Wonder Boy Collection (PS4, Switch)

Back in the 80s and early 90s, Wonder Boy was a 2-D platforming series by SEGA and Westone.  It was a bit more popular in Japan than in the US, but the Wonder Boy series also has ties with Hudson’s Adventure Island games, which were a bit more popular in the States.  For the longest time Wonder Boy laid dormant, but in the past few years, we’ve gotten some remakes and updates of some of the games, like Dragon’s Trap and Monster World IV.  Not only that, we also got a full on sequel in Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom a few years ago.  And now here’s a collection of some of the Wonder Boy games for PS4 and Switch (reviewed on PS4 here).  Let’s take a look at the games on this collection!

Wonder Boy

The first game was originally in mid 80s arcades, and is a pretty straightforward 2-D platformer like Super Mario Bros.  You play as Wonder Boy, a caveboy character out to save his girl from evil.  Break open eggs to find power-ups like throwing axes or a skateboard.  You have a constantly depleting energy bar and if it runs out or you hit an enemy, you lose a life and must start back at a checkpoint.  To keep your energy full, you must constantly eat fruit that appears as you progress.  If this sounds an awfully lot like Hudson’s Adventure Island on the NES, that’s because they’re pretty much the same game.  They just changed the main character since SEGA only had the rights to the Wonder Boy character, not the game itself.  This is the arcade version on this collection, but I prefer Adventure Island more, mainly because the music isn’t as repetitive.  But I’m not a big fan of one-hit-and-you-die games, so this was never one of my favorites.

Wonder Boy in Monster Land

Even though this is an arcade game as well, it introduced a lot of staples that would make the Wonder Boy series what it was later on.  You can get gold from enemies and buy better weapons, armor, and items at shops.  But there are still stages with time limits, so you can’t explore or grind for too long.  Most of the Wonder Boy games would evolve with this game with more exploration and RPG elements, as opposed to most of the Adventure Island games which would follow moreso the gameplay of the original.

Wonder Boy in Monster World

In this one you play as adventurer and warrior Shion and since this was a console game, it leaned more heavily into the exploration and RPG elements.  You still defeat enemies in 2-D fashion and collect gold to buy better weapons and armor.  But now you can save your game at inns.  Since this one was made in the early 90s, it’s a bit slow and clunky, but still fun.  I believe you can also play this game on the SEGA Genesis Mini.

Monster World IV

They dropped the Wonder Boy from this title because here you actually play as a girl!  This 16-bit SEGA title was originally only released in Japan, but when it was first brought to the US digitally and I reviewed it, I was floored.  It was made in 1994, late in the 16-bit lifecycle when those kinds of games were starting to get really good.  I wouldn’t be surprised if the makers of Shantae were inspired by this game, since both are very similar.  They released a 3-D remake of this one last year.  Too bad that one’s not on here, but since it was recently released on its own, I guess I can understand why it’s not here.

And those are all the games.  You can also toggle how you view the games, save at any time, and rewind with the menu features.  There are some problems with this collection, though.  One is that some of the goals and objectives in these titles are a bit obtuse, but that’s just the nature of these kind of games.  But a bigger problem I had was not all the Wonder Boy games are on this collection, so it doesn’t feel complete.  Like the shooter Monster Lair isn’t on here, nor is Dragon’s Trap.  And it would’ve been really neat to have different versions of these games or other remakes and sequels like Monster Boy.  What’s even worse is that there is a collection that fixes a lot of these problems, and it’s called the Wonder Boy Anniversary Collection.  But it’s only available physically and is super limited and hard to get.  So if you can’t get that one, at least this collection is an alternative.

Kid Factor:

Wonder Boy Collection is rated E for Everyone with ESRB descriptors of Mild Fantasy Violence and Alcohol Reference.  You hit cartoony enemies with weapons and they disappear when defeated, and you just fall off the screen when you lose.  Some of the shops ask if you want beer.  Reading skill is needed for the text, and younger gamers may need help with the more difficult areas.

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