Shantae is a testament to blending the best of old and new ideas.  It captures the bright fun and precise controls while allowing the player the option for upgrades to reduce the punishing nature of classic titles.

To begin Shantae is jaw droppingly beautiful to play, I played it on both PlayStation Vita and PlayStation 4 and it is gorgeous on both, have to admit seeing the art on a big screen I stopped multiple times to take in the details and animation.  This was clearly a labor of love as the characters all move with a grace and fluidity rarely seen.

In addition to looking great the world of Shantae is colorful with vibrant levels and memorable enemies that focus more on being fun, cute, or cool, than any sense of reality.  This adds levity to the experience that may seem a bit punishing at first if you don't remember the SNES days of gaming.

Don't despair if you die on the first boss or two.  Shantae offers collectable upgrades as well as shop upgrades to mitigate the difficulty.  Increasing your life, defense, speed, and attack give a sense of progression.  Of course, for those that like a real challenge, try to beat this game without said upgrades.

A major part of Shantae's brilliance is in level design and use of transformations.  Think of Metroid when you couldn't access an area and then got an ability.  This makes back tracking to previous levels a treat rather than a grind and some secrets are quite hard or clever to deduce.  Figuring out many of these is optional, but for me were a must and loved every second of it.

In summation Shantae is among my best games of 2016.  The game is stunning, the controls are tight, the enemies are diverse and memorable, the level design is intuitive, the difficulty is easily adjusted by player choice, and the boss battle are grand.  I highly suggest any for any fan of plat formers such as Mario and Metroid series.  Do not overlook this remarkable gem of a title.