Way back in 2002, a simple and fun game called Shantae was released on the Game Boy Advance. In 2010, it got a sequel as a downloadable title for the Nintendo DS called Shantae: Risky's Revenge. That game has now been ported to iOS devices, bringing all its charm and humor along for the ride.
Shantae is your player character for this adventure. She's a half genie belly dancer tasked as the guardian of a village who battles foes by whipping her hair back and forth like Willow Smith. If that wasn't strange enough for you, there's also steam punk robot pirate ships, zombies that communicate through an international spider web, and animal transformations. Yeah, this game has a lot of random awesome stuff in it. Risky is a pirate that comes along and steals a powerful magic lamp, and you have to get to the three magic seals of the lamp before she does and save the world, to put it in a nutshell.
The game is an open world 2D Metroidvania platformer, in which gaining new abilities gives you access to new parts of the map. There is a lot of exploring involved in the game, and at its core it plays a lot like Castlevania. You can cast magic spells and use items that are all bought in shops. Eventually, Shantae will gain the ability to transform into various animals, such as a massive elephant or quick and nimble monkey that can climb and fit into small spaces. My main complaint with the game is how easy it is to get stuck because you missed a small detail in the environment. Though, if you keep exploring every nook and cranny, and you'll find your way through. Also, the platforming feels very choppy and awkward. It's normally fine, but sections of the game that require precision jumps can be daunting.
The game has a gorgeous retro aesthetic, and great art all around. The music and sound effects are all well done. The writing and dialogue is some of most clever and hilarious stuff I've seen in a long time. The world is just vibrant and full of life, and you never know what's around the next corner. Game Center is supported in this iOS universal game, and you can download it now for free. You only get the beginning of the game, and must unlock the rest through a three dollar in app purchase, but I highly recommend it. At least try the free version out. While it isn't perfect, this is one of the most creative games I've played in a long while, and I'm glad it's getting more exposure by being on iOS devices.