Introductory Game Spec.

Last updated: 2-5-97




It is a time of magic and majesty, where strange beasts roam the land and beautiful creatures wield powerful magic. In this world lives a young girl named Shantae…a troubled genie, born without magic, yet the only individual capable of saving the realm from disaster. Following a century of imprisonment underground, three powerful Jins have broken the seal that restrained them, and now seek to drain the world of the magic it needs to survive. As the magic is stolen, the peaceful creatures that once harbored it are left weak and helpless. Shantae, unaffected by the magic drain, is the only hope for peace. But can she possibly battle the Jins and their legion of monsters relying only on the magic she reclaims along the way? It’s up to you to guide Shantae through perilous traps and dangers beyond your wildest imaginings!


Shantae is designed for the PC or comparable game system (such as the Sony Playstation). The gameplay is full 3-D, with traditionally animated characters that move in and out of the rendered backgrounds. With this advantage, players can travel down streets, enter tunnels or battle monsters several times the size of the normal viewing area! Perhaps the best feature of this 3-D system is the totally hands-free camera movement. The view automatically zooms in or out, up or down depending on the proximity of Shantae to other important elements. In addition, the paths Shantae can take often split into different layers of depth, allowing the player to walk on near or far surfaces in order to get around obstructions, crevices, or buildings. Also, enemies can attack from any direction in three-dimensional space in order to hunt Shantae down. It’s the long awaited blend of 2-D’s fluid animation and 3-D’s next generation gameplay rolled into one!


The various playfields encircle an enormous lake, forming a complete ring. From anywhere, you can pick a direction to travel, and eventually you will circle the lake and end up where you started. This is called the "World Loop". Around the loop at regular intervals are towns and monster lairs. Towns provide fresh clues about where to go, and are also great places to stock up on magic and other useful items. Monster’s lairs are complex mazes the player must navigate through in order to confront the Lair’s Master. Defeating a Lair Master will grant Shantae a new form of magic she can use to explore new areas and open the next lair. In this way, the player may progress from lair to lair until they have enough magic to open the path to the Jin’s underground kingdom and the final battle.


Aside from towns and lairs, there are also modes of transportation, such as the Pirate Ship and the Sky Ferry. These allow the player quick access to areas on the other side of the lake. There are also shortcuts through every area that the player can discover with each new magical ability. This keeps the areas exciting and new with each visit, and allows the player to explore and find advanced forms of hidden magic. It will take clever use of Shantae’s abilities to find every item!


Of course, the treacherous traps and deadly enemies are sure to get the best of Shantae from time to time. If Shantae is ever defeated, the game is over and the player restarts at the most recent town or lair they have visited. The game always saves any item that has been recovered, but Shantae’s money will be reduced to zero at the beginning of each game.



At key moments in the game (usually when the player finds a new source of magic or visits a town under certain conditions), new pieces of the story are uncovered through small animated segments. These segments provide clues about where the Jins are rampaging next in their plot to steal magic. Often, Shantae must battle the Jins in order to move on, catching up to them as they torment townspeople or celebrate in the ruins of their recent battles. The Jins will accept defeat, but promise to be waiting at the end of the road. By the end of the game, the player will have a good sense of the enemy they are about to face…but are the Jins the ultimate power, or is something even more evil pulling their strings?



Shantae can perform these functions at any time in the game:


Hair Attacks:

Shantae’s main means of attack is her ponytail. With it she can whip enemies, collect items, and crack open objects. She can also purchase new hairstyles in each town, each possessing powerful special attacks besides standard whipping. To use these attacks, hold down the "whip" button for 2 seconds to power them up, then let go to launch the attack.

Summoning Magic:


Magic works on a point system. At the beginning of the game, Shantae’s Magic Points are at zero. Throughout the game she can gather and save them up…then spend them whenever she needs to summon help. Once activated, several magic points are depleted, and the power-up takes effect. Every time she defeats a Lair Master, she gains a new Magical Ability, but each gets progressively more expensive to activate. Here is a list of each Magic she will find in the order it’s available.


Summon Monkey--Shantae can summon a monkey to retrieve objects that require passing through small spaces or up walls. Like a boomerang, the monkey travels in the direction Shantae is facing, then returns to her with anything it finds. Then it vanishes.

Summon Elephant--Once summoned, the elephant tramples across the screen, smashing any enemies or obstacles in its way. This is highly useful for opening obstructed passages. Try running behind it to forge longer paths of destruction!

Summon Tiger--The tiger shows up and waits immediately in front of Shantae. By jumping onto it, Shantae gets one great leap forward. Once they land, the tiger poofs into smoke. This is important for jumping huge gaps that can not otherwise be crossed. Any enemies Shantae encounters while on the tiger will be shredded by a swipe of its deadly claws.

Summon Spider--Using the spider, Shantae can get a lift up sheer cliffs. Once summoned, it climbs straight upwards, leaving behind a web-strand Shantae can use. Once Shantae climbs up the strand, the Spider vanishes.

Revival Magic--This magic will refill Shantae’s life meter and restore her hair to normal. Basically, it’s a way to swap magic for life, or get back the original Ponytail Whip.

Harpy Transformation--Using this final magic, Shantae becomes a harpy (half woman, half eagle) for a limited time. During this time, she can jump repeatedly to flap her way to the sky and visit hard to reach places. You never know what’s up there!


Dance Attacks!

By switching to "Dance Mode", the button array and directional pad all represent different dance moves Shantae can perform, such as swaying, sidestepping, waving, and shimmying. In each of the five towns, a cantina can be visited where rows of dancers perform. By mimicking their moves, the player can memorize simple sequences. When successfully performed outside, the dances summon natural forces that effect all the enemies on the screen. The first dances are simplest, but they get progressively harder to memorize. Note that Dance Attacks use Magic Points too, so be wise with your spending! The following Dance Attacks are available:


There are three other outfits that Shantae can wear besides the one she begins with. To reach these magical costumes, the Dance Attacks must be used in out of the way places to open the vaults in which the suits are hidden. Finding them is not necessary to win, but it adds to the fun and helps Shantae get through some of the more difficult challenges. Use of the suits is automatic, and does not cost Magic Points.


There are three types of areas in the game: Towns, Lands, and Lairs. Here’s a quick look at these locations:


Towns are friendly places Shantae can travel to in her search for magic. The player may visit Inns (to save the game), the Soothsayers wagon (to get hints), Shops (for buying magic points and life points), Steam Baths (to regain strength), and Dance Halls (to learn the town’s dance). Also, Shantae can talk to townsfolk for special advice and fun conversation, or even purchase a horse to ride! Here are the names of the five towns:

  • Yosef’s Harbor

  • Bandit Town

  • Snowy Village

  • Mining Town

  • Royal Palace





Lands make up the sections of the game Shantae must navigate to make her way around the World Loop. They are heavily populated with enemies that can be battled in hopes of scoring Magic Points and Life Points, and occasionally money. Generally, they are not as tricky to navigate as the Lairs, but definitely pose threats of their own, usually due to the unique terrain. Each land also contains secret areas that can be opened with the help of Summoned Animals or Dance Magic. Here’s a list of the main areas in the World Loop:


Lairs are the places Shantae will face agents of the Jins, known as the Lair Masters. By defeating them, she will win new forms of magic. Here are the names of the lairs, the Lair Master, and which magic they are guarding:




Thanks for taking the time to read this introductory spec! Please inquire if you’d like to review the Full Design Document, which features an in-depth look at level designs, play mechanics, characters and story elements of the game!