Pirate Queen's Quest

A game expansion by WayForward for Shantae: Half-Genie Hero, originally released in 2017.
Pirate Queen's Quest is a paid DLC expansion to Shantae: Half-Genie Hero which allows you to replay the game from the point of view of Risky Boots, the series' primary antagonist. The game begins with Risky stating that every story has two sides, and she is about to explain how events really unfolded. The introduction is similar to that of the main game, with Shantae’s uncle demonstrating his new invention which goes unexpectedly awry once it is powered up. On cue, Risky drops in to announce her nefarious plans, and then disables Shantae and escapes with the device, with which she plans to take over all of Sequin Land… as soon as she can collect the remaining components.

In the next scene, Risky is seen sitting in a bubble bath aboard her ship, while her Tinkerbat minions stand around and await her orders. The bubble bath serves as a hub, which Risky revisits between each mission (hey, at least she stays clean). From here, players may select between any of the five areas in the main game, and these may be played in any order. The boss of each area gives up a machine component when defeated.

For the most part, Risky faces the same enemies as Shantae – although there are a handful of new foes introduced in this expansion – and in the scenes where she’s facing off against Tinkerbats, she explains that she is punishing them for insubordination or other perceived misdeeds.

Since Risky is unable to transform into animals like her half-genie rival, there are some changes to the level designs that allow her to pass through with her skill set. These changes come mostly in the form of switches that create hovering purple platforms, allowing risky to cross gaps and reach high platforms. Some of these platforms stay on while activated, while others disappear after a few seconds, and some are standard platforms that rise or fall when a switch is activated.

Risky’s scimitar acts similarly to Shantae’s hair whip, dealing melee damage at close range. But being a pirate, she also has a number of projectile-based weapons. These consist of a weak infinite-ammo pistol that is best used for activating distant switches, along with a 3-way spread shot and homing missiles, for which ammo is refilled by defeating enemies and breaking objects. Risky also has the ability to deploy Tinkerbats that go out and fight on her behalf, but this is much slower than simply walking over to the enemies and killing them. By finding treasure chests containing elements of dark magic, Risky can upgrade each of these weapons, as well as her health meter and secondary abilities.

Each time Risky defeats a boss (and yes, these are the same bosses that Shantae faced), her Tinkerbats gift her a different piece of pirate gear. Some of this gear comes directly from that found in Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse, such as a pirate hat that lets Risky glide through the air. At first, this gliding ability only allows for a small midair hop and almost no horizontal movement, but once it is fully upgraded, players can use it to cross huge gaps.

In addition, Risky can unlock a grappling hook that lets her grab onto the ceiling and even crawl along the ceiling to the left or right, a kraken ball that allows underwater movement, a bomb shot that lets her fire bomb projectiles that break through destructible blocks, and a cannon jump that acts as a double jump, which can be further upgraded to allow for four successive jumps while also causing damage to enemies standing below and destroying destructible blocks.

This pirate gear is the core of the expansion’s metroidvania design, with each new piece allowing access to side paths that lead to treasure chests. These chests, in turn, offer black magic to allow Risky to upgrade her abilities, or one of 15 genie crystals, all of which must be collected to finish Risky's the machine and access the sixth and final area.

Without the animal transformations, there isn’t as much depth to the levels; Risky simply runs from one end of the level to the other, jumping on platforms and fighting enemies, and occasionally venturing down a side path if she has the appropriate ability to access it. As such, players can run through all five areas in about an hour, earning each piece of pirate gear along the way, and then spend another hour running back through the levels with these new abilities to access side paths and open all of the treasure chests, and then unlock the final area.

There is some humor to be had in Risky’s short and somewhat shallow adventure, as she speaks in her trademark haughty tone while dealing with the fact that her rival is more accomplished than she. There's also a humorous encounter with a character from a previous game, some Plague of Shadows-esque ribbing of former fellow bosses, and Risky even gives a piece of her mind to the giant mermaid that she inadvertently rescues after breaking her mind control spell along with her bonds.

Shantae: Half-Genie Hero and the Pirate Queen's Quest DLC were funded via a successful Kickstarter campaign and were developed by WayForward, a California-based company founded in 1990. The developer’s catalogue consists mostly of licensed titles, including Contra 4, Batman: The Brave and the Bold, DuckTales: Remastered, and the Adventure Time games. In 2009, the company reimagined the NES game A Boy and His Blob: Trouble on Blobolonia with their Wii release of A Boy and His Blob. WayForward is perhaps best known for their original IP’s, which include the Mighty series (Mighty Flip Champs, Mighty Switch Force, etc.) and the Shantae series.

Music for the game was composed by Jake “Virt” Kaufman, who also composed the soundtracks for the previous Shantae titles as well as Contra 4, Retro City Rampage, Ultionus, Shovel Knight, and numerous other games.

The Shantae series consists of the original Shantae on the Game Boy Color, Shantae: Risky’s Revenge, Shantae and the Pirate's Curse, and Shantae: Half-Genie Hero.