4.5 out of 5


  • Entertaining levels
  • Soundtrack
  • User interface
  • Beautiful graphics


  • Lack of clues
  • Octo Siren battle hiccup

Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, iOS
Adventure, Platform
File Size (Minimum)
2.1 GB
Release Date (NA)
May 28, 2020

Shantae the dancing half-genie debuted in June 2002. Eighteen years later, she is still working those hips and having great adventures. The latest entry, Shantae and the Seven Sirens, is no exception. With new teams helping out with the animations and soundtrack, Shantae doesn’t skip a beat. If you are yearning for a solid 2D platformer, Shantae and the Seven Sirens is your game.

A Time to Celebrate?

Shantae and the Seven Sirens - Screenshot

The game’s story is simplistic, but it works. Shantae and her friends visit an island for a week-long vacation where she was invited to a Half-Genie Festival. There, she meets other half-genies, and together they perform on stage to celebrate the existence of half-genies. However, during the show, all but Shantae disappear. It’s up to her to find the missing half-genies, since her friends would rather let the authorities take over so that they can enjoy their vacation.

While previous characters such as Ammo Baron don’t make a return, their absence doesn’t take the spotlight away from the new characters in the game. The series’ comical dialogue does come back, with many references such as the classic Dragon Ball anime. Although it feels like the previous entry, Shantae: Half-Genie Hero, had more humorous dialogue, Seven Sirens still has its funny moments.

Characters are well designed and gorgeous looking, especially the heroine Shantae. The game’s levels are vibrant and detailed, making exploring enjoyable. Additionally, enemy animations are fluid and fun to watch.

Explore the Island

Shantae and the Seven Sirens - Screenshot

Instead of choosing levels like in Shantae: Half-Genie Hero, the game’s levels are all connected, Metroidvania style. Being that it is a pretty large place to explore, the game introduces warp spots early on for convenient travel. The map of the island is also handy, but it’s too simple. Although sections are colored, only warp rooms and dungeon entrances are marked. Dungeon levels have their own maps and only display while you’re exploring them. Having labels on each section of the map would have been helpful.

While exploring, there are a ton of little secrets tucked away. Many of them are extra stashes of gems, but some lead to heart squids (heart pieces). However, you’ll have to be patient until you have the right transformation power to get these rewards. Also, be sure to go back to the town’s “blacksmith” to combine four heart squids into a heart container, a nod to The Legend of Zelda series.

At times, players may find it difficult figuring out how to proceed. Some rewarded items and non-player characters (NPCs) will offer clues on what to do next, such as repairing the broken fans on the island or collecting mermaid seashells. Otherwise, the game wants you to figure it out yourself by trial and error.

Sirens Go Off

Shantae and the Seven Sirens Screenshot

Eventually, you’ll find and go up against the Sirens of the game’s title. Battles against them are straightforward once you figure out their patterns, though some require patience. Like previous Shantae games, these fights are fun and enjoyable, even if they are pretty easy to conquer.

In the second half of the game, you’ll fight against the Octo Siren. In this battle, the screen is loaded with animations: the enemy’s tentacles, lighting bolts, and Shantae jumping around all over. Playing on the Nintendo Switch, there are some animation hiccups: some frames skip when Shantae jumps while trying to avoid enemy attacks. It’s not a major thing, but it’s noticeable. Fortunately, with the luck of the ability to disable the lighting attacks for a short time, the many animations don’t become too overwhelming.

New Ways to Transformation

Shantae and the Seven Sirens - Screenshot

Upon rescuing a half-genie, you will earn transformation coins. These let you transform into an animal by pressing a button on the controller. This is different from earlier Shantae games where you would normally have Shantae use her dance in order to choose a transformation. This streamlining of a familiar mechanic makes playing and transforming much easier and quicker.

Does this mean Shantae’s dancing transformations are gone? No. In Seven Sirens, Shantae can use the power from other half-genies to help unlock secrets and tackle enemies. Once you gain the first power, have Shantae perform her dance with a press of a button, bringing up a command menu to choose a power.

It’s not easy earning a half-genie’s power. In order to obtain it, Shantae has to do mandatory side quests. Some require you to explore certain areas of the island and collect items so you can gain a fusion stone. Fusion stones are key items to help “borrow” powers from half-genies. There is only one stone per power, so be prepared to spend some time exploring.

