Since I got my DSi I have been playing a lot of downloads. And by a lot I mean a pretty unhealthy amount. Being bored and being a writer has made me want to flex my essay skills with a few reviews of some of the games I’ve played. While I am no professional gamer or professional reviewer, I do hope that they will still be informative. So without further ado, here is the latest game I finished (with 100% completion I might proudly add):

Shantae: Risky’s Revenge

In the sequel to the popular Shantae, we revisit Sequin Land for more ponytail action. The original installment was for Gameboy Colour and is virtually non-existent today, so don’t feel bad if you’ve never heard of it before. I hadn’t. But now we deprived people can enter the Shantae universe and enjoy all it has to offer.

Shantae is a half-genie bellydancer employed as the guardian of her home, Scuttletown. Things are peaceful… but only for about the first two minutes of the game. Risky Boots, once thwarted by Shantae is taking her revenge by stealing a very important artifact- a magic lamp- from Shantae’s uncle. Now Shantae must race (or dance) to find the three magical seals before Risky does so that the horrors within the lamp will not be unleashed.

Shantae is an action/ adventure platformer with RPG style exploration and freedom of movement. You control our hair-whipping half-genie as she explores the areas and dungeons around Scuttletown in search of items and seals, learning a few new tricks along the way. It features old-school style gameplay but unlike most old-school games, it’s not incredibly frustrating for those who weren’t playing in that era (like me).

One minor gripe is that it really doesn’t take advantage of the two screens. The action is on the top screen while the bottom screen is taken up either by an item list or an absolutely useless map.

The graphics may look Gameboy style at first, until you see Shantae move. The animations are incredibly fluid and the scenery beautifully detailed. What’s more, the environments (in a few areas, anyway) are layered so that you can see baddies moving around on the next plane in the background of the plane you’re on.

As far as controls go, they’re smooth as silk. Most of what you do will be button controlled. The addition of some touch-screen commands, however, feels awkward and out of place, not to mention annoying. To equip an item you have to tap on it. This can get hairy when you’re fighting and dodging on the top screen with hordes of enemies surrounding you and you have to look at the bottom screen to quickly switch out items. A button control for this would have made a lot more sense.

The only other gripe- which may not even be perceived as a gripe to some- is the obscurity of where to go next, most often in the dungeons. Characters will give you clues as to the next big step if you’re so inclined to talk to them, but generally you’re going to get lost a lot and have to criss-cross dungeons trying to figure out where the heck you go now. Many might see that as a refreshing challenge, though, and not mind a little elbow grease when it comes to finding their way.

In all Shantae was a thoroughly enjoyable game. It and Dodogo! are the most professionally presented games with the most polish in the e-shop. It really feels like you’re playing a retail game instead of a download. While Shantae may be rather short and more expensive than any other DSiWare game, I don’t regret one penny of the $12 I spent on it. This is very rare for me to say, and usually reserved only for Pokémon and Zelda games, but I think I’m going to play this one again.