September 6, 2017 at 5:41 am #14318
(Extra warning: Spoilers for Half Genie Hero and Pirates Curse are within.)
Thank goodness for youtube.
First let me say that I acknowledge that I may be one of 4 people in the world that this matters to this much. But I’m posting it anyway in case there are more people so that I add my voice to theirs.
Also, I should mention that this is only talking about the writing of Pirate Queen’s Quest. I didn’t play it and I never will. I can look past bad gameplay for a good story, but I cannot look past a terrible story no matter how good the gameplay. It may be a fun mode to play, don’t care.
I said it before this was released, and my feelings are absolutely stronger now. A “Risky wins” Scenario like this, even if it is non-canon, just does not fit with the Shantae Series. That kind of story, especially when it tries to make it seem like Risky actually killed Shantae, is such a shift in tone that it can only hurt the overall product. The series as a whole has always been so cheerful, happy, and positive. Like everything from the characters to most of the monsters has just oozed that vibe. Even Risky, to a certain extent (except in the very first game where she yelled about gutting Shantae after losing.). I mean just look at the animations of most of the monsters. And then there are Shantae’s transformations. I don’t find bats or spiders to be particularly cute, but darn it if her transformations aren’t ALL adorable.
You lose a lot of that when you make the bad guy win because inherently that means that bad things happened. Especially when you have THAT ending. That just destroys all the happiness and cheerfulness that normally exists in the game. It doesn’t matter that it’s non-canon, or that it’s blatantly a lie by Risky, actually having Risky beat Shantae and then go “That takes care of her. I finally destroyed that meddlesome Genie” is just sad. What? We’re supposed to feel better because “oh look, her tinkerbats ruined her plan, har har, it’s okay that Risky killed Shantae.” And all of that after Shantae’s heroic declaration to not let Risky win? This is a downer ending and that sort of thing does not belong in a game that is normally so happy and cheerful.
Add to that there were so many things they could have done that would have accomplished the goal “Risky beats Shantae” without making it seem like she actually killed her. For example: After she “destroys” Shantae, while she is gloating, show Shantae in the background stealing a piece from the Dynamo without Risky noticing. Or, after the fight have Shantae be like Risky, kneeling and breathing heavy (Risky gets to be around after the explosions, why not Shantae too?), then she activates the machine and it blows up. Queue her berating her tinkerbats and then Shantae is just “Well, I guess I can leave” or something. Admittedly, I still wouldn’t like that ending (cause I don’t want to see Risky beat Shantae) but that will still not be as bad as making it seem like Risky actually killed her. That’s just a level of sadness that doesn’t belong and ruins some of the fun.
I’ve talked a lot about the ending because that’s the biggest issue. An ending like that just ruins the fun of the story. I mean seriously, not just for someone like me. No one got what they wanted in that ending. People like me who didn’t want to see Shantae lose did’t get what they want, and people who wanted to see Risky completely win didn’t get it either. If they were going to do that, they might as well have not had the whole “destroyed Shantae” bit. I guess some people can argue that fun is subjective, and while that is true, there is no denying that a “the bad guy wins” gameplay scenario is a very different kind of fun from the normal gameplay of Shantae. It’s a clash severe enough that it should not have been done.
I’d like to mention at this point that I actually like Risky as a villain (which is a rare thing for me to say.). When they first announced Risky mode I was kind of excited too. I thought at first that it was just going to be either the same game, but with Risky playing the stages and it still being Shantae in the cut scenes, or the main game as Risky with no cut scenes. Then I found out she’d be getting her own story, so I was thinking maybe they’d just be showing what Risky was doing as Shantae was going about doing her hero work, but the ending would remain unchanged. (I had high hopes for what they would do with Risky because of her character development in Pirate’s Curse, I’ll talk more of that a little later.) Any of those options would have been many times better than what we got.
