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June 2024

Shantae Advance: Risky Revolution

Platform(s): Game Boy Advance, Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5
Genre: Action/Adventure
Release Date: October 2024


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'Shantae Advance: Risky Revolution' Developer Interview - Part 2

by Adam Pavlacka on April 5, 2024 @ 12:45 a.m. PDT

In this hair-whipping, belly-dancing action-adventure, Shantae's nemesis, the nefarious pirate Risky Boots, has a "groundbreaking" new scheme that will leave Sequin Land spinning.

The GBA version of Risky Revolution is only available via pre-order until April 7, 2024.

I recently had a chance to go hands-on with an early build of Shantae Advance: Risky Revolution for the Game Boy Advance. After demoing the game, I sat down with Erin Bozon, the creator of Shantae at WayForward; Matt Bozon, chief creative officer at WayForward and the director of the Shantae series; and Alena Alambeigi, VP of marketing and digital publishing at Limited Run Games.

Erin, Matt and Alena chatted with me about the history of the series, what it's like to revive a project that's been in storage for roughly 20 years, and how Shantae has become a family affair for Erin and Matt. Read on to learn more about how Risky Revolution is making the journey from a canceled project to a full-fledged physical release for Game Boy Advance in 2024.

This is the second half of our chat. Be sure to read part 1 of the developer interview for Shantae Advance: Risky Revolution.

This transcript has been lightly edited for clarity.

WP: Speaking of the older hardware, obviously we've got newer hardware like the Analogue Pocket, but there's been a resurgence in retro gaming. What's it like for you guys to see this resurgence, this interest, in your 20-year-old game? People are coming to Limited Run, making pre-orders, saying, "We want to buy this cartridge", sight unseen?

Erin: You know, ever since the first one, that only did so poorly and only released 10,000 copies, and then hearing people wanting to buy it, complaining about how expensive the first game was, and then having Limited Run come along and say, "Hey, we'll do a reprint of that first game so more people could play it," that's always your dream when you're making a game. You want the most people to get to play it. We're just so thankful and happy that more people are able to go back and play the older games, and we love that people are still into them. I mean, for us, it's like a dream come true.

Matt: I think you said it best. I'm not sure I have anything more I could add to that.

Alena Alambeigi: I wanted to add too, like you said, the first Shantae game came out, and it reviewed very well, but it didn't sell very much. I think partially, maybe, because it was the end of the life cycle of the handheld, right?

Erin: The time wasn't great for us.

Alena: Between then and now, the series blew up, and when we sold the original print of Shantae ...

WP: The Limited Run re-release of the original Game Boy Color Shantae ...

Alena: Yeah, it sold more through us than it did back in the day.

WP: Wow!

Alena: Which is crazy, so obviously there's a massive demand for this. Limited Run is super, super excited to be able to help them bring this out. I mean, even the story is crazy. Right?

Matt: It's pretty weird. There's not really, I can't think of a lot like this. I mean, I know people do retro homage games. I love them. I play them. But this is a weird situation. I don't know how many incomplete games are just sitting around.

Erin: Especially that far through.

Matt: Usually if it's that far along, if something's that far along and it gets canceled, it doesn't usually come back.

Erin: A lot of games start, you know, they start development and get canceled, but this one was so far along.

Matt: Right, but even if you could bring it back, usually there's an argument for, "Why would you bother? Why spend the time?" We talked about this, too. It's like, "Well, we could make a new game. Wouldn't that be nice?"

Erin: I always want to continue to make more and more Shantae games. That's always on the horizon.

Matt: But I know it bugged, not just you and me, but everybody — fans, too — knowing that there was some game that had gotten so far that was sitting around that nobody could play. The other thing that we knew is that it was actually a good game, too. It's not like it was canceled because it was bad. We had poured so much love into that game; it was very sad to have to stop working on it.

Erin: Story-wise, it's nice to go back and introduce characters for the first time that maybe hadn't been introduced or tell more of their backstory. I feel like we're bridging the gap between some of the other games that we didn't get to do before.

WP: Speaking of story, I think you said during the demo that this is officially Shantae two. Timeline-wise, it would be Shantae two, even though it's not the second game as far as releases, correct?

