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Elliot - Pie

Wonder Boy in Monster World Review - Pie Reviews

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Wonder Boy in Monster World is one of the new batch of titles released on the PSN by Sega under the "Sega Vintage Collection" banner. This latest batch is quite different from the previous one which contained the very well-known, console-defining action games like Sonic, Golden Axe and Streets of Rage, consisting this time of mainly action-RPG titles. It's still a shame they never released Sonic 3 & Knuckles before they switched their focus, but that's a whole other kettle of fish as well as a personal vendetta of mine. The point remains, however, that Sega have been choosing the titles they're releasing very well, as all of them so far have stood the test of time. Does this still ring true for Wonder Boy in Monster World?

The game plays like most in the Metroidvania genre - there's a connected world to explore, more of which opens up the further you progress and the more powers you unlock, and you'll often have to come back to areas you find earlier when you're better equipped to deal with them. It feels to me like it's Sega's answer to Metroid itself, before the "vania" part of the genre title was cemented by Symphony of the Night. The fantasy setting and cast of characters with whom you can converse helps to differentiate the two though, and WBiMW has plenty of charm and character of its own.

The variety of landscapes and environments is pretty good, though it does make you scratch your head as to why all these weirdly disparate terrains are so close to each other. The enemy designs are quite odd (especially the dark-skinned tribespeople that are depicted trying to cook and eat a child at one point - oh, Japan, you're so racist) but mostly very creative and colourful, especially the boss fights, which are always a lot of fun to play through. Of course, being very much a product of its time, it decided to completely jump the shark at the end of the game where

the final showdown against the evil alien boss takes place... IN SPAAAAAAAAAAAAACE!

It's wonderfully campy and I did laugh at loud with a completely puzzled look on my face. The story doesn't really make much sense, but it doesn't matter in all honesty, it's just an excuse to get you out questing to save the world, though if you're looking for retro RPGs that do have engaging storylines, this isn't your best bet (though several Phantasy Star games are included in the Sega Mega Drive Ultimate Collection if that's your thing).

You'll spend the majority of your time in the game fighting monsters, exploring to find new spells and items and buying new equipment to make your fight to vanquish evil easier. Despite the game being designed for only 3 buttons, the combat system is still pretty skill based, with decent timing being required to make your hits connect, and some fun spells to help out against tougher enemies. The platforming is also decent but it's not really what the game is built around, so don't expect a great platformer going in. The game is, for the most part, not that challenging, so long as you make sure that you've always got the best equipment and a large stockpile of spells at your disposal by hunting everything down (which is mercifully not that esoteric, though there are definitely a few Guide Dang It moments like the part that requires you to jump into a usually deadly pit of lava to find a collectable), though it does have its moments at the end - you'll certainly be thankful that the game includes savestates at least once if you play the game the whole way through. If you refuse to use a guide, you'll miss things and then things might be a little trickier for you, so if you're up for a challenge, then avoid the health boosts and the game will put up a good fight.

Of course the game isn't going to be as good to look at as games that were developed within the last 20 years (yeah, this was made 21 years ago - don't you feel like an old man now?), but with the pretty decent texture filtering option and the ability to scale the game up by custom amounts (tip: only ever scale things by whole values else they will look awful - best to go for 200% scaling here in my opinion) you'll get a bright, colourful, charmingly nostalgic series of images flickering on your display. The music is quite uneven in my opinion - it has some good old-school music in places and at other times I found it grating and muted it in preference to Impostor Nostalgia which goes well with any retro game.

Expect to put in a good eight to ten hours if you want to see everything the game has to offer, as despite the world being not the biggest ever seen in a game, there's enough exploration and challenge to keep you busy for a whole day. I doubt you'll find much joy in playing the game through a second time, but for the asking price, it's not such a bad deal to only play through it once and then forget about it.

Since the last batch of SVC titles, the interface has been completely redone and whilst I don't think it's nearly as nice stylistically (as well as having the word "Genesis" plastered everywhere, even on the UK release) it has a lot more functionality than the previous emulation front-end. Here, you can choose from three versions of the game - EU, US and Japan, there are much more graphical options for screen stretch, there are several backgrounds for the screen space not filled by the game, etc. You can now save replays from in-game that will display the button commands used when played back, which could be useful for making guides or brag videos, etc. There's a trial mode where you can compete for the fastest times on certain challenges complete with online leaderboards and best of all there's a jukebox, very much like the one in the NeoGeo range on PS3, which will not only play you the sounds from in-game but show you which channels of the Mega Drive's sound chip are being used and when, which is really cool. It's obvious to me that this is why there was a substantial delay between the last batch and the current one, and it seems to have been worth the wait.

So, all in all, if you're hankering for some retro action RPGing, then you can't really go wrong with this. There's a lot to like about it and it's quite cheap, so I don't really have much reservations in recommending this to that crowd. If you're not familiar with the Mega Drive (or Genesis if you live in North America) or retro gaming in general, then I wouldn't really say that this was a good introduction to the console or to retro gaming in general - I'd likely point to something like Sonic or Streets of Rage for that purpose long before I'd tell you to check this game out. The game fits its niche well, but I don't see it having much appeal to those outside that target audience, so if you're not a fan of the old-school, then it's safe to give this one a skip.

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the game is awesome... nuff said but i did like golden axe and streets of rage 2 better

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I would argue that its kind of difficult to compare this game to those, Tenchu. I mean, this game is a 2d side scroller, like those, yes; but this game is more like an RPG, as opposed to a beat-em-up or an arcade fighter.

 

Still, I had fun playing all 3 of the games that have been mentioned :D

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I would argue that its kind of difficult to compare this game to those, Tenchu. I mean, this game is a 2d side scroller, like those, yes; but this game is more like an RPG, as opposed to a beat-em-up or an arcade fighter.

 

Still, I had fun playing all 3 of the games that have been mentioned :D

yeah im just saying i liked sor2 and golden axe more  but wonder boy is hands down more difficult

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