Every weekend, Windows Central livestreams an Xbox One or Steam game for 1-2 hours and gives out free games to the cool people who join us during the stream. It's like a live podcast, only you also get to watch a game while chatting with our awesome readers and viewers! We call this show Saturday Game School, because learning about new games is always fun.

Tonight on Beam, we played Shantae: Half-Genie Hero from WayForward. Half-Genie Hero is a traditional platformer with gorgeous hand-drawn artwork and fantastic music. Read on for impressions, contest winners, and the full video replay.

Shantae: Half-Genie Hero

Shantae: Half-Genie Hero Xbox One

WayForward's Shantae series got its start way back on the GameBoy Color. Since then, the half-genie heroine has returned in several sequels, each expanding the scale of the story and Shantae's powers. Just before 2016 came to a close, the Kickstarter success story Shantae: Half-Genie Hero finally arrived on Xbox One, Steam, PlayStation 4 and Vita, and Wii U.

As the game begins, Shantae's uncle, an inventor, has just discovered the ancient blueprints to a machine of untold power. Before he can complete its construction, the blueprints are stolen by nefarious lady pirate Risky Boots. Thus, Shantae begins a quest to recover the plans, complete the ancient machine, and thwart the aspirations of her pirate nemesis.

Shantae: Half-Genie Hero Xbox One

Half-Genie Hero is the first Shantae game designed for the ground up in HD, and it shows. The game mixes gorgeous 2D sprites and character art, 2D gameplay and 3D backgrounds – much as in WayForward's excellent Ducktales Remastered. Shantae can run, jump, and whip enemies with her hair, but her abilities go far beyond that. Over the course of the game, she'll gain more than 10 animal transformations that provide new combat and traversal abilities.

Shantae: Half-Genie Hero is an extremely well-made platformer. Although it doesn't feature the open world design of a Metroidvania game, players can still discover plenty of secrets by revisiting old areas after gaining new abilities. Other than a few overly difficult bits towards the end and too little voice acting, Half-Genie Hero has little room for improvement. Pick it up for a solid helping of platforming charm and challenge.

See on the Xbox Store

The Contest

Shantae: Half-Genie Hero Xbox One

We streamed Shantae: Half-Genie Hero for ~90 minutes tonight, starting at 9pm Eastern (8pm Central, 6pm Pacific, 2am GMT). During that time, we gave out a total of 22 game codes:

  • 10 Shantae: Half-Genie Hero for Steam
  • 3 Shantae: Half-Genie Hero for PlayStation 4 (North American accounts only)
  • 3 Shantae: Half-Genie Hero for PlayStation Vita (North American accounts only)
  • 6 Mixed Xbox One games donated by our own Paul Acevedo

See the contest winners at the end of this story.

How to watch Beam livestreams

Shantae: Half-Genie Hero Xbox One

We're now streaming on Beam, Microsoft's interactive livestreaming platform. It provides some welcome improvements over Twitch, such as a cleaner website layout, built-in stream interactivity, and extremely low latency.

You can follow our channel at Beam.pro/WindowsCentral. From there, you'll be able to watch the stream and participate in chat directly from any web browser, including the Xbox One and Windows Phone browsers.

To receive email notifications when our Beam streams go live:

  1. First, follow our channel.
  2. Now select your profile from the top-right corner of the screen.
  3. Pick the Account option near the bottom of the menu.
  4. Go to the Notifications tab.
  5. Make sure Send me important email updates on the Beam platform is enabled. This option is labeled deceptively, but it's required for all forms of email notifications.
  6. Click or tap the Email box next to our channel name until a check appears. That's it!
  7. We highly recommend that you set a recurring alarm on your phone. Our weekend stream always starts at the same time (9pm Eastern/6pm Pacific), so the phone reminder can be very helpful.

Beam does not offer Xbox One or Windows Phone apps yet, so watching from the browser is the only option on Microsoft platforms. But Beam does offer apps on Android and iOS. Yes, that's a strange inequity. Native Xbox and Windows 10 support is coming though, so stick with us!

Future streams

Shantae: Half-Genie Hero Xbox One

Want to know what's next for Windows Central's weekend Beam programming? We stream a different game every Saturday (and sometimes Sunday). The stream always starts at the same time: 9pm Eastern (8pm Central, 6pm Pacific, 2am GMT). Over the next few weeks, we'll be streaming the following (schedule not finalized):

  • March 4: Instant Indie Hits Bundle from Curve Digital and Microsoft. Win a code for 10 indie games, a tremendous value! The Instant Indie Hits Bundle is only $20 and available through March 9.
  • March 11: Star Trek Online from Perfect World. Go where no one has gone before in this free MMO and win premium items for Xbox One and PlayStation 4!

We hope you'll tune in as often as you can! Set a recurring alarm on your phone so you'll always know when it's time for the stream to start.

Winners

Shantae: Half-Genie Hero Xbox One

Come back here after the show to see the list of winners.

Shantae: Half-Genie Hero for Steam

  • alexkywalker
  • Thyrennia
  • CptJohnnyWalker
  • bazoonan
  • KingVant1q
  • WindWalkR
  • NoTymeForGames
  • drswoboda
  • rogannn
  • itanshi

Shantae: Half-Genie Hero for PlayStation 4

  • munkywawa
  • Kryptica
  • Shawnsig

Shantae: Half-Genie Hero for PlayStation Vita

  • bobjones1980
  • Wonko_C
  • nosyrbllewe

Xbox One

Kyurinaga's Revenge

  • obiwankinoa
  • bubbaliam

Grim Legends: The Forsaken Bride

  • Matthewh00

Skyling: Garden Defense

  • NateTateAshton

Pixel Piracy

  • Ectotastic

Torment: Tides of Numenara

  • NarcoSleepy

Tonight's prizes provided by WayForward, XSEED, and Paul Acevedo. Thanks also to our stream moderators for keeping the peace and giving away the prizes!