SEGA Vintage Collection: Monster World IV (PSN)

There’s a classic series of 8- and 16-bit games in Japan that probably not very many people in the US know about called Wonder Boy. There were tons of sequels and spin-offs, and the Wonder Boy titles even have some connection with Hudson’s Adventure Island games. But I won’t go into that here. One of the Wonder Boy spin-offs was called Monster World and the fourth and final entry in that series came out in 1994 on SEGA’s 16-bit console in Japan, but was never brought over to the US. Until now. Finally, US gamers can enjoy this fantastic action-adventure 2-D platformer, downloadable on PSN, 360, and Wii (PSN version reviewed here).

In Monster World IV, play as Asha, a young green-haired lady and the first female lead in the Wonder Boy series. Asha aspires to be a warrior and will end up saving Monster World in the process. The game is a 2-D action-adventure platformer. Asha jumps, swings her sword to attack enemies, and explores the world to find hidden treasures and goodies to help her along the way. The game has a few RPG-like elements to it, as you collect money to buy better armor and weapons, and use collectible items to help you in your quest. Early in the game, Asha befriends a Pokemon-like critter who follows you wherever you go. This little guy can help Asha hit hard to reach switches when you throw him, as well as allow Asha to double jump and glide when you carry him. Monster World IV plays a lot like the cult classic Shantae game series (on Game Boy and DSiWare), and it makes me wonder if WayForward (makers of Shantae) was inspired by Monster World IV.

Monster World IV has some problems, but they are few and far between. And they really only stem from the fact that this is an older title, and it shares a lot of the same quibbles as other classics. The game can be a bit difficult and obtuse at times, and goals aren’t as clear and apparent as they are in today’s games. Plus, the adventure doesn’t have as many save points as what I’d like to see. There are long stretches of platforming before you can even save your progress. But that’s just how games were back then, and I’m not as patient now as I was in those days.

The nice thing about Monster World IV on PSN is that SEGA didn’t just slap the game up for download. It comes with a menu screen with all sorts of options and goodies. Play the original Japanese version of the game, change screen size and other options, read the manual, listen to the game’s music, challenge a trial mode to upload your score to a leaderboard, and not to mention new trophies to earn. Only problem I had with the menu is that when mapping your controls, they show you which button corresponds to the ones on the Genesis controller, but it doesn’t tell you what the buttons DO. So I had to wrestle with that for a bit before starting the game.

Monster World IV is also downloadable on 360, and it’s actually a better deal because it comes with two other games in the Monster World series (you have to buy them separately on PSN). And they’re also available separately on Wii’s Virtual Console. So no matter what game system you own, there’s no excuse for you to not download Monster World IV. I don’t know what it is about 16-bit adventure games and why and how they captivate me so. But they do and Monster World IV is a prime example of the kinds of games I liked to play back then. Fantastic game and thanks to SEGA for finally releasing it here!

Kid Factor:

Monster World IV is rated E for Everyone with an ESRB descriptor of Mild Cartoon Violence. Asha swings her sword at silly looking monsters who disappear when defeated, and that’s about as violent as it gets. Reading skill is helpful, and some young gamers might get frustrated at the game’s difficulty. But it’s still an easy to understand game that I’d definitely let any kid try.

7 Responses to “SEGA Vintage Collection: Monster World IV (PSN)”

  1. Cary, have you ever played Shantae: Risky’s revenge? That’s what Monster-land IV reminds me of a little. I actually like the subtle Arabian Nights theme they got going. It’s neat there are rpg elements mixed with the platforming as well!

  2. Yes, I’ve played both Shantae games. I even mentioned them in my review.

  3. Sorry man, in my excitement I just had to mention Shantae again. lol. Asha and Shantae could be sisters!

    I also like the idea of a central town hub where you can go to any of the 4 outer-lands.

    Asha’s pogo-sword attack reminds me of Scrooge McDuck’s cane move in the Duck-tales nes game too.

  4. Looks great! Can’t wait to download this on the VC 🙂

  5. Yeah, Wii, PSN, or 360, Monster World IV is great on any console. I’ve been totally hooked on it.

  6. Wow, Cary! I just read this review on my phone because I was looking for info on whether this came in a collection for PSN as it does for XBLA. I didn’t realize you’d written it until I saw the first commenter use your name!

    Lately, I’ve been following Giant Bomb for gaming info, but their “Quicklook” didn’t give accurate info about the availability format. Sometimes their devil-may-care attitude about pricing and other “five w’s” of games is annoying because they don’t Place
    Much emphasis on getting it all straight. I’m glad I got to hear it from you!

    Also, have you played WB 1? We looked it up on emulation and I so loved the sprites for
    It! Those jackal men enemies strike me as so funny!

  7. Hey J.B. Wow, I can’t believe how many people read this review!

    Yeah, on PS3 you have to buy the games separately, but they do have the nice menus and extras. And Monster World IV is worth buying by itself, it’s that good. The 360 has it in a collection with Monster World 2 and 3 (I think). The Wii version is just the game only, like other titles on their VC service.

    I didn’t include details on pricing because that sort of thing always changes depending on sales, specials, etc. But on PSN, MW4 is $4.99, on 360 the collection is 800 MS points, and I’m not sure what it is on Wii VC, but most other Genesis titles are 800 Wii points as well.

    I haven’t played much of the original Wonder Boy, but it is pretty much the same game as Adventure Island, and I’ve played a lot of that one! –Cary

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