My complaint is not JUST with the ending, though. The ending actually made me really sad for a few days. The fact they actually put the line “I’ve finally destroyed that meddlesome genie” on screen without immediately (or shortly thereafter) showing the viewer that Shantae was actually okay, is just really saddening, even with the knowledge that it’s just a lie told by Risky. (I get that Risky saying at the end “Next time I will show no mercy” is supposed to be her admitting Shantae is fine because otherwise who is she showing no mercy to? At least, I think that’s what it’s supposed to be. But that’s just not enough. Shantae should have appeared on screen again to bring it back to something more positive.) Anyway, the writing as a whole in Risky mode just isn’t that good.
The writing in the Shante series has never been deep or innovative. But it has been good. It’s been fun, it’s been consistent, both in keeping the characters consistent and growing, and consistent in its quality. But the writing took a serious dive here. First of all, it doesn’t actually make sense with the main plot. So she did her whole thing in the time it took Shantae to recover from being turned dark? Why were the bosses still around to be fought at all? And there are other things that aren’t really explained such as why does Risky have any idea where to get the component parts she needs at all? Or the Genie Crystals for that matter. I’m not saying it needs to make sense in a real world sense, as many things in the Shantae world don’t. But the plot points and where you are traveling has always made sense in-universe or been explained, but Risky’s plot doesn’t have that.
There are a number of other things that also weren’t done very well. In the main street stage, she’s mad that her men started attacking without her? That’s her excuse for fighting her own men? Not to mention, what “starting?” They started the attack forever ago while she was with them, and they just never left Main Street so there is nothing to “start.” And then there is the matter of the equipment she gets after every stage. Like her hat. You mean she just got the hat that lets her float? You mean… the same hat she’s been wearing since the beginning of the game. The one that Shantae used in the previous game to float and that Risky got back? That hat? And on the subject of the upgrades after each stage, Risky has the same repeated lines after every stage. They didn’t bother to write her multiple or item/stage specific lines, she just says the same thing over and over again. (It’s funny how you don’t notice how well someone does something until they do it poorly. I never gave much thought to the individual lines after stages/areas in the Shantae series, but on reflection, they are written well.)
Also, multiple of the “components” had the same graphic. (Actually I think it was all but one had the same, but maybe I’m mis-remembering that.) If it was something like the dark magic I could be forgiving of that, but these were the major plot items she needed to power up the Dynamo. They should have all been different. And speaking of powering up the Dynamo, Risky’s hideout was built… that day? The final stage was something she threw together on the spot where the barrier between worlds was weakest? That huge fortress? Or did she carry a package of “Instant fortress: Just add Lava” in her pocket? I mean it might have actually been mildly amusing if that HAD happened, but instead – nope they built it just before Shantae got there. In the main game, I thought it had always been her hideout, or she had built it previously anyway.
And then there was a line after beating Hypno Baron: “You’re a disgrace, go and think about your life.” That line might have made sense if this was the Risky from the main game, but it doesn’t make any sense coming from the Risky they wrote for this mode.
The only section of the game that seemed to have any decent writing was Tassle Town. They actually gave a reason why the boss was still around. (Well, at least a reason why Holly was, they didn’t explain why Wilbur came back.) The writing was a bit more upbeat and the resolution (hammer-induced amnesia) was funny.
I’ll admit that the humor of the Shantae series has never really been my thing. I’ve chuckled here or there, said aloud to no one “That was amusing,” but I’ve never been rolling on the floor laughing at it. (My main draw to the Shantae series has been its charm, cuteness, the fun characters, Risky included, and the adventure.) But I didn’t laugh once in all of Risky mode. The only thing I found even mildly amusing was the previously mentioned hammer-amnesia. The normal humor from the game was just completely absent. Was I supposed to find the berating of her crew to be the funny parts?
Maybe part of the problem is that the happy and cheerful style of writing and joking they normally do in Shantae just isn’t compatible with a villain protagonist. The series as a whole has always been so cheerful and charming. Shantae is such a wonderful character. The “never give in” Pollyanna type character is great! All of the other characters also have such great personalities(even Risky normally), and, I’ll say it again, the game just has so much charm. But none of that is present in Pirate Queen’s Quest. Since it’s the villain protagonist, the whole game is just so much drabber. It’s missing the light-hearted element. It might have worked if they portrayed Risky as the softer and more comical villain from the main plotline, but they made this version of Risky too sinister and too evil.
