The best reason so far to own a DSi.
For those unfamiliar with the original, Shantae is a 2D side-scroller with Metroidvania tendencies. There are no distinct levels here, only one big, wild world. Shantae herself is a half-genie who traverses the Arabian landscape using magic spells and animal transformations that allow her to access previously inaccessible areas. These powers are discovered in dungeons that are scattered throughout the world. Boss monsters are beaten and secret caves are explored. Shantae also tangles with her arch-nemesis, Risky Boots. This DSiWare sequel also tosses in some questing for good measure. In addition to morphing into different creatures, Shantae will also find herself searching for coffee ingredients, a lost dog, and baby octopi.
The game's biggest asset is the art direction: WayForward is one of the most talented 2D developers around from a creative standpoint (evidence: Batman: The Brave and the Bold and A Boy and His Blob) and that really shines here. The environments are colorful, the characters expressive, and the animation is superb. This is a first-rate game from a graphical standpoint. The music comes in at a close second. Classic themes from the original are remixed here in addition to new tunes, all of which are catchy and have an underlying Middle Eastern vibe that's fitting and distinctly different than music you usually hear in games.
It controls like a dream, too. Shantae jumps, evades, uses magic attacks, runs (or walks), and whips enemies with her ponytail like nobody's business. You can select her magic attacks on the fly using the touch screen as they become available. You can purchase upgrades at the game's shop that increase her hair's attack power, give you more powerful spells, and supply much needed health and magic-restoring items. Her animal forms all have additional powers that are found in the environment that are required to progress.
The level design is great, but the map makes it tougher to navigate than necessary. The map screen never changes, and only shows the bare minimum of details to figure out where you are in relation to the rest of the world. Dungeons are not shown at all, even when you're in them, which can lead to a lot of aimless wandering. This problem is intensified when you toss in small caves that are not on the map at all and hide treasures that you will need to buy the higher-end magic attacks or secondary animal powers. The fact that they're not marked on the map in any way means you'll be scouring the entire world looking for a particular cave and have no idea whether you completed this one over here or not. The map is the game's one big stumbling point. It's also somewhat disheartening that the game offers no unlockables for achieving 100 percent completion.
While irritating, these inconveniences don't affect the game so much that it becomes unenjoyable, and much of the collecting is optional anyway. Shantae: Risky's Revenge has turned out to be one of the best games on DSiWare, and also one of the best reasons to own a DSi. The 1,200 Nintendo Point price might be hefty for some, but I can guarantee that this game is a bargain at twice the price.