| Shantae

You may already know this, but Mighty Switch Force developer WayForward has been around the Nintendo handheld block for quite a number of years now.

The studio was making games for the Game Boy Color as early as 2000, and 2002 saw one of its most notable early releases, the original Shantae platformer.

The Shantae franchise has since expanded, of course, but for those people who missed the original it's well worth grabbing it from the 3DS Virtual Console.

Risky business

You play as Shantae, a half-genie-half-belly dancer chasing after a band of pirates who are threatening to take over the seven seas.

At the start, you can't really do much. You can whip your hair to take out enemies nearby, but for the most part you'll be dodging and running to stay alive through the 2D platforming levels.

As the game progresses, however, you'll acquire the ability to perform dances and transform into specific animals, giving you the extra skills necessary to pass certain obstacles and beat enemies.

Shantae is a notable Game Boy Color release for plenty of reasons. It has gorgeous colours and some fantastic animation, which really brings Shantae's world to life.

But it's the open-world feel of the game that really sets it apart. There's a cleverly designed central hub where you can partake in plenty of RPG-style elements, while the world itself sprawls all over the place.

Shan's Solo

The variety on show is rather brilliant, too, from the enemies to the environments to the weapons and animals that you'll get to experiment with.

Essentially, if you're planning to play the Shantae followups, this is a great way to get the backstory - plus, it's aged remarkably well.

That's not to say there aren't issues. The controls feel a little stiff in the modern age, and when the game drops enemies in close proximity to you it can be tough to dodge them.

And some of the level design is irksome. It can be difficult to work out what you can stand on and what's part of the backdrop sometimes, and I ended up falling to my death countless times.

Plus, you'll occasionally be put in a position where you have to jump off a ledge and into the unknown, and whenever this happens it's a gamble as to whether you'll fall to your doom or land safely on a ledge.

But don't let any of that put you off. Even with these quibbles, Shantae is one of the great Game Boy Color platformers, and if you haven't given it a play before it's well worth investing in.


Shantae is a handheld classic through and through, providing great platforming action with RPG elements