Not to mention it clashes with writing from previous games and from this game itself. Even if this is supposed to be how Risky views herself and a lie told by Risky cause she can’t admit she lost, it doesn’t fit. Other people have pointed out that in the main game, Risky didn’t actually have any interest in killing Shantae. Most of Risky’s plan depended on Shantae winning throughout most of it, anyway. Even in the fight between them at the end, Risky wasn’t trying to stop/kill Shantae, just delay her until the machine was ready. It was only when Risky got angry at being defeated again that she said she’d send “Shantae to a fiery grave.” But in Risky Mode, at one point she says “I’ll have to take care of her for good.” It doesn’t make any sense for that to have been her line of thinking with the way she actually acted in the canon story.
At the end of Pirate’s Curse, Shantae and Risky had a chat at the Pirate King’s grave. It was a very casual almost friendly conversation. It made it pretty clear that Risky no longer hated Shante. Really, the only reason that they would remain enemies is because Risky wasn’t going to give up pirating, and Shantae was a guardian Genie. The bloodthirst for “destroying” Shantae should be gone after the events of Pirate’s Curse. Basically, Shantae’s caring personality had an effect on Risky when they teamed up. Actually, with that in mind the line I mentioned that she said to Hypno Baron would make more sense. Then she’d actually have a reason to suggest he think about his life, but if she’s as blood thirsty as they make her out to be, then why would she say that? Was it supposed to be sarcasm?
Instead of keeping the Risky from Pirate’s Curse going, they double-downed hard on making Risky in Pirate Queen’s Quest as villainous as possible. It just doesn’t connect with either the previous game or the actions in the canon plotline of this one. At one point she even said “I should have taken care of your friends first!” Again, the Risky from the main game, as well as the Risky that was at the end of Pirate’s Curse would not have said that because after all, Risky’s goal is not kill Shantae anymore. It’s just to take over Sequin Land.
And I’m not saying that Half Genie Hero’s Main mode is the pinnacle of perfect storytelling. It’s really not. If I turned a super critical eye on it, I’m sure I could find some poor writing sprinkled in, but Pirate Queen’s Quest is almost all bad. There are so many things they could have done, or done better, that would have improved it substantially.
In truth, it just feels like they didn’t try, like their hearts just weren’t in the writing of this one. It’s almost like they put Risky Mode as a stretch goal with the tagline “Finally Defeat Shantae”, but didn’t expect to get it. Then when the goal was reached they were like “Well darn. We got it, and since we said “defeat Shantae” we have to put it in there. Well, let’s do it, I guess.” It was just so unnecessary for it to end the way they did, and so much of it makes no sense with the story so far established.
I can think of many things that people who like Pirate’s Queen Quest are going to say to try and refute my criticism, but there is one that I do want to go ahead preemptively address: “It’s a non-canon alternate telling as told by the Villain. It doesn’t need to make sense.” The problem with that argument is that it very easily COULD have made sense if they just put a little more effort into it.
Imagine they had set it up as Risky’s side of the same story. I actually got the impression from the Barons at the end of the game that Risky had somehow been involved in each of their plans. So Pirate Queen’s Quest could have been that. She helps each baron in exchange for the components she needs to strengthen the dynamo after Shantae finishes building it.
Stage one, the normal attack. The excuse they used before (about them attacking without her, as much as I don’t care for it, would have made sense here, or they could just replace the tinkerbats with the big guards from Pirate’s Curse). Stage two, she talked Techno Baron into starting his mermaid canning operation. The boss fight against the mermaid would be reversed (fight her first unchained, then start chaining her up.) Tassle Town could be just about unchanged. It explains how Holly showed up in the first place, instead of being a temporary return. Risky then helps her tame Wilbur and then sends her to Shantae’s town to cause trouble, in exchange for the component hidden there. Cape Crustacean, she could be causing havoc in a practice race, then the fight against Ammo Baron would be against them with jetpacks instead of flying carpet clothes. She then makes a joke about the flying carpets being more effective than the jetpacks (giving him the idea for the clothes)and takes the component. The Hypno Baron could have gotten the idea from Risky to do the marketing campaign by teaming up with Squid Baron who makes his usual spontaneous appearance.
