Also On: Nintendo Switch
Publisher: STUDIOARTDINK/ININ Games
Way back in the Sega Master System days, there was a little game called Wonder Boy. The goal was to save your girlfriend from a tyrant by progressing through challenging side scrolling levels and reaching each goal, a simple premise that had been seen in many games from that era. The Wonder Boy series would change from the simple saving the princess plot, to more of an RPG style while still retaining it’s side scrolling elements. This style would stick around with each sequel and “Wonder Boy” set a standard for decent hack and slash RPGs.
In Japan and other parts of the world, the name “Wonder Boy” was featured less in favor of “Monster Land/World” and a few sequels were named and numbered differently in different countries (similar to how Squaresoft named The Final Fantasy series in Japan and elsewhere back in the day). One sequel that never left Japan was Monster World 4, and until recently, was relatively unknown. Today, not only has this “lost” sequel finally been released in the US, but it’s been given the complete remake treatment with “Wonder Boy: Asha In Monster World”.
Players take the role of Asha, a young girl who wants to become a warrior. She sets out to obtain a badge of courage from a monster tower to prove her bravery. Once she succeeds, she is given the task to save the world from an impending doom. The adventure is linear with very little emphasis on exploration so you really can’t get lost if you decide to search around an area. You’ll have some opportunities to upgrade your weapons and shields and buy magic items with the coins dropped by defeating enemies. The main goal is to venture to all of the areas in the Monster World, take on hoards of enemies and defeat the main bosses to rescue the captured holy spirits. While adventuring, you’ll search for treasure and gather coins to use in the shops and randomly placed vending machines.
It’s a short adventure overall, but it is very challenging and downright difficult especially in later levels. You will have to make sure you upgrade yourself with weapons and shields and stock up on healing items before jumping into an area or you will have a bad time. To help you throughout, you have a small animal friend named Pepelogoo who can help gather coins, hit out of reach switches and help you reach higher platforms. One good thing is that you can Save the game anywhere, unlike the original game where you could only save with the Old Sage that randomly appears in each area. The remake even makes a joke about the fact that he’s basically useless now, but if you talk to him he will give you words of encouragement!
Visually, the game looks brilliant. Everything from the original game has been redrawn and animated with superb attention to detail. Sometimes you can venture into the backgrounds of some areas to search items and treasure hidden behind background objects, so make sure you explore the landscapes when you are given the opportunity. Chances are if you see a treasure chest in the background, it’s not there just for show. The music and sound effects are very reminiscent of previous Wonder Boy games, with some Japanese voice overs added in some areas. All in all, the presentation is definitely a treat for the senses. Control is also tight and responsive with no major changes that usually accompany remakes like this. One thing that was added was a “Magical hit” that will deliver more damage when used. You build up energy by defeating enemies and can unleash it when the meter is full. I usually only used it for the Boss characters, as it could be a big help with those fights.
Wonder Boy: Asha In Monster World is a very nostalgic good time. The reimagined visuals only make the experience better. If you purchase the physical copy, you will have the opportunity to play the original game as it comes free as a bonus. The original game is also fully translated into English for the first time since the limited Wii Virtual Console release. This is one of the best games in the series and it’s fantastic that more gamers can now play this “lost” sequel. RPG and platformer fans will have a blast with this one, while newcomers will surely find something to enjoy as well. Definitely pick up Wonder Boy: Asha In Monster World if you can, it should not be missed.
Note: STUDIOARTDINK provided us with a Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster World PS4 code for review purposes.
The digital version of Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster World can be purchased from the Nintendo and Sony stores and is published by STUDIOARTDINK.
The boxed retail version of Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster World comes exclusively with the original Monster World IV published by ININ Games