Risky's Revenge is... a game that charms and frustrates in equal measure. Though part of that is simply its age, a lot of it has to do with it feeling like a Super Nintendo game in both the good and
Despite being what it is - a DSi game sized up to the PC - generally Shantae looks pretty good for its age. It's well-animated with those limitations considered, though the HD graphics used for conversations and menus are both welcome and slightly jarring.
One of the big drawbacks, though, coming from the DSi, is that the movement feels slow, and it's coupled with "stop 'n go" enemies, like archers that require you to leap up into the air and repeatedly whack to clear them out of your way, or spitting foes that require you to slowly crawl towards them to engage safely. The worst offender are mermaids that appear in droves, which dive into puddles and it feels like it takes forever for them to reemerge. Maybe just a second or two, but it can make tracking back and forth a real chore. For some reason, they opted to put the warp stations to get you from area to area in out-of-the-way places, meaning that there's generally a walk to or from them to get to where you're going. And though in this kind of game you're usually given movement options that make trekking back and forth easier as time goes on, Shantae never really does other than offering new warp stations.
The controls work well for the most part, Shantae's transformations serve largely just as the lock-and-key for its exploration antics, with only one form - the monkey - providing a distinct advantage outside of unlocking play fields (it can climb walls and leap higher). Though the three additional forms are well-varied, there's not a world of reason to use them when they aren't needed. Generally, you'll be relying on hair-whipping and magic, though one kind of magic (the spiked ball) stands out above the others, often protecting Shantae and also enhancing her melee capabilities, while the others are far more situational. You'll need them all - there's at least one lock for all them - but they aren't strongly balanced. She also has another costume which basically just reduces her magic cost and increases damage, but unfortunately you can only see it by finishing the game, unlike the iOS version that gave you the option to switch back and forth very early on.
Shantae relies on doors that move you across lateral dimensions, and areas like the forest are easily five areas deep. Using the map becomes a necessity at times, since it's easy to get lost otherwise because of this. The forest is a particular offender, and it can be tiresome if you go through the wrong door or lose track of which area you're in at a given moment.
That being said, it does have a lot of charm to it, though a lot of the humor is hit-or-miss. Having both a female protagonist and anatagonist is rare and welcome, though the "sexy" female enemies feel gratuitious at points. If you're interested in the Shantae series, the plot of this game leads directly into the vastly improved sequel (Pirate's Curse), and it's worth a lark when it's on sale for two bucks and change, since it hardly overstays its welcome unless you focus on collecting everything in the game. I can't recommend it unconditionally, though, and you have to go in being aware of its foibles. If you're okay with that, it's a decent little exploration platformer, though with Steam exploding with excellent games in that genre, it's hard to recommend it on that alone. It comes from a period where Wayforward was putting out nostalgia efforts that had a lot of cargo cult design, and this definitely feels like its aping games of the 90s without improving on them. It's not a bad game, but PC platforming has gotten so refined that it doesn't quite stand out.