Wonder Boy in Monster World hits virtual shelves as part of the Sega Vintage Collection series as another part of Sega’s push to re-release classic titles and bring some nostalgia to today’s gaming world. The fifth game of the Wonder Boy series, it originally was released early on in the life of the Sega Genesis. Being that I grew up as a Nintendo child, I never readily dealt with Sega and the Genesis which was popular during my childhood. After playing this title, I’m sorely upset at this fact.
Shion, the hero of the story, takes it upon himself to save the land after hearing about its troubles. He dons his armor and grabs his sword, heading out on his adventure to seek fame, and fortune, and everything that goes with it (maybe). Wonder Boy in Monster World is part of the catalogue of side-scrolling adventure games, but it brings to the mix a very action-adventure feel as well that made the game that much more fun. The gameplay follows the standard side-scrolling formula – players will control Shion and make him jump around the world to cross obstacles or get around enemies. There are moving blocks to jump on, jellyfish in the water to bounce off of, and other surprises that await. Timing is very important in this game too since it’s very easy to jump too soon and fall all the way down to the beginning of the climb.
However, Shion is armed and not willing to go down without an actual fight. Players can equip him with sword and shield to grant some extra protection, a spear for longer attack reach, and other items to help defend him from the neverending monsters. Armor is also able to be swapped out for better pieces that offer a stronger defense, letting players stay alive longer in a desperate fight. Obtaining these items isn’t just a matter of smashing a block and expecting it to fall into your lap, no, instead players must take down enemies and earn coins that can be spent in-game on items and other things. Having a stockpile of coins is perhaps the most important thing in the game at times. There are a variety of shops located in the game, as well as inns and other spots. Trading in those coins can get players precious life after a night at the inn, a potion to keep their strength up, or new abilities such as magic attacks. It’s quite often that players can expect to be out farming enemies for more gold to spend on that next upgrade or ability.
Players can also expect to gain help from various allies throughout the game. They don’t always necessarily amount to much help, but they can still be a useful addition. They can be anything from a tiny fairy to even a dragon and each has their own unique attacks. They are also important half of the time since they play important roles within the story such as being kidnap victims or worse.
For a title at this age, it’s generally expected to not hold up to today’s powerhouse games and their gritty realism, but I must say I found myself actually enthralled by the game’s beauty. The Genesis version of which this port is pulled from utilized the system’s capabilities in a very pretty manner, creating a vivid environment and colorful enemies to tackle. Shion himself also looks very heroic and detailed considering the time. On an interesting note, after playing Wonder Boy in Monster Land (another Vintage Collection release), it’s also very neat to see how the game’s design progressed after the years and with the increase of a new console’s power. Many creatures and other aspects within the game remained the same, but changed drastically for the better in terms of graphics with the new title in the series.
Since the game is part of Sega Vintage Collection, it’s been re-released to include a set of challenges for players to compete in. There are three, like the other titles, and they consist of different goals. The first is the Evil King Challenge, which has players trying to defeat the boss within a set time but with infinite elixirs to keep them going. The next is Item Challenge where players must hunt down the elusive Mermaid’s Tear in a set time. The last, and possibly most difficult, is the Boss Parade, which forces players to deal with four bosses in a row without a healing item. Good luck on that last one, but successfully overcoming these challenges with a good score not only puts you at the top of the list for your friends, but on the ranked PSN leaderboards as well.
There are many older gamers that no doubt will want to come back to this title. It’s held up well over the years and even though I didn’t play the original release myself, I enjoyed this re-release immensely. It’s got the hallmarks of a solid side-scroller and action-adventure title: fun gameplay, solid story, and great visuals. It’s one of the Vintage Collection titles that I definitely recommend.Note: The Wonder Boy in Monster World review was written based on the PS3 version of the game.