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Wonder Boy Collection Review

Initial release date: June 3, 2022

Developer: Westone Bit Entertainment

Genres: Platform game, Fighting game

Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4

Publishers: United Games Entertainment GmbH, Bliss Brain

"Review Copy Provided By ININ Games"

The Wonder Boy franchise has seen a massive resurgence within the last few years with the remake of Wonder Boy in Monster Land being Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap by Lizard Cube and DotEmu which took the original game and gave it a new coat of paint while retaining the original mechanics and feel while also giving the option to switch to the original graphics on the fly. Dragon’s Trap was a phenomenal success that pushed for several more remakes in the series of the first and 4th games along with a complete spiritual successor/remake of Wonder Boy in Wonder World in Monster Boy. The Wonder Boy series has slowly started regaining the popularity that it once had with a new generation of gamers. So, what if you wanted to play the original games but didn’t want to hunt down the original carts? Well, you’re in luck as the series is now all in one place in a collection called the Wonder Boy Collection that gives you all four games in their original forms for you to experience. The question now is do these four games hold up three decades after their original releases? Let’s find out!

The Wonder Boy Collection consists of Wonder Boy, Wonder Boy in Monster Land, Wondeer Boy in Monster World, and Monster World IV. All of these games have received remakes and ports over the years and yet, never has a collection existed that gives you all 4 of these games in one package until now. While these games are playable in their original forms, they all have been given a few quality of life features like save states and the ability to rewind and fast forward which means that if you’re struggling on any particular area then you’ve got some tools to assist you and if you don’t want to sit through a ton of dialogue (although there isn’t much overall) then you can fast forward through it.

Kicking things off with the game that birthed the franchise (and created an alternate franchise with Hudson Soft in Adventure Island) Wonder Boy; this game is the most arcade of all the entries with its auto-scrolling and your need to get through levels and beat the clock which in this case is your hunger meter. You have access to an axe which you can throw to defeat enemies along with fruit you can grab that will replenish your heath meter of which you’ll want to do if you plan to make it to the end of the level. You’ll encounter obstacles from enemies to boulders and rocks as you race to get to the end of the level and fight the boss which aren’t that difficult to defeat. Given that this is a game from the early arcade era, it’s meant originally to be a quarter muncher and thus isn’t very long or complicated so don’t exect much going into this entry.

If you’re looking for more variety in gameplay then Wonder Boy in Monster Land is what you’re looking for as it is not only an action platformer but also an RPG as well. The gameplay is vastly different from the first game as you’ll be able to explore various levels (albeit its still very linear) and gain various weapons and armor and abilities to allow you to take on all the challenges you’ll face. You’ll be able to access various shops that allow you buy weapons and armor as well as health options. Defeating bosses gives you various upgrades to your sword. The game has plenty of platforming although the games slippery physics make a lot of things difficult to do and along with the high difficulty and the reliance on grinding, make this one the most difficult game in this collection.

Wonder Boy in Monster World is the most balanced and most fun game out of the 4 games as it is not only a non-linear RPG but has the most pick up and play controls out of all the games. The controls are incredibly fluid with the best physics in the game and the most fair challenge when it comes to fighting enemies and bosses with little to no grinding needed to get more coins and gear.

The last game is Monster World IV which drops the Wonder Boy title since it follows a new character in Asha as she heeds the call of spirits that guide her to the city of Rapadagna. Monster World IV is similar in many ways to Wonder Boy in Monster World although it has a difference in that when you get new weapons and upgrades; they are automatically equipped and as you progress through the story you can come to a point where you can soft lock yourself out of completing the game if you don’t have enough coins to buy a certain armor if you spend too much of your money too early. Control wise, you have your standard attack complete with an upward and downward stab, jump and double jump, and a nice variety of abilities that you gain as you complete various dungeons and explore the central hub of Rapadagna. This game is much easier than Wonder Boy in Monster World and is in my opinion the second best game in this collection and series.

So, is the Wonder Boy Collection worth it? I would say if you are looking for some solid gaming then 2 of the included 4 games will scratch that itch and have you coming back time and again with Wonder Boy in Monster World and Monster World IV which both have better versions in their remakes while the first 2 games are only worth playing if you are curious about the series origins and like old school arcade games. There isn’t a lot of extras especially when compared to other games like the rereleases of the Cotton games so unless you’re fine with 4 solid ports with some QoL features added then you may not find much value in this collection. For all others, the Wonder Boy Collection is a fine collection of one of Sega’s greatest franchises and is hopefully a vehicle for a new entry in the series down the road.

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