One big way that Shantae: Half-Genie Hero keeps you coming back is with two possible endings. While some points are exactly the same, in terms of dialogue, a rather important incident happens in the good ending and doesn’t occur in the bad one. In fact, the game even makes a point of hinting, in bold, yellow type, that you could have done more. This is referring to four side-quests that can grant you access to the best ending.
After visiting the Hypno Baron’s Castle, you can complete some tasks for the Ammo, Hypno, Squid, and Techno Barons. Each one wants some sort of item, some of which you may already have if you’ve been grabbing things after revisiting levels. Ammo Baron wants five pieces of Scrap Metal, Hypno Baron wants the 10 Sunken Souls, Squid Baron wants a Squid Poster, and Techno Baron wants the Data Chip. While the Scrap Metal pieces and Sunken Souls are things you should probably have found along the way, you can get the Data Chip from the second section of Mermaid Falls, by using the Harpy form to fly to the top, then the Bat, Harpy, and Spider forms to travel through a hazardous maze. The Squid Poster can be found with Abner at Hypno Baron’s Castle, after trading him Squid Baron’s Velvet Poster. After the barons give you Risky Boots’ Buckle, Cufflink, Pendant, and Ribbon, you can trade them to Uncle Mimic for a Magic Polarizer. Just having this makes a huge difference.
Then, there’s Shantae: Half-Genie Hero’s Hero Mode. This mode is practically made for speedrunners. From the very beginning, Shantae knows the monkey, crab, elephant, mouse, and harpy dances. This means you’re able to reach every important optional area from the very start, as well as get through levels a little quicker than you would have during the original playthrough. I found it to be the easier mode for completion purposes. There are a few sections in some locations, specifically a certain portion of Tassel Town, that kept me from wanting to go through that area again. When testing out Hero Mode, I had no such qualms about returning to it. I’d already have all the dances I needed to completely clear it.
Hero Mode gives people who are skilled (and far more dexterous than I am) a chance to get some of the Shantae: Half-Genie Hero’s most difficult trophies. One is Race to the Top. When going through Tassel Town, Wilbur the worm will chase you through a vertical section. If you can climb this area in under two minutes, you earn Race to the Top. Naturally, the Harpy form is a huge help for this. Speed Runner is about defeating the game in under two hours. Then, there’s Quick Collector. It requires you to reach 100% completion in under four hours.
From what I’ve seen, Shantae: Half-Genie Hero plays like a game that encourages you to come back. From the little sidequests for extra items, the gallery you can complete, optional dances and skills to find, and two different endings, it genuinely feels like an experience you’re supposed to go through more than once. Perhaps even attempting to complete it as quickly as possible each time. It’s an inviting adventure, and the wit and fanservice help keep it appealing.
Shantae: Half-Genie Hero is available for the PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Nintendo Wii U, Xbox One, and PC.