Now with 100% much less boy

Wonder Boy is a little bit of a beautiful mess. The sequence by no means appears to stay to 1 fashion, developer, or nomenclature. Here we’ve got a remake of Monster World IV, which is a sequel to Wonder Boy in Monster World, or, because it’s recognized in Japan — and I’m not kidding right here — Wonder Boy V: Monster Land III.

Recently, we’ve acquired a little bit of a revival not too long ago: Wonder Boy Returns, an improve of the unique, developed by CFK; Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap, a remake of Wonder Boy III: The Dragon’s Trap (to not be confused with Wonder Boy III: Monster Lair) by Lizardcube; Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom, a very new entry by Game Atelier; and this title, Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster World, which is perplexing, as a result of boy isn’t even in it.

Confused? Perfect. That’s how I such as you.

Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster World (PC, Switch, PS4[Reviewed])
Developer: Studio Artdink
Publisher: Inin (Boxed Version with unique Monster World IV) | Studio Artdink (Digital)
Released: May 28th, 2021 (Switch, PS4) June 29th, 2021 (PC)
MSRP: $34.99

Originally launched in 1994 completely in Japan for the Sega Mega Drive (Genesis), Monster World IV was yet one more departure for the sequence. The previous-ish title, Wonder Boy III: The Dragon’s Trap was a kind of explore-’em-up title with a number of monster transformations and energy. Monster World IV isn’t that.

Here we’ve got Asha, who simply decides she’s going to be a warrior and goes out to try this. No sooner is she bestowed the title of warrior by the queen, she’s despatched out to save lots of 4 guardians from 4 dungeons to save lots of the world. Listen, this was the 16-bit period, we didn’t want rather more to go on than, “There’s darkness, go get it.”

There are not any transformations right here, the world isn’t interconnected. Instead, you get an cute critter known as a Pepelogoo that may enable you do issues like double-jump and block fireplace. It’s a good mechanic and has the most important impression on the plot, which is an efficient factor, as a result of that’s the one factor particular about this recreation.

I had by no means performed Monster World IV earlier than this launch, although it has crossed the ocean in English on the Virtual Console, 360/PS3, and on the Genesis Mini. I wasn’t solely positive what to anticipate, however I’ve performed a variety of the opposite Wonder Boy titles, and this one stars a cute lady, so I used to be on board.

Initially, I used to be awestruck by how bland it’s. Visually, it’s a deal with; colourful, cute, well-animated. The music is respectable. Not one thing I’d placed on my playlist, however an pleasing addition to the aesthetic. Plenty of quality-of-life enhancements have been made throughout the board, similar to a redesigned metropolis of Rapadagna, the flexibility to hold a number of elixirs, and a extra highly effective assault that may be charged up.

Where it hasn’t been touched is in the dungeon design, and that’s the place the sport hurts probably the most. The dungeons are uninteresting, lengthy, and repetitive. Each one has its personal gimmicks — as is legislation in video video games — however largely they’re only a bunch of corridors the place you smack at enemies and decide up the cash that burst out. It’s a wierd day once I discover how bland the backgrounds are in a side-scroller, however right here I couldn’t assist however take a look at repeating patterns and despair.

What hurts probably the most is how little it does to mitigate backtracking, generally permitting you to plumb additional earlier than alerting you to the truth that you might want to fill your bucket on the identical supply for a 3rd time. Some video games can get away with this, however when the environments are so boring and the enemies don’t respawn, it may well turn into drudgery.

The recreation’s bosses are numerous, however unified in the truth that they’re disappointing. Most may be defeated by simply whacking at them, others have easy and apparent patterns, and a few make it tough to search out the place they are often hit. They fluctuate considerably in issue. The one which I had probably the most issues with was only a sub-boss. The last boss deserves particular point out as a result of it was a severe, “wait, that can’t be it,” second. The reply was sure it was, and I’m nonetheless reeling from it. It’s like if Dr. Wily simply got here out in his lab coat, and his weak spot was all the things.

I get that that is based mostly off a Genesis title, and I additionally perceive that Inin didn’t need to deviate an excessive amount of from the supply materials, however take a look at it this fashion: Lizardcube had little or no background to work off of for Wonder Boy and the Dragon’s Trap and so they painted a masterpiece on that clean canvas.

I can’t be too arduous on the builders, although. Part of the issue is that Monster World IV simply wasn’t that nice of a recreation to start with. It seems like a step again from different titles, providing a cute little Pepelogoo as a substitute of considerate design. The high quality of life enhancements are appreciated, however I really feel like they might have at the very least touched up the bosses slightly extra with out betraying the sport’s identification.

I additionally need to stress that Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster World isn’t a nasty recreation. Some of the backtracking bought annoying, however principally it’s simply monotonous. The mechanics are tight sufficient, I simply can’t assist however shrug on the last product. I’m at all times glad when an outdated title is given new life, however that doesn’t imply I’m going to finish up loving it.

[This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]


Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster World reviewed by Zoey Handley



An train in apathy, neither stable nor liquid. Not precisely dangerous, however not superb both. Just a bit “meh,” actually.
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