Semantic Nonsense: Shantae 4 and Nintendo Hard

Shantae: Half-Finished Game

As you might remember, I played the third game of this series, Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse for this year’s Four in February.

For the time-crunched, here’s the relevant highlight:

“However, I keep putting myself in a perpetual state of disappointment with them because I keep expecting the next one to get serious about its Metroidvania style, but it never does.”

And then, there was Geoff’s foreboding comment:

“Oh boy, I can’t wait to hear what you think of Half-Genie Hero once you get around to it. It makes Pirate’s Curse look open-ended.”

I was a Kickstarter back on this game, and after another backed project, Cosmic Star Heroine, became available I thought to myself, “I ought to at least check out the last game I Kickstarted and never played.”

And while WayForward made a beautiful game, it’s missing chunks of content. I’m not talking content promised in the pitch but not delivered upon; I’m talking actual connective tissue of the game.

The sections of levels no longer flow into each other. You just get a bunch of long rooms, each blatantly different from each other with no transition whatsoever. The transitional rooms that provide design continuity in previous games where one often found the old dude who saves your game have been replaced with a cutscene of Shantae walking through a black void with the old dude and a prompt to save the game. Why? I don’t know. Did they run out of time?

The whole backtracking with new abilities thing is executed horribly. Rather than providing new ways to travel through a level, you just replay the stages until you get to a small room blocked off by your new ability, use it, then immediately return to the regular path through the level. This monotony ramps up quickly, as the shear amount of backtracking the game throws at you. While some secrets are optional, each new transformation and animal skill you gain will require you to return to EVERY previous level in order to advance the plot and unlock the next level. It gets old quick, even with the warp dance.

While Geoff’s takeaway was that of cautious optimism, but with each game in the series getting progressively less Metroidvaniay I’m done waiting. I’ve clearly misjudged the series and shouldn’t get to a point where I dislike it for being itself.

Actually things don’t really bode well for me enjoying my fourth Kickstarter-backed Cosmic Star Heroine, seeing as it’s following this and Mighty No. 9 (and was one of the suckers who backed Mansion Lord).

Treasure Hunter

Walmart appeared to finally break through the great SNES Classic preorder wall in the U.S. last Friday, but it was not to be. Some extremely unfortunate employee apparently pushed the beautiful, shiny, jolly, candy-like button well ahead of schedule, meaning the whole lot of preorders might not be real.

Walmart denied any preorders were being canceled, though didn’t go so far as to say that WOULDN’T get canceled later. Just the same, several would-be shoppers reported receiving cancellation notices before Walmart issued the statement. I am not aware of any additional dashed hopes occurring since.

GameStop, Best Buy and the like still have no preorders and no information on how soon (or if at all) they will be happening. It’s worth noting that interested parties can request in-stock alert emails from Walmart and Best Buy. Indeed, the Walmart alert email was credited on the Cheap-Ass Gamer forums as how this cat got out of the bag to begin with.

All this while, Geoff, Angela and I have an email thread 70 messages long (and counting!) strategizing about how we can attempt to get our mitts on this rare-before-release product. At present, one of us might have a preorder from Walmart (which might get canceled) and one of us has a preorder from Amazon UK (which might get canceled).

So after all this, our answers to “Will I own a SNES mini?” is two maybes and a no.

What the hell, Nintendo. Why must people go to such lengths to simply have a chance of giving you money?

Though I suppose I shouldn’t have high expectations for the company that put one of the most famous three-player games of all time on a system permanently limited to two controllers.

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