Card Collecting

Shantae and the Seven Sirens - Screenshot

Another new mechanic to the game is monster cards. When defeating a monster, they may drop a card for Shantae to collect. They aren’t just for show, though. Using RPG mechanics, you can equip up to three cards to help boost stats or cut down the magic usage of her transformations. They’re quite handy and helpful during battles.

Some cards are very rare, such as those for the Sirens, and require you to exchange gold nuggets with an NPC who happens to own one of those cards. Gold nuggets are similarly rare, requiring you to search and use your transformation powers to collect them. If you’re not sure which Siren card to spend your hard-earned nuggets on, the one that helps replenish your magic gauge should be one of the first ones you pick up. Another card that requires a ridiculous amount of nuggets reduces the cost of items in shops. However, since the game makes it easy to collect gems, that card is not that important.

Like real-life collecting, you will end up with duplicate cards. Luckily, there is an NPC who will buy them but not till about halfway through the game.

Inventory Check

Healing items are quite helpful in this game. Many of them are foods you’ll gain through battles. The downside is that you are limited to a maximum of nine. Gems have a similar limit: you can only have a maximum of 999. At the very least, if the game is already borrowing the idea of heart containers from Zelda, an option to obtain a bigger money pouch like in that series seems like a reasonable request.

Item shops carry magic weapons, upgrades to your hair attack, and items to help reduce the amount of magic spent. Some towns carry specific items such as the boomerang relic. Once you purchase one, you can upgrade your weapon relic to three stars.

When it comes to keeping track of everything, WayForward has once again done an excellent job with its user interface. It’s easy to switch between the inventory, map, and monster cards. Plus, it’s well organized and easy to follow. Great job!

Dance Your Butt Off

Shantae and the Seven Sirens - Screenshot

Aside from exploring, the game offers a dancing minigame in one of the town’s houses known as the Dance Parlor. To play, Shantae moves back and forth across the screen. Your job is to strike a pose and cause a star to fly up and hit the masks above. You’ll be rewarded with gems or the lone heart squid. Unfortunately, the game doesn’t tell you exactly what you need to do to win the squid but not missing a hit is the key.

Animated Flair

Shantae and the Seven Sirens - Animation Comparison

Studio Trigger, known for anime such as Kill la Kill, Promare and Little Witch Academia, lent their talents for Shantae’s opening animation. It was a big surprise and it is gorgeous looking. Once you start playing, animated cutscenes appear throughout the game, but a different animation studio is behind those. While they are enjoyable to watch, the dialogue scenes and frame rate seem a bit off.

It throws off the assumption that Studio Trigger would be creating all the animations for the game. Would it have been better to keep the same animation team for the rest? Possibly, if only for consistency. Regardless of who makes the cutscenes, hopefully future Shantae games will continue to have them.

Turn Up the Adventure!

Jake Kaufman, composer of Shovel Knight and previous Shantae games, doesn’t make a return for Seven Sirens. However, the game’s soundtrack is still quite strong. With upbeat and chiptune tracks, it’s catchy from the opening clip to the ending credits. The “Beach Travel East” and the “Boiler” tracks are no exception and stand out while exploring.

Shantae and the Seven Sires Soundtrack

After Saving the World

Shantae and the Seven Sirens - Screenshot

Players can expect to get through the game in at least eight hours without 100 percent completion. Add a few hours more for collecting all the monster cards and squid hearts.

After completing the game, Seven Sirens offers a new game mode with a new look and animation for Shantae. Additionally, Shantae’s magic increases, albeit with a lower defense to add challenge. Completing the game earns additional key art after the credits. After having such a fun adventure with Shantae, going into a new game mode shouldn’t hold anyone back from exploring the island once more.

One More Dance

With gorgeous character illustrations and vibrant level designs, Shantae and the Seven Sirens makes another bold statement for why Shantae has been going strong for eighteen years. It’s a fun, hair-whipping romp that no one should pass up. May the next eighteen years be filled with more amazing half-genie action!

A Nintendo Switch review code provided for this review. Shantae and the Seven Sirens now available now on the Nintendo SwitchPlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC (Steam), and iOS​.

Shantae and the Seven Sirens - Gameplay Footage

About Seth Hay - Editor-in-chief / Webmaster

When Seth is not designing or developing, he spends time with his family and his occasional dose of anime, sports and video games.

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