Shantae is returning to Switch with a brand-new adventure on May 28th, 2020 entitled Shantae and the Seven Sirens. We're huge fans of the Shantae series here at GoNintendo, and we're sure you guys are too! That's why we reached out to WayForward's Matt Bozon to chat him up about the mystical genie's next outing. Check out the interview below to see what new tricks Shantae has up her non-existent sleeves this time around, and learn about some behind-the scenes tidbits you haven't heard anywhere else!
A huge thanks to Matt Bozon and the whole WayForward team for working with us on this interview. Also, another thanks to our Patreon gang for submitting a question!
GoNintendo: We've heard that the original idea for Shantae and the Seven Sirens has been kicking around for quite some time. Why was now the time to take on this adventure?
MATT: The previous game, Half-Genie Hero, was Shantae’s first console-specific outing. So we wanted to make it a good starting point for new players who weren’t caught up on the lore. With Seven Sirens, it felt like the right time to strike out in a brand-new direction and get Shantae away from the usual sights and sounds of Sequin Land! If this is your first Shantae game, no problem...it’ll be all-new anyway! But if you’ve played all four previous games, get ready to see things shaken up a bit!
GoNintendo: Shantae and the Seven Sirens has had quite the unique release schedule, launching in two parts on Apple Arcade, and then coming to traditional platforms later. What lead to this approach?
MATT: Our goal was always to launch simultaneously on Apple Arcade, Xbox One, PS4, Switch, and Windows PC. Apple had presented us with a great opportunity to be part of Apple Arcade launch. But development ran late, and since we were committed, we opted to release the Apple Arcade version in two parts. It wasn’t planned exclusivity, but more of a desire to be part of an exciting new platform. So, we’re very grateful to fans who waited patiently for the game to be completed. I hope they will be very happy with the end result!
GoNintendo: We know that Shantae makes her way through an underground city this time around, but what other unique aspects await players in this outing?
MATT: Seven Sirens is a large, interconnected world with multiple towns, much like the original Shantae game. Stand-alone labyrinths are also back, and this time the player’s transformations are instantaneous, somewhat similar to the abilities in Pirate’s Curse. Some of the monsters known to roam Sequin Land return to fill out the enemy ranks. But there are new tropical-themed ones unique to the island. This is important, because defeating monsters can cause Monster Cards to drop, which can grant Shantae a new ability. Knowing your monsters is key to maxing out or customizing Shantae’s abilities. Magical upgrades are a mix of old favorites and fresh new ideas, and transformations are all-new aquatic-themed creatures. We’ve already shown off the Dash Newt, Gastro Drill, and Bonker Tortoise. The story is very different as well. Rather than focusing on Shantae’s rivalry with Risky Boots, it revolves around Shantae’s new Half-Genie friends, and a terrifying encounter with the Seven Sirens. As with previous games, Shantae’s friends are there to add humor and hijinks, but there are intense and creepy encounters, too. The Sunken City is often a suffocating and dangerous place, and players will feel that each time they return to the welcoming warmth of the surface world. This is a very different game compared to Shantae’s past outings.
GoNintendo: What tweaks/updates can we expect in Shantae and the Seven Sirens on consoles as compared to mobile?
MATT: When the console version launches, it will bring some additional features which will also arrive on iOS, TVOS, and Mac OS. There have been many quality of life improvements, and some more animated cutscenes, too!
GoNintendo: Will Switch-specific features be utilized?
MATT: Yes, the Switch version supports HD Rumble!
GoNintendo: You're working with different composers on Shantae and the Seven Sirens than with previous installments. What led to the change-up?
MATT: That’s true. Near the end of Half-Genie Hero, WayForward audio lead Jake Kaufman left to start up a new music studio, Mint Potion! We’ve continued working with Jake and his team on Cat Girl Without Salad and Vitamin Connection! But we’ve also expanded to include new talent, like Megan McDuffee (River City Girls), and Bravewave (Bloodstained, Spidersaurs, Shantae and the Seven Sirens). In Seven Sirens, you’ll hear music by Granblue Fantasy’s Professor Sakamoto, and tracks by Maddie Lim (OK K.O!), Gaven Allen (Mummy Demastered), and Daily Chiptunes composer Mark Sparling! We can’t wait for you to hear it!
GoNintendo: What feature are you most proud of in Shantae and the Seven Sirens?
MATT: The Monster Card collecting aspect is really fun, and creates a lot of new ways to approach the game on subsequent playthroughs. Shantae’s new animal forms are also very fun, and are incredibly fast — especially when combined with certain Monster Card combinations. But, outside of the gameplay, I love the opening animation by Studio TRIGGER. I’ve probably watched it a hundred times, and just can’t get tired of it!
GoNintendo: Shantae and the Seven Sirens features animated cut-scenes, which seem to fit ridiculously perfectly with the Shantae world. Truth be told, the original animated intro for Shantae and the Seven Sirens brought a tear to my eye! What lead to this decision, and is there any chance at all we could see standalone Shantae animated shorts in the future?
MATT: Thanks! This was the result of Shantae creator Erin Bozon (Futurama), who produced remotely on our side, and Naoko Tsutsumi (Little Witch Academia) who produced Studio TRIGGER’s efforts directly. Trigger was encouraged to go wild with the designs, and what they made was truly awe-inspiring. We would not hesitate to make animated shorts, or a TV show, if the opportunity presented itself!
GoNintendo: Is there ever any desire within WayForward to take the Shantae brand and work on a spin-off? Something in a new genre, or perhaps an adventure that focuses on one of the side characters?
MATT: I’d love to do this someday. The Shantae universe has so many fun characters that it’s getting difficult to include them all in a single game!
GoNintendo: Shantae retains classic game trappings while expanding with new ideas, and getting fleshed out with gorgeous cut-ins, animated segments, and more. As the series continues to expand, what is the one core aspect that's important to retain going forward?
MATT: I find that it’s extremely important to be true to the Shantae character, and to the fans who love her. Shantae is naive, hot-headed, cheerful, shy, loud, outgoing, weak, and powerful all at the same time. And she’s always growing, searching for whatever it is she feels she must one day become. She has highs and lows, fights for what she feels is right, sometimes makes mistakes, and always promises to do her very best!
GoNintendo (Bonus Question): As a longtime Shantae fan, I would love to see the dancing mechanic return from the first game. I loved actually having to input button presses to perform a dance correctly and then transform. Why did you move away from that, and could it ever return?
MATT: We moved away from that because we received a lot of feedback after releasing the original Game Boy Color game. Some players loved platforming and adventuring, but could not play a rhythm game to save their (or Shantae’s) life. If we ever decide to remaster the original game, we’ll need to bring it back and make it something that folks less rhythmically inclined can still pull off. Sounds like a very fun challenge!