Inin Games brings Wonder Boy Collection to Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4.
The Wonder Boy franchise has been around for over 30 years. Aside from the original arcade game, it’s not very well known outside of Japan. In fact, some of the games were not even released in English.
This is the original game in the franchise. It was a staple of arcades in the mid-1980s. Unlike its sequels, this was a straight-up platformer – and an extremely challenging one at that. Actually, it’s fair to say that this game was unfair as there are multiple spots in the game that I would describe as quarter sinks. These are parts of the game where you would sink a pocket of quarters trying to get past.
A challenge is fine, but the rewind function in this console port makes it obvious that there are platforms where Tom-Tom just falls through when he should have landed. Instead he literally goes through the platforms. So if you played this in the arcade and thought it was cheating you… well, it does.
The basic idea here is a side-scrolling platformer where the protaganist known as Tom-Tom tries to rescue his girlfriend. You’ll run through levels, avoiding hazards like fire and taking out dastardly snails (yes, really). But like I said, there are parts where the gaps are such that unless you land sufficiently clear of a ledge you often fall through platforms.
The new rewind feature makes playing this game tolerable – and it is actually quite a bit of fun when it is not busy trying to force you to feed the machine quarters.
Wonder Boy in Monster Land
While I have played the original Wonder Boy and its NES adaptation Adventure Island, the rest of the franchise is foreign to me. So it was neat to try parts of gaming history that most people living in the West never got a chance to experience.
Wonder Boy in Monster Land is another arcade game. It largely ditches the strictly side-scrolling platformer vibes of the original in favor of an action-adventure game with simple role-playing mechanics. It vaguely resembles something like Zelda II: The Adventure of Link without that game’s overworld.
Once again, you control Tom-Tom. Actually, despite the vastly different gameplay, the story picks up years after the original game. Your goal is to destroy the monster in Monster Land, but they do not make it particularly easy for you as you start with no weapons. The mayor gives you a sword and a potion, but you will need to buy other items from the shop using coins that you collect from monsters.
This game has a good variety of gameplay, environments, and enemies (including boss fights). Even though I personally prefer the original game, this new direction is definitely a unique take on an action-adventure with light RPG elements.
Wonder Boy in Monster World
This game continued the franchise’s turn in the direction of an action RPG. You can buy and equip items like shields, weapons, and potions. You also collect coins from fallen enemies. Save your game in the inn where you also heal.
Since this is a Sega Genesis game, the graphics in Wonder Boy in Monster World are considerably better than the previous entries. Gameplay-wise, it also feels a lot more modern. It’s comparable to a retro-inspired indie game today whereas Monster Land is a little too rough around the edges for my liking.
Monster World IV
The final game in the classic series ditched the Wonder Boy name for Monster World IV. That’s because the main protagonist is a female character named Asha. The game was originally released only in Japan, although fans translated the text to English in the early 2000s. This is perhaps my favorite of the games in the collection.
Continuing the trend within the franchise, Monster World IV is a mix of action-adventure, platforming, and role-playing game. The graphics look fantastic and the game feels more fleshed out. It’s a shame that this did not get released in the West until 2012 when it came to the Wii Virtual Console, PlayStation Network for PS3, and Xbox Live Arcade for Xbox 360.
Wonder Boy Collection is a surprisingly decent collection of classic games from a franchise that most people in the West probably have not played. It is missing Wonder Boy III: Monster Lair and Wonder Boy III: The Dragon’s Trap, but there’s enough variety here to keep you entertained for a while.
It also features several quality of life improvements that are welcome. These include the ability to rewind fast-forward, and a save at any time with save states. The boxed version is perfect for collectors.
Game Freaks 365 received a free review copy.