Saturday, June 6, 2015

Spotlight: Wonder Boy in Monster World

Haven't done a Spotlight feature in a while, so here we go! This one is going to be about one of my top five favorite games of all time (which could probably be a future article, now that I think about it) Wonder Boy in Monster World for the Sega Genesis. Colorful screenshots and gushing await, so read on!

Princess Purapril greets Shion
My History

It's hard for me to say how I discovered Wonder Boy in Monster World. I don't believe I saw it in a magazine before I got it. I suppose if it wasn't just a completely blind buy it might have been advertised on the back of a Genesis game manual.

I picked it up at Toys "R" Us when I was in either 5th or 6th grade. After I got it home and started playing it, I was immediately captivated by the colorful cartoon style graphics and music.

This game is also one of the only times I ever had to have my dad help me solve a puzzle. Near the beginning of the game you have to use an ocarina to open a series of doors by playing a tune. You can ask a villager in the town right before that part what the tunes are, but I didn't know that. Instead, my dad figured it out by trial and error, figuring out all three doors by pushing buttons randomly until he got the tunes down. I still remember them to this day. "You play beautifully."

On the playground, there was debate on whether or not this game was a ripoff of The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. A friend of mine claimed it was, and I said it wasn't the same at all. He brought up the ocarina (not in reference to Ocarina of Time, but to the flute), the colored orbs you strike with your sword, the mermen enemies resembling Zoras, and the fact that the prince in the game is the prince of DarkWorld.

Shion in Alsedo, the fairy village
I played this in a time before the internet. Every secret I found in the game was found by me with no outside help, and that left me with a huge sense of accomplishment when I finally finished the game with every heart and every item. I would eventually find even more secrets in the way of hidden doors, which also left me feeling pretty proud of myself.

I would play outside like I was in Monster World. I had a club in the woods at my grandparents' house I called Sundry after a shop in the game. I had a plastic gem I called a Charmstone after a mysterious item in the game. I had a knife I called Gradius after the weapon you start your adventure with. Wonder Boy in Monster World had quickly become one of my favorite games I had ever played and it continues to hold that title even 23 years later. I feel it's a true masterpiece and it's definitely a hidden gem in the Genesis library. This game isn't mentioned enough and I really feel like even back when it was new it was overlooked in favor of Genesis staples like Sonic the Hedgehog and the Phantasy Star games.

They're going to eat him!
About the Game

Wonder Boy in Monster World is the fifth Wonder Boy game but the third Monster World game, so in Japan the title of the game is Wonder Boy V: Monster World III. Confusing, right? It was developed by the company Westone and published by Sega in 1991, but was released in America in 1992.

It has been released on several different consoles including the Master System and the Turbo Duo. It is available for download on the Wii, the PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360 shop services as well. In the case of the Turbo Duo version, it was reskinned as The Dynastic Hero and replaced a lot of the graphics with insects, including the main character himself. This version is available for download on the Wii Virtual Console and is worth trying if not just to see the differences, but I wouldn't recommend it over the Genesis version.

You play the game as Shion, a young man who lives in Monster World, which was at one time a peaceful place until an army of monsters invaded it. The source of the invasion is a frightening monster from outer space called BioMeka. Destroying him is the only way to stop the monsters from attacking, so Shion will have to ascend to the stars in order to deliver the death blow to this formidable foe.

Additional Level Screenshots

About the Worlds

Each world in Wonder Boy in Monster World features a very distinct atmosphere. None of the worlds look similar in the least, and each one is a vibrant and colorful spectacle that will keep you entertained as you traverse their landscape. Areas in Monster World include:

  1. A tropical paradise with a look and feel reminiscent of Adventure Island, which is probably no coincidence.
  2. A dangerous jungle with boiling sludge and spiders which drop unexpectedly from the jungle canopy. Within it are ruins and the peaceful dwarf tribe.
  3. A deep blue ocean full of hazards such as territorial mermen and giant crabs. Home of Poseidon and a vast sunken city.
  4. A desert so hot that you need special boots just to walk through it. An ominous pyramid looms in the distance, which is your destination.
  5. Rugged mountain terrain with stray rolling boulders and some spear throwing goblins. At the top of the mountain lies a town full of dragons.
  6. A slippery ice world where the northern lights shine brightly in the sky. An ice castle full of powerful enemies waits at the end of this world.

The Myconid

Gragg & Glagg

The Sphinx

The Ice Bomber

The Tyrant Dragon

The Almighty Demon King


The Music

This game definitely has an amazing soundtrack. It's one of the best ones I can think of on the Genesis. The tunes in each world are very memorable and there are very few repeats of songs throughout the game. It's one of those games where you hear the music and think, "This sounds like music that belongs in a water level." or "This music makes me think of an ice level." There isn't a single bad track in the game.

Wonder Boy in Monster World Title Screen
Final Thoughts

Like I said in the opening, this is one of my top five favorite games of all time. It's a game that I revisit at least once a year. It's short enough that it can be gone through in one or two sittings if you know what you're doing, but if you're going in blind, expect it to take up quite a bit of your time.

It's not overly difficult (until the final boss fight, at least) so the frustration is kept to a minimum. The bosses are all colorful, interesting, and unique. The overall package is just very charming.

I have also always found it nice that when you equip a new weapon or shield on Shion it changes his appearance in the game. That was something which wasn't that common back then, so it has always stood out to me. The boots increasing your walking speed is also a nice addition.

This is a game that is not to be missed. If you haven't played it already, I highly suggest you do so. It's readily available right now for you to download on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. The Xbox 360 version even includes two other games, so you can't go wrong!

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