The Shantae series has always had some Metroidvania nods. Our favorite half-genie is capable of performing certain dances. These allow her to transform into new forms, which let her access new areas and take advantage of different skills. While there are a few in Shantae: Half-Genie Hero that are specialized and feel like geared toward a few specific functions, the majority come in quite handy throughout her journey.
Shantae’s monkey form is the first you’ll acquire in Shantae: Half-Genie Hero and is as helpful as ever. It’s the most practical one you’ll ever use. You’ll find yourself turning to it throughout the game. It means higher jumps, the ability to grab onto and climb walls, and a smaller hitbox. It even feels like you’re moving a bit quicker. Given how much of this particular installment involves extreme dexterity and precise jumps, the monkey is probably the most invaluable ability. I felt like Mermaid Falls and Tassel Town would have been impossible without it. Tassel Town especially, since I had the most trouble ever with that segment where a sandworm is chasing Shantae up a vertical level and the portion before the boss features a number of large gaps with appearing and disappearing blocks. Being a monkey is the best.
Naturally, that sort of usefulness also applies to the spider form. This is an optional dance that you don’t have to get. But, if you’re willing to head back to Tassel Town with the elephant form, it’s easy enough to acquire. When Shantae does the Spider Dance, she’ll be able to climb along ceilings. When performing a double jump, she’ll send up a web to pull herself to safety, offering another way to get around some platforming or enemy-laden segments that might otherwise be uncomfortable. Not to mention, the spider venom you can eventually acquire is a handy attack.
Of course, being a harpy is one of the best parts of Shantae: Half-Genie Hero. I’m not good at the platforming sections that involve super precise jumps and disappearing platforms. Getting this dance gives you the opportunity to fly by tapping the jump button repeatedly. While it isn’t always the speediest option, it can be the safest way to get through any area that’s been giving you trouble. In fact, I didn’t repeat certain segments until Shantae could become a harpy, because I just didn’t want to deal with the frustrating jumps again.
The bat form is rather similar. When Shantae transforms, she’s able to fly indefinitely. There’s no constant button tapping. Granted, this means you can’t reach higher platforms or areas, but even this has its benefits. You can easily reach one space at the exact same height and level as one on the side opposite of where Shantae may happen to be. It isn’t as practical and useful as the harpy, but still is more functional than some other forms. You’re getting another skill that works beyond the limited situations where you’d otherwise expect to use it.
Even the mermaid form is one you’ll end up using far more than you’d expect. It’s basically a better version of the crab form you’ll acquire not far into Shantae: Half-Genie Hero. Shantae is able to swim underwater, completely submerging to reach new areas. While the crab form still does have merit, since it’s more compact and allows access to different spaces, the mermaid lets you rely on underwater enemies who’d normally attack as backup, is a swifter swimmer, and happens to be a stronger attacker with Mermaid Bubble.
Then, there’s the dryad form. This is another optional one, which you can end up buying from Tuki. Shantae is entirely stationary when she’s a tree, but magic points can be expended to spawn oranges. These can be collected and saved for rather tricky moments or segments. I used it to stock up on snacks ahead of boss battles. While the bosses have defined patterns that are easy to learn, it never hurts to have that extra piece of fruit in case you take too many hits.
With Shantae: Half-Genie Hero, we have skills that constantly aid in our adventuring. Instead of only being helpful in one or two spots in every area, they keep proving their worth. They’re these exceptionally handy skills that make it easier to explore every section of Sequin Land.
Shantae: Half-Genie Hero is available for the PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Nintendo Wii U, Xbox One, and PC.