As seen in: Shantae (Game Boy Color)
Also in: Shantae: Risky's Revenge (DSiWare)
Distinguishing feature: Cute, shape-shifting genie girl.
Strengths: Hair-whipping; dancing; can turn into animals.
Weaknesses: Doesn't get on too well with game publishers.

Profile by Tomm Hulett | February 1, 2010

For more on Shantae, see her alternate profile.

It’s extremely rare to see a child protagonist grow into a mature, accomplished, and overall “together” adult. Too often the thrills of becoming a video game icon lead young protagonists to hedonistic pleasures, substance abuse, and a meaningless string of soulless sequels, each more derivative and pandering than the last. Which is why it’s a huge (but welcome) surprise that young Shantae has matured into such a fine young lady.

Born in 1994, Shantae was raised by her natural parents, Erin Bell and Matt Bozon. The proud couple brought her up from the start to be in entertainment, and finally in 2002 Shantae starred in her very own self-titled Game Boy Color game. Remarkably, and with plenty of help from her stable family life, Shantae sidestepped the two biggest pitfalls that child protagonists often experience.

First, her debut focused only on Shantae’s natural talents. Too often a protagonist’s handlers will try to change them, to make them “what people want” rather than allow their natural qualities to shine through. Who can forget little Conker’s last-minute attitude adjustment from woodland youngling to foul-mouthed bad boy? No, Shantae’s game was a delightful side-scrolling adventure game in the vein of Simon’s Quest, where she attacked enemies by whipping her hair or transforming into various animals, accomplished by dancing. Shantae showed us all what it meant to be a spunky child genie, her game focusing on fun and adventure rather than attitude and/or badditude.

Secondly, Shantae handled life after the game with the grace and maturity of a protagonist twice her age. Focusing on developing herself as an entertainer before pushing out a sequel, Shantae returned to school, studying both the Game Boy Advance and the Nintendo DS. Despite the cries of loyal fans, Shantae made the difficult choice to live a normal, quiet life before returning to the limelight—and it’s made all the difference. Shantae is returning next year for her second adventure, which promises to be even better than the first.

The video gaming world looks forward to a bright future with Shantae. The last thing the industry needed was a repeat of Day Dreamin’ Davey’s Lohan-esque downward spiral, so we're grateful Shantae's remained the same innocent, lovable genie she's always been.

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