Shantae: Half-Genie Hero is the fourth game of the Shantae series. The game follows Shantae, the titular half-genie, as she does her best to protect her island as the resident Guardian Genie while helping her Uncle Mimic finish creating a machine that will help her protect the island forever.
On the surface, the gameplay isn't significantly different from its predecessors. You still do the basic platforming and you still attack with hair whips. However, for those who played Shantae and the Pirates Curse, there's are a couple of key differences. In Pirate's Curse, Shantae didn't have her magic, and needed to acquire and use Risky's equipment to progress. Magic effects had to be used via consumable items - specifically the Pike Ball and Bubble effects. In Half-Genie Hero, Shantae has her magic back, signalling the return of animal transformations and the ability to use magical attacks, from Pike Balls to Fireballs to Lightning strikes.
Each animal transformation and magic attack can be acquired via finding/purchasing Dances or Relics, either during story progression, out in the wild, or at the Item Shop. There are more than a dozen transformations to acquire, and you will need several of them to progress. You'll be revisiting the levels a few times as you expand your transformation abilities, but the levels are short enough that it doesn't really cause much frustration. In addition, there's a Warp Dance that you can acquire early in the game, which allows you to jump to various points in the level.
Mechanics-wise, the game feels reasonably intuitive, though it takes a few minutes to figure out the magic attacks. The music's nice, and feels appropriate for the levels. There are a few remixed versions of old music from previous games, which was a nice touch.
The title update added Hardcore Mode to the play modes, which is basically the normal game but with the enemies hitting harder and faster. Since Normal Mode can feel kind of leisurely at times, this was a welcome update, and I'm looking forward to playing it through to the end.
There are three DLC packs available for download, each having a set of achievements to go with it. The Costume Pack and Friends to the End packs are both going for $7.99 at the time of writing, while Pirate Queen's Quest is going for $9.99. I have not purchased them yet, as that feels a bit pricey for add-ons. If you have to have it, I would suggest purchasing/playing Shantae: Half-Genie Hero Ultimate Edition instead, as all the DLC is included and costs $29.99 at the time of writing.
A small, fun platformer with plenty of anti-frustration features.