DLC Title: Pirate Queen’s Quest
DLC Type: Story Campaign / New Playable Character
Platform: Nintendo Switch (Also available on Steam, PS4, PS Vita, etc)
Download: 400 MB (Raises base game’s total download to 2.0 GB)
Game Modes: All
I’ve reviewed a lot of games since I began work on this website. 509 games, to be precise. One thing I have never reviewed before is a single DLC package. While there have been story enhancements to many games I’ve reviewed, like the Epilogue DLC for Atelier Sophie that connects it to Atelier Firis. But I’d never given much thought to actually reviewing DLC before.
This week, that changes. I was approached by WayForward about reviewing the new story expansion for Shantae: Half-Genie Hero. So, without further ado, here is my very first DLC review, for Shantae: Half Genie Hero’s new Story Campaign, Pirate Queen’s Quest!
*Note: If you’d like to read my review of the base game, you can read my reviews for them below:
**Spoiler Alert. If you have not played Half-Genie Hero in its Completion, skip to the Gameplay section**
Pirate Queen’s Quest is a semi-canon story scenario that begins about halfway through Half-Genie Hero. Right after Risky Boots steals the Dynamo from Scuttle Town upon its completion by Shantae, she sails off to gather the parts needed to finish her -version- of the device, in order to rip open a portal between the Mortal Realm and the Genie Realm.
Story in this DLC pack is fairly light. You get some scenes at the start of each stage, during each boss fight, and after, though the post-stage cutscenes are more or less just Risky reacting to the new gear she is given. It’s not as light as just strictly gameplay, though, so there are a lot of laughs and jokes thrown in to keep you entertained (especially when Risky finds Squid Baron).
Gameplay remains the same from Shantae’s campaign, but I think it’s important to note what kind of differences there are in Pirate Queen’s Quest, as there’s been a lot of buzz around Reddit about whether or not it’s literally just doing the same game all over again with a new sprite.
There are two things to talk about, in terms of differences: Risky, herself, and Stages.
Risky plays a little different from Shantae. While her sword slash is exactly the same as Shantae’s hair-whipping, she also comes with a pistol and various ammo types that change projectile type, trajectory, and affects puzzle-solving. Although this isn’t a huge difference, Risky also utilizes Pirate Gear to move around stages instead of transformations.
This Pirate Gear is a big thing, as both Way Forward and others have compared this DLC expansion to the feel of Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse, widely regarded by fans as the best game in the series. All of the Pirate Gear from Pirate’s Curse returns in Pirate Queen’s Quest, meaning that you get around the same stages with gliding hats and grappling hooks instead of monkey and harpy transformations.
Stages are just as big to talk about. Although there are no new stages to play through, the existing stages have been significantly altered with different puzzles and means of getting around so you don’t progress the same way with Risky as you did with Shantae. There are also a few new enemy types in each stage, mostly returning enemies from previous games in the series, like the ever-frustrating Scorpion Gal.
But beyond these changes, it’s hard not to notice that apart from the Final Boss, there aren’t any new bosses here. You still fight the Giga Mermaid, Wilbur, etc at the end of each stage that have coincidentally been placed right back to where they were when Shantae progressed and fought them. Because of this, the bigger moments of the campaign feel like more of the same, especially considering all of the stages the same as in the vanilla game.
The final thing with gameplay is length. You cannot help but wonder just how long this $10 DLC Campaign will last you. From the start of the campaign until I had unlocked all but 2 upgrade items and beat the story, I’d logged between 3 and 4 hours into Pirate Queen’s Quest. Considering I’ve had almost 3 months to get the stages out of my head, I would put the length of this DLC around half the length of the game’s main story, which isn’t a bad trade-off especially considering that the DLC is half the cost of the actual game, so that balance is consistent.
We all know the control scheme for the game, but there is one thing I cannot help but stress and talk about here. You get all of the Pirate Gear as you play through as Risky, and all of those pieces are either set to buttons or set as ammo for your gun. So first, let me explain those controls to you.
You use R to glide with the Pirate’s Hat and X to activate your Grappling Hook. You hit B after you’ve already jumped to use your Cannon Double-Jump, and you can use ZL/ZR to set your Bombs as ammo for your pistol.
While this is not hard to figure out, the campaign doesn’t do a thing to show you how to use any of these. While 3DS players will note that the control scheme matches that of Pirate’s Curse, there’s a severe lack of explanation. Not even the item descriptions for the gear tells you how to use it. You just sort of randomly press buttons in stages until you get it right.
In conclusion, Pirate Queen's Quest is a 3-hour campaign that is different enough to not feel exactly the same as the vanilla Story Mode and gives series fans a nostalgic Pirate's Curse feel with Risky's moveset. However, the lack of explanation and lack of new bosses and stages may turn away those who aren't diehard fans of the series.