Then when Mimic turns on the machine, have Risky fight Shantae there, before she’s turned evil. After Risky wins, Shantae is kneeling and the machine turns her evil. That would fulfil the “Risky Defeats Shantae” part of the description just fine. And then the final boss fight, I dunno, maybe she fights a guardian Genie in the genie realm while Shantae is trying to deal with the Machine. After beating the genie, the machine takes over. Then we could maybe get some development where Risky realizes she may have gone too far. Or instead, maybe one of the alluded to greater evils pops up and tries to kill Risky and she fights it off. After the fight the realm turns back to normal and the game ends with Risky on her ship.
There are so many things they could have done that would have made the story of Pirate Queen’s Quest so much better, and as a result, the entire mode better. Instead, they went with something that was just not that good. As Twitch said in Pirate Queen’s Quest “I am boarded by this story.” Even the little fixes I mentioned earlier without completely rewriting the whole plot would have been a whole lot better. I still wouldn’t have liked it, I’ll admit, but I’d be a bit less critical if the ending wasn’t such a downer ending. They could even fix it if they wanted to. (I don’t expect them to, I’m just saying they could.) I’m not suggesting they patch the story to rewrite it entirely. That would take more time, money, resources, etc, than would be feasible at this point. But it would be nothing for them to patch in Shantae stealing from the machine (they could just have her do her “item get” pose in the background with one of the components), or even the other thing where they change the dialogue to make it not seem like Shantae is dead. (Maybe have Risky not say the “destroyed” line and instead reference Shantae escaping somehow. Or something like how Squid Baron got a line “I’m hiding off screen!” Shantae could have had a line like that and then Risky could go “Shut up!” and continue like Shantae hadn’t said anything.) Anything to make it not be such a downer ending. Those are sad, even if they are non-canon.
Six or so months ago, I was singing Wayforward’s praises. They always make such fun and light-hearted products, I’d tell all my friends about them. I’d recommend all of their games. I told a number of my friends about this Shantae series, and I told them about my fears of them doing exactly what they ended up doing. Every one of my friends said “Don’t worry. Wayforward doesn’t sound like the kind of company that would do that.” And they were all surprised when I told them they actually did. Even outsiders who haven’t played the game raised an eyebrow at this.
I was just going to buy the hero modes right away when they came out, but after this? My trust in Wayforward has been bruised, so I will be more cautious. I think I’ll youtube those too to see if they are any good. Hopefully the hero modes will be better all-around products than Pirate Queen’s Quest was.
I guess I will add here I’d like to know if anyone else was bothered by Risky seemingly killing Shantae in Risky Mode. But based on what I’ve seen, the only comments anyone has made before it came out was how much they were looking forward to beating Shantae up (which makes me sad), so I’m probably alone with these feelings.
Thanks for reading. I’m not trying to ruin anyone’s enjoyment of Pirate Queen’s Quest, but Pirate Queen’s Quest nearly ruined my enjoyment of Shantae (that may sound overdramatic, but it’s true) and it really could have been so much better. So I wanted to get that opinion out there so that if Wayforward does read this kind of feedback, they get it and might take it into consideration.
Perhaps it will seem a little odd to use my usual catchphrase in the face of such lengthy criticism, but I still do wish everyone the best. So, Be cool and smile, everyone!May 21, 2018 at 8:36 am #14767
100% agree. I hated the ending so bad i emailed Way forward to express my sadness. For days I was mad and sad they actually let Shantae be “destroyed” when she time and time again lets Risky escape and even saved her in Pirates Curse. Ugh… I was so angry I wrote a fanfic where Shantae “destroys” Risky once and for all!
Agreed. I just really loved the game and that part was unnecessary. Watched my friend play it so I will never download the add on nor play it. I just was really shocked and disappointed to see Shantae get beat like that. Takes the fun and attitude right out of the game. I won’t be happy til I get to play another Shantae and beat Risky!
You must be logged in to reply to this topic.