to a boss fight before moving onto the next stage.
The big difference here is that, you have 3 new playable characters to freely swap between. In the base game, you could play as Shantae. In Pirate Queen’s Quest, you could play as Risky Boots. In Friends to the End, though, you can play as Bolo, Sky, and Rottytops.
Each of these playable characters have different abilities that must be used together to navigate the way this DLC Campaign has changed the base game’s environments. There are a lot of hazards that only one of the three can get past. Sky has the ability to glide after a jump and create temporary platforms for crossing large gaps. Bolo has a Grappling Hook to reach higher areas. Finally, Rotty can throw her head across the stage and teleport the rest of her body to where it lands, bypassing magical barriers and many enemies.
This new aspect is an interesting way to play the game, as it makes you think about a lot of your decisions. You can’t just transform into a harpy and fly over obstacles. Sometimes, you will have to use Sky to make a platform, switch to Rotty, jump on the platform, and throw your head to the next platform in the few seconds you have before Sky’s platform disappears. The abilities definitely make some areas easier to access, but others much, much harder.
And speaking of difficulty, let’s talk about Leveling and Magic Abilities. Gaining gems from enemies and pots will level up each character, making their attacks change in power, speed, and range. It will also increase your magic gauge for special abilities, like Rotty’s healing ability. This also increases the difficulty of the game. While gaining gems increases your experience, getting hit will make you lose gems and, with them, those levels you gained. So, you have to work on learning how to dodge enemies to keep those enhanced stats, which are absolutely crucial to fighting the Final Boss.
But that’s not the only part that’s difficult. I mentioned Rotty’s Healing Ability because Friends to the End doesn’t give you any Food Items to pick up. The only way you can heal is by using Rotty’s Magic Ability or getting rare health pickups from enemies. You can’t increase your Maximum Hearts, either, so once you go through your two heals in a boss fight, you have no way to heal until you finish it. This makes this DLC campaign significantly more difficult than both the base game and Pirate Queen’s Quest.
But, enough on the new features, we need to talk about how much content and what kind of content is in this campaign. You have 6 worlds to travel through across this campaign, built into separated stages to emphasize on the new collectible built into the game required to see the True/Good Ending.
The different way of accessing the stages is interesting, but the problem here is that almost every stage, enemy, and boss were taken from the base game. Even the final boss is just a palette swap of the Final Boss from Pirate Queen’s Quest. Pirate Queen’s Quest had a feeling of a lack of new content, but Friends to the End has an even worse feeling with not even one unique boss battle that wasn’t in the other campaigns.
This was all intentional as well. Even one of the boss fight introductions parodies its own DLC Campaign, mocking themselves for using recycled attack patterns. Although that is very comical, it doesn’t excuse for not even making the final boss have a couple new attacks.
As far as how much content there is, you’ve got 6 worlds to go through, with 48 collectible items to collect for the Good Ending. Considering that is one world less than we saw in Pirate Queen’s Quest, you can imagine it is a little bit shorter. Pirate Queen took me a little over 3 hours to complete with the Good Ending. Friends to the End took me a little less than 3 hours, with making sure I had all 48 collectibles when I cleared the Final Boss. If I hadn’t gone back and kept retrying for those collectibles, it would’ve barely lasted 2 hours, if that. It’s very short.
There is one thing that is worth noting for presentation. Nothing has changed in terms of graphics and performance, but the sound has one note-worthy change.
All of the background songs for the stages outside of boss fights have been replaced by various songs picked from the previous games of the series: Shantae for the GBC, Risky’s Revenge for Dsi, and Pirate’s Curse for the Nintendo 3DS. This does provide a little difference in atmosphere when you’re navigating old levels with retro music.
In conclusion, Friends to the End is a unique DLC Expansion with three playable characters and brings a fresh feel of difficulty to the game. However, it is brought down by its short length and for recycling everything within it, outside of the new playable characters. It's worth a play if you're a fan of the series, but don't expect to see any new bosses this time around.