Sequels can sometimes be horrible, terrible piles of shit that amount to nothing more than a cash-in by the developer and producing company. Sometimes they’re also solid gems worth the time and effort to plow through the game. The final installment of theMonster World series, Monster World IV thankfully falls into the latter category. Seeing as this saw a fairly limited release in the US (this being the first time ever and all), I never had a chance to play it until now. I’m now fully enjoying its inclusion in the SEGA Vintage Collection and I’m quite glad to see that when SEGA picks a classic title to re-release, they don’t disappoint when it counts.
Following in the footsteps of its predecessors (each game got progressively better as I played), I found myself thoroughly enjoying the fact that I did not have to relearn the entire control scheme and understand some new, cryptic method of playing the game. Instead it essentially picks up where Wonder Boy in Monster World left off. This new title did decide to switch some things up on me though – the new protagonist, Asha, seems like a pretty damn capable girl when it comes to surviving. And fighting monsters. And a hell of a lot more things than just that. Kids nowadays should take a page from her book on these sorts of things. Anyways, Asha sets out to connect with the spirits she feels and hears, ending up in Monster World where she stumbles into a quest to save the Elementals from imprisonment.
Seeing as this game is essentially a continuation of the previous titles, I didn’t expect some of the changes that I came across. It’s as if SEGA took every Monster World in succession and just built upon it piece by piece with each new title. I’m happy (make that ecstatic) to say there is no time limit like the earlier title included within the Vintage Collection. Asha moves on to the beat of her own Arabian-styled music, jumping around and plowing her way through enemies with a trusty weapon. I will say the blocking mechanic *actually* works in this title since a simple press of the D-Pad or analog stick down will bring up the shield. Can’t really say if it actually blocks anything – I still seemed to take full damage – but it was cool to see that the shield was now there for more than just appearance. Some enemies have been redone with some new abilities and attacks and Asha herself even has the ability to attack in different directions now.
One thing I didn’t necessarily realize going into this title was that the titular Monster World itself was not only a separate world, but remained the same throughout the Monster World series. So sue me. Some games, like Silent Hill, refer to the same place, but it’s a different nightmare for everybody there, and I figured it was much the same with Monster World. Instead, I’m quite wrong as characters from a previous game, Wonder Boy in Monster World, show up as primary characters within this title. It was fun to see the familiar faces once again and in a slightly updated format.
Speaking of formats, being the aging gamer I am I love the classic 8-bit and 16-bit graphics from yesteryear. Well hell, it was over two console generations ago, so I guess gamer of yester-decade would be more appropriate. Whatever. But Monster World IV fills that bit-graphics gap in my life beautifully with fun colors and even more fun sprites. While not as bright as other games in the series, it does a great job at creating a wonderful game world. What I’m mostly upset about is no inclusion of an HD version or anything, let alone an update to certain elements of the game. They didn’t even bother to change around the button mapping so when someone tells you how to do something, it’s still in the language of a SEGA Genesis controller. Come on SEGA, THAT is an easy fix. I understand the game is a literal direct port from the Genesis, but there could have been *some* cleanup beyond the addition of the challenge mode.
Yes, much like all the rest of the SEGA Vintage Collection titles, there is a challenge mode to go with this one as well. I’m kind of shocked at the lack of variety in the challenges of this title – most of the Vintage Collection titles had a pretty wide range to choose from (of a group of three mind you) that generally contained different aspects of the game.Monster World IV decided to nix that idea and make every single challenge a time trial, which is upsetting. There is the Tower of Silence Challenge and Underground Base Challenge, both of which are a simple “defeat all the monsters” type experience. There is also the Lava Cave Challenge, which is actually pretty damn fun. It’s a childhood game of “The Floor is Lava!” brought to video game life. Just watch out – if you have zero sense of timing and jumping in a platformer, you’re going to hate these, especially the last one. And possibly the game in general.
While I may consider myself “King of the Platformers,” I still manage to fall and miss jumps in this game. Beyond that and my own made up kingly vestments, Monster World IV does many things correctly and I’m glad to see it be released here in the States eighteen years later. Its aged like a fine wine and it’s a great game to go back to, especially if you’re a fan of classic platformers and side-scrollers.Note: Monster World IV was reviewed on PlayStation 3. A digital copy of the game was provided by the publisher/developer.