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Portabliss: Shantae Risky's Revenge (iOS/DSiWare)


Did you know that you can download handheld games now? That's amazingly convenient! The only inconvenient part of it is finding the right games to buy -- and that's where we come in, with our Portabliss column. In each installment, we'll tell you about a downloadable game on the iPhone, iPad, Android device, DSi, 3DS, PSP, etc. Today: Shantae: Risky's Revenge.

For many reasons, some worthwhile and some not so much, people balk at the idea of playing a DSiWare game. And that means that most of them missed Shantae: Risky's Revenge, which was not only the highest-rated DS game of last year, but happens to be a damned lovable game.

It's a good thing, then, that it's come to a download store that people are willing to admit patronizing (the iOS App Store). And the virtual controls work well enough that you'll be able to enjoy the game, though you may find yourself occasionally pining for the luxury of a d-pad you can both see and feel.

Developer WayForward began the series back on the Game Boy Color, featuring its original character, a half-genie who attacks by whipping her hair and can transform into animals with some very fancy dancing. In this Metroidvania-esque sequel, Shantae works to protect her town from the mischievous pirate Risky Boots (that's really her name), chasing after her in an attempt to get a stolen lamp back and getting into battles with three "Barons" who are bandits, con artists, and also monsters. It's quirky and adorable, in a manner reminiscent of classic 8- and 16-bit platformers.

Unlike the DS version, I can tell you without hesitation to go try it out -- as a demo version is offered in the App Store as a free download. To get the full game, you'll have to pay $2.99 as an in-app purchase (or 1200 DSi Points if you choose the DSiWare version).

For better or worse, you'll never forget this is a DS game: the display is windowed, and looks a lot like a slightly blown-up DS game. The animation and sprites are still notably lovely, but would look a bit nicer in native resolution. On the upside, the windowed display helps keep the virtual controls out of the way. You'll also have to find save points to make sure you keep your progress, which is annoying on a platform in which you frequently have to shut a game down to take a call. So it's possible that playing the iOS demo might inspire you to pick it up on DS. It still technically works as a demo, though!

Shantae: Risky's Revenge is available on iTunes for free, with a $2.99 in-app unlock, and on DSiWare for 1200 DSi Points. We're always looking for new distractions. Want to submit your game for Portabliss consideration? You can reach us at portabliss aat joystiq dawt com.

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