Wonder Boy Anniversary Collection review for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation

Platform: Nintendo Switch
Also On: PS4, PS5
Publisher: ININ Games
Developer: Bliss Brain
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No
ESRB: E10+

A few months ago, I reviewed The Wonder Boy Collection for Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4. While it was nice having Wonder Boy games bundled together, the collection itself was missing a few key titles, as well as several versions of games that were included. Now the Anniversary Collection is here and it features all of the missing titles and variants that made the previous collection lackluster.

There are, however, a few minor issues that need to be addressed.

The original collection only contained 4 Wonder Boy titles. The Arcade versions of Wonder Boy and Wonder Boy in Monster Land. Wonder Boy in Monster World and Monster World IV. Missing were Wonder Boy 3: The Dragons Trap, and the seldom seen “Monster Lair” Games. I can happily say that these key titles are now present, making this collection more complete. Also, many different versions of these game are also included, such as the Sega Master System versions of the original game and Monster Land. It doesn’t stop there however, as we now have Japanese versions of every title, plus all of the Sega Game Gear titles in the series, which were scaled down versions of the originals. This brings the total number of titles included to 21 which is a giant leap from the 4 titles in the previous release. All of the games included seem to be on par with the original game ROMs, and play exactly like you remember, nothing has been changed from the original gameplay except the controls, which we’ll get into later.

This collection is filled with awesome gallery items, such as full scans of the instruction manuals for the console games. While some of these scans were present in the original collection, it makes more sense to have them included here, since the actual games they represent are now included. I found it so frustrating that I had Master System Instruction book scans and artwork in the last gallery but the actual games were not included. Along with a more complete gallery, we now have more options for display, pixel and TV filters as well as screen borders. The TV filters look a bit better this time around, as does the Scanline intensity making things look less darkened. Pixel smoothing and sharpening are OK, but not something I particularly like. I spent a few minutes playing around with these options and while they may be appealing to some, I found just playing with the standard visuals was best for me.

Now, we have to address the changes to the controls. The Sega Master System had a controller with only 2 face buttons and these games made use of this by mapping more than one action to one button. So, in the original Wonder Boy, Button 1 fired your weapon and Button 2 jumped. Holding down Button 1 made you Run and pressing Button 2 while running performed a high jump. This collection has changed this, by giving you a dedicated button for High Jump and another dedicated button for running. So, the original game that functioned perfectly with only 2 buttons now has 4, with no way to change the controls to match the original style. You can change what each button does in the options, but you cannot have the weapon and run Buttons be the same. I am way more accustomed to the original style and not having that option was very disappointing.

The Arcade games also seemed to demonstrate some issues with the high jump button not functioning at all on some stages and the regular jump button just automatically high jumping when pressed. Thankfully, I experienced no such control issues with the Genesis/Mega Drive or the Game Gear titles. While these issues/changes to the control do very little to hinder the overall experience of the games, they do take a little getting used to and can lead to some cheap deaths.

Wonder Boy Anniversary Collection is a far better release that the original Collection. The amount of games and extra editions help to make this the definitive Wonder Boy Collection. The minor control issues and changes are a bit disappointing, but a few patches could be applied to fix these. It does retain the original collections very bland presentation and menu system, so it tends to feel more like a DLC add-on than a whole new collection. However it’s a vast improvement over the previous one. If you own the original release, you owe it to yourself to delete that one and pick this one up. If you skipped the first one, then this is the one that you need to get. This is one of the most complete collections of a single game series I have seen, and even with it’s minor flaws, I can highly recommend this for your library!

Note: ININ Games provided us with a Wonder Boy Anniversary Collection Switch code for review purposes.

Grade: B+