Erin: Yes, it's considered two.

Matt: Canonically yeah, it's two, but in order of release if you had a, I don't know, if you had to line them up on a shelf, I think people are going to kind of have to make a decision there. Do they put them, well how would you do it? Would you line them up as canonically in order? Because the canonical order in story is also the order that it was developed, but it's not the order in which the fans will receive it. They'll get this game last. For fans, I imagine this would be tricky, but Risky's Revenge was our game number three. Pirate's Curse was our game number four, and Half-Genie Hero was our game number five. Seven Sirens was our number six.

Erin: It'll be interesting to see what people do. Like, what order they put them in, because it doesn't have a number two on it.

Matt: Yeah, we never actually put numbers on except for when we made the funny and put the hairdo, made her ponytail shaped like a five, which now I completely regret. What an exciting move that was locking that in, but it looked cool at the time!

WP: It's one thing to reprint an old cartridge, but it's another to make a new Game Boy Advance game. As you said earlier, this release is completing something. Have you thought about, if this is successful, would you maybe release and develop another original Game Boy Advance title? Or is that in the past for you guys?

Matt: This did cross my mind. Have we talked about this?

Erin: No.

Matt: It's crossed my mind before. I'll just tell you when we opened everything back up and started playing with the tools and things, it really did bring back like, "Oh, this is actually really fun to do." It's so nice when you have a tiny team of just a few people, and you know that you're working directly on the things that the audience is going to experience. It doesn't have as many layers of abstraction and other people, but then on the other side, you don't have as much collaboration. You get a lot of nice collaboration with larger teams, and we don't have huge teams, I'm talking like a dozen people. If you have several animators, you're going to get great ideas. Programmers working on different bosses are going to feel differently. It's pretty nice. You get a lot of benefit from a lot of team members bringing ideas. But boy, it's fun to make a game. I mean, you guys know if you've made any. Anyone out there who does a homebrew project or something kind of like a game jam-type experience, it's very fun to just work with a small group. So yeah, I miss it. I don't know. I can see doing it again someday.

Erin: I'm not sure. We have so many ideas of other Shantae games and how the story is going to progress. It just depends on how, you know, what's the fastest way to get it out there so that fans can play another game.

Matt: When you're talking about faster, it's not like we're in any particular hurry. We're just aware that Seven Sirens was 2019. That's a long time, and that was the most recent game. These things take a long time.

Erin: Half-Genie Hero took like five years.

Matt: In development, it was five years.

Erin: Even though that game has a lot of content, we had more time to work on it. It kind of just depends on what kind of deal we can make with the next Shantae game, budget-wise and time-wise. The fact that the fans keep showing their love means that we have a chance of making another game. It's all based on the fans' support, really.

Matt: That's true.

WP: We're running low on time, so is there anything we haven't talked about, that either one of you would like to add?

Matt: I would say, depending on when this goes live, what's very important is this game is a pre-order until April 7th — that's if you want the physical cartridge, because the physical cartridge is the actual Game Boy Advance game. The game you couldn't get if you're a retro collector and you always wanted it. This is how you get that version of the game.

Erin: We're not going to reprint it again.

Matt: That pre-order window will close up on the seventh, and it's not like there's a pre-order, and then it's just open for like regular order.

Erin: It's the only order.

Matt: Yeah, pre-order is the only order. After that, it will get ported on Carbon Engine, so it'll be like when we did our port of Shantae one. That process is underway, but it will be a while. You won't be playing it right away on your home console. So if you want to get it, and you want it on the cartridge, and you want to play it on authentic hardware...

Erin: Or if you're a collector and you really want it for your collection. This will be the only time you can get it, would be by April 7th, putting in that pre-order.

Matt: Yeah, go get it! And if you're like, "Hey, that's a bunch of money for a Game Boy Advance game!" just do a real quick inflation calculator on how much a Game Boy Advance game at $39.99 in 2002 costs in 2024, and you'll see that it's a great deal!

[Editor's Note: The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics CPI inflation calculator reports that $40 in 2002 is equivalent to about $70 in 2024.]

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