First appearance: Shantae (WayForward/Capcom, GBC, 2002)
Distinguishing traits: Hair-holding bicorne, gaping skull bustier/panty combination
M.O.: Manipulation, repurposing relics, hauling booty
Known crimes: Arson, looting, impersonating a genie, use of destructive devices, aggravated assault, extortion, intimidation, kidnapping, fraud, piracy

Profile by Nicola Nomali | February 12, 2011

In ages past, the Guardian Genies defended Sequin Land from those who would do it harm, and the peace that followed was welcomed by most as a prize to be promoted and nurtured. To some, however, the tranquility represented nothing more than an opportunity waiting to be exploited -- especially once the genies began disappearing, leaving only their half-blood daughters to continue their legacy. By the time a young half-genie named Shantae assumed the charge to serve as Scuttle Town’s guardian, for example, the shoes of Sequin Land’s premier villain had already been filled by the invincible lady pirate, Risky Boots.

Carrying herself with equal parts cruelty, clout, and curves, Risky Boots emerged on the scene as the unchallenged “queen of the seven seas,” plundering ports and terrorizing the coastline with impunity. In the covert settlement of Bandit Town, nestled deep in the hills of Mt. Pointy, she became a living idol to be feared and adored, gaining a haven from which to stab even deeper into Sequin Land’s soft heart. It’s said she once made frequent visits as far inland as the dunes surrounding Oasis Town, where she and her cutthroat crew shook down the populace for access to their own precious water supply.

At her ship’s wheel, she commands devastating gunpowder cannons; in hand-to-hand combat, her steel is unmatched, whether it be pistol or saber. Should anyone try to chase her, the trail inevitably ends either in Bandit Town -- where the resident wastrels are less than inclined to aid any buttoned-up do-gooders, to say the least -- or across the waves, as her ship disappears over the horizon. And should anyone try to overwhelm her with numbers, she can beckon to her loyal hordes of Tinkerbats at will.

The Tinkerbats -- wiry little beasts with grasping claws and obstinant gazes -- are as much a mystery as Risky is a menace. Obeying her every command (no matter how saltily worded), they silently execute her will with the proportional muscle of an army of ants. Tinkerbats are said to be talented handymen -- hence their name -- yet the nature and origin of their bond with Risky remain unknown. Whatever their reasons, though, their intelligence and seemingly inexhaustible manpower makes them perhaps the most important anchor in Risky’s ongoing reign.

Without the bats’ aptitude for tinkering, in fact, Risky could never have gotten so close to putting the screws to Sequin Land after she sacked Scuttle Town for its “steam engine” -- a device of lost technology, recently rebuilt from excavated guidelines. Heating water to generate power, the engine posed an industrial marvel as it was, but it was through Risky’s own devilish cunning that she saw a way to improve it toward her own purposes. By having the engine interface with four magical relics lying in ruins across Sequin Land -- the Dribble Stone, an infinite water source; the Simmer Stone, an infinite heat source; the frosty Twinkle Stone, to regulate the heat; and the stalwart Golem Stone, to stabilize the entire process -- she could create an engine strong enough to perpetually power a weapon as fearsome as she dared imagine.

And Risky Boots is nothing if not imaginative.

In hunting down the relics, Risky’s path crossed with that of Shantae, who was determined to stop her. The two had met before, but the more they ran into one another, the more Risky couldn’t resist dressing down the self-doubting greenhorn -- which often served enough of a distraction that the ruins’ guardians would get the drop on her. If Risky has any weakness, it’s moderation; soon, Shantae had scooped up three of the stones and was closing in on the fourth. Here, then, Risky turned Shantae’s naïveté to her duplicitous advantage. By posing as a fellow half-genie, Risky hid her fangs just long enough get close, then ambushed Shantae at the crucial moment and made off, up to her bosom in baubles.

Sequin Land would have had naught but to await its thrall, if only it weren’t still so replete with mystic curiosities for a genie girl in need. Shantae’s prowess for magic dance availed a legendary spy scope hanging in the desert sky, allowing her to view the location of Risky’s high seas hideout. There, she found the plot horrifically prepped and in motion: while she’d been scrapping for relics, an entire island of Tinkerbats had been working around the clock to erect a weapon built to take full advantage of the steam engine’s now-limitless power. The pirate queen’s maddeningly haughty laugh rang in Shantae’s ears as she fell to test out Risky’s treading behemoth: the All-Purpose, Steam-Powered Tinkertank.

Ultimately, as the story goes, Shantae overcame by stripping the relics right out of the tank and whipping the steam engine with her giant purple ponytail until the whole deal exploded. To see all her work go up in smoke like that really ground Risky’s gears, as one might expect. But her worst disgrace must have been after that, when, well into their final duel to the death, Shantae knocked her hat off. If anyone knew before then that letting Risky’s hair down wound her up like that, he didn’t live to tell the tale—and the lesson very nearly cost Shantae her pretty little nose. Alas, she shot Risky’s gut full of magic silky spider bullets and flew away while the whole island succumbed to a catastrophic case of active volcano.

For the time, Risky had lost. However, the same ingenious mind that had given birth to the Tinkertank was now consumed with the sole thought of paying back the harpy (literal harpy in her flight form, mind you) who had dashed that ambition. Her next plan would still ensure her subjugation of all of Sequin Land, of course—but this time, it would come with the bonus of personally putting Shantae through the emotional wringer. And the only way to stop it would rob the genie girl of something most precious and irreplaceable. No getting around it -- one way or another, Risky would have her Revenge.

But that story seems too recent to put down to ink here. Surely, if you’re reading this, you know how it goes, don’t you? And if you don’t, you know how to find out. Rest assured, it does justice to our leading lady—our shrewd shrew, diabolical diva, voluptuous villain, and angular antihero...the woman who wears the risky boots.

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