There are many classic game collections that still are fun to this day, including the Sonic Origins remasters and the Disney Afternoon Collection. However, the Wonder Boy Collection feels a bit too archaic to be fun. Fans of the series will love these ports, but I can’t see anyone else feeling the same way.
A Mixed Bag of Aged Games in the Wonder Boy Collection
There are some games that are evergreen despite their age like the Sonic and Megaman series. However, you really feel how archaic the Wonder Boy games are in today’s landscape. Jumping feels floaty and knocking back enemies over and over again with your sword is super repetitive.
The swordplay has you letting out your weapon in a short range, and you’ll have to annoyingly time your hits. You’ll likely miss one or two shots, and at points, it feels like you have to be lucky to defeat certain bosses throughout the series. Most of the combat with common foes throughout the whole series feels like a back and forth. You hit and they hit back more often than not.
The most fun that can be found in the Wonder Boy Collection is from the second title, Wonder Boy in Monster Land. It keeps up the action from the start and has some solid level design. You can buy spells like fireballs and items like bombs to take out foes with ease. The bosses are hard to handle in Monster Land with a lack of mobility options, like the other entries in the series, but there is some sense of strategy involved.
The first arcade game in the collection, Wonder Boy, is also a strong effort and acts as a precursor to the endless runners we see in mobile gaming today. It’s fun to avoid obstacles, throw axes, and use a skateboard to get across the level. The music is repetitive, but the overall bright aesthetic with rolling clouds and moving greenery is pleasant to observe. This 1986 game shows its age with its simplistic levels, but the button delay for your jumps is the best out of all four.
Wonder Boy in Monster World is pretty entertaining at first, but it shortly becomes a confusing mess. There is an item system that has you gain access to an ocarina and other useful objects. However, I have no idea how to use this instrument as the game doesn’t sufficiently explain how to start this action. When browsing the controls in the Collection itself, it doesn’t describe how to use an item.
If you are able to get the ocarina working by pressing random buttons, remembering the songs to unlock doors is just as confusing. You’ll be given the original button prompts from the Sega Genesis/Megadrive, and the developers of the port haven’t included the new console’s buttons to the UI, adding confusion. You’ll have to press random buttons until you figure out what A, B, and C are.
The last game in the Wonder Boy Collection is Monster World IV, a game that dropped the title “Wonder Boy” because the protagonist is a girl. The combat feels the best in this entry as you can slice your sword towards foes in a diagonal fashion in the air and a normal horizontal hit on the ground. The platforming is responsive, and the graphics look wonderful with a brighter color palette and side-scrolling clouds in the sky.
The problem with Monster World IV, however, is how cryptic it can be. For the hour I played the game, I had no idea how to progress and after reaching a HP restoring point, there was no way to continue going right. There’s nothing obvious in the level design that would make you try something else, so unfortunately, Monster World IV is a disappointment. We’ve found out later you need to use a crystal to open up the HP point to a new area of the game. Who knew?
The Wonder Boy Collection is a pretty good port
As a newcomer to the series, the Wonder Boy Collection is hard to get into for someone like me as they’re cryptic or feature basic combat/platforming. However, the actual port of these titles are actually pretty detailed.
In the Options menu, you can alter the following
- The Display (Fullscreen, 4:3 DAR, Perfect, Perfect 1x)
- Scaling (Soft, Crispy, and Razor)
- An optional CRT Shader Style and you can alter the Mask Type, Mask Intensity, Scanline Intensity, Sharpness, and Curvature.
- Rewind Speed (Adaptive, 1x, 2x, 3x, 4x)
- The controls which can be customized.
While the games vary in quality, the quality of the remaster is excellent and you can change the Wonder Boy Collection to your liking. I just wish the controls were better explained through a digital manual or a more thorough controls screen.
Overall, the Wonder Boy Collection is disappointing. The games don’t age well in today’s landscape, and it may be better to play the recent remakes by Lizardcube and CFK, in addition to the new game Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom, which feel more modern.
A great port overall with plenty of visual options.
The original Wonder Boy has an entertaining, yet simple concept.
The game design is perplexing for a modern audience.
You hit them, they hit back; basic combat with little strategy.
Some game mechanics aren't explained properly in this port. Buttons in the UI don't reflect current console you're playing on.
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An experienced freelance writer, Chris has a vast knowledge of the gaming medium. With a Bachelor of Communications degree, he hopes to elevate his writing further. His favorite games are Kingdom Hearts, Beyond Good & Evil, and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.