Shantae and the Pirate's Curse is the third game in the Shantae series. After losing her genie powers in the last game, Shantae is now Scuttle Town's "guardian human," and is getting used to having her genie half gone. One day, she is approached by her arch-nemesis Risky Boots, who informs her that after her powers were stolen, they were shattered into 30 shards. The shards eventually fused with Risky's minions, the Tinkerbats, and they grew super-powerful and ambitious, overthrowing the pirate queen. They are now on a mission to resurrect Risky's old mentor, the Pirate Master, spelling doom for Sequin Land. Shantae reluctantly teams up with the lady pirate to help her regain control of her crew, as well as get her genie powers back and save Sequin Land.
The game is set on a "Metroidvania"-style map, making gameplay less linear than previous entries in the Shantae series. Because Shantae no longer has any powers, she can no longer transform via belly dances. However, she can still use her hair as a whip, and in place of her powers, pirate weapons and tools are available. This includes weapons such as a pistol, scimitar, and cannon, as well as a Pirate Hat that can be used to glide, and Risky's Boots, which allow Shantae to run at super speeds. The Nintendo 3DS version of the game features steroscopic 3D graphics in the vein of Mighty Switch Force!, and the Wii U version features HD graphics in the vein of Mighty Switch Force! Hyper Drive Edition.