Sometimes, Shantae: Half-Genie Hero feels like the video game equivalent of an animated series. Each “week,” there’s a new ordeal for Shantae to deal with. By which I mean, every new location brings with it a new adventure. There are occasional “filler episodes” sometimes preparing you for the events of next week. This means that the overarching story, briefly introduced in the opening, is more of a background event that’s constantly on-going while she deals with her daily life.
Shantae: Half-Genie Hero’s introduction sets up this impression. Shantae finds herself drawn to Uncle Mimic’s house. There, she discovers a secret basement. An unseen voice tells her that she’ll need to take part in adventures that will not only help the human realm, but also save the genie realm. When the morning comes, Uncle Mimic has no idea what she’s talking about, but hey! He has a new machine he’s building that will provide Scuttle Town with electricity and defenses! Isn’t that totally coincidental that such an undertaking would come after she receives an ominous warning? I like to think of this as happening on, say, a Sunday evening and Monday morning.
From there, each area feels like it could be a major event for each day. Risky Boots has sailed into town on her Part Omni-Organic, Partially Titanic, Ocean-Optional Tinkerslug to take Uncle Mimic’s plans. (Don’t call it P.O.O.P. T.O.O.T.!) She isn’t exactly sure what they’re for, but she has to have them. This is basically Shantae’s Monday. She has to run through the burning town, defeating Tinkerbats, until she reaches Risky Boots, retrieves the blueprints, and sends her away. It’s a self contained story that’s only vaguely tied into the overarching plot.
This trend continues with every space that unlocks. What happens the next day? Well, women around Mermaid Falls have been disappearing. Shantae’s the one who needs to find out what’s going on. Oh, it’s the Techno Baron this time. He’s turning regular girls into mermaids, because he’s overfished actual mermaids he’s been canning and selling. There’s a new monster of the week, new people to save, more familiar faces, and even Bolo getting a little upset that Shantae is the one who’s always the hero. Eventually, Shantae ends up getting fired again, needing to rid a restaurant of Tinkerbats for a piece of caramel, reunite a grandma blobfish with her grandkids, get race tickets for Rottytops, and get involved in all sorts of escapades. Do they all have to do with that one, major incident or Uncle Mimic’s machine? No. But, it makes sense in a way that it doesn’t.
Especially since it gives us opportunities to see all sorts of side characters. Think of them as daily guests. Bolo gets to be a big deal when Shantae heads to Mermaid Falls, because he’s tired of being seen as the goof up. Rottytops finally isn’t afraid to show how much she wants to be friends with Shantae, asking for two tickets to the race so they can go together and working on her pit crew. Shantae is dealing with all kinds of affairs, but she’s also spending time with her friends. We get to enjoy all the humor that comes from these escapades.
When you go through Shantae: Half-Genie Hero, it really is like you’re experiencing Shantae’s daily life. After all, she’s a resident genie. A slice-of-life game for her isn’t going to involve exploring the town and spending time doing ordinary things with friends. She’s constantly going to be dealing with monster of the week bosses and everyone’s requests. Though our time with her may go swiftly in this adventure, it’s handled in a way that really helps us see what her life is like.
Shantae: Half-Genie Hero is available for the PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Nintendo Wii U, Xbox One, and PC.