Wonder Boy in Monster Land
Review by Tidus9rules
Wonder boy was to the Sega Master System, what Mario was to NES. The master system, while often almost twice as good as the NES at producing graphics, almost always failed in gameplay. The first Wonder boy was the exception. Gamers got their moneys worth and more. I'll never forget the day I went to my best friends house to play Wonder boy 2 only to be somewhat knocked off my feet. It was the time of the odd sequels. Mario 2, Castlevania 2, Zelda 2, etc. All strangely so much different then the games that inspired them. Nothing strange for us game players back then though. In the 80's everything in video games was always changing and usually for the better. But Wonder boy 2 was way off. This new adventure was the result of a copyright fight and numerous other incidents over at the Sega house. Gone was the great gameplay, the cool grass skirt and the almost prehistoric feel of the original. In short it replaced the theme and genre, but left in the main character.
Now we were forced to fiddle around with Tom Tom in a clumsy knight suit. Now forced to look for hidden doors and other secrets, knowing that if we missed one, we might as well hit the reset. We knew full well we were screwed if something knocked us away from that ever so important sword, armor etc. Not that Tom Tom could handle one. You were more likely to hit yourself then your target half the time. You had to be about a pixel apart from a creature to hit it and of course that meant being in real danger of getting hit yourself.
To add even more insult to injury we had to deal with always having one stinking life besides the one we were using. Oh how wondrous it was to pass an item shop that sold potions, but couldn't buy one because we already had one, then to get our butts kicked two screens later by the little timer that slowly inched away your life. Heaven for fend they could have added a continue. I mean this is an action RPG! Even the first Wonder boy had a level select......
You also had to have no life to play the game due to one little feature; If left on pause for too long, the game would reset itself. Imagine my horror one day after coming home from shopping with my buds, to find that the game I left on level 7 had restarted sometime after I left. This was even worse then the obligation Rygar made you abide by. And again, at least that action RPG had a CONTINUE!
Even if you did get to the end, you had to figure out that last castle (which was as bad as a Metroid stage) in an awful hurry, or you'de lose hearts for taking too long. I won't even get started on the last boss which, combined with the timer problem and the fact that you have to jump while smacking him, knowing full well Wonder boy can't aim for beans, makes him one of the cheesiest bosses in video game history.
The upside of the game was of course the cool enemies and characters you encountered along the way. The graphics were gorgeous. The world was interesting to run around in and the music, while nothing special was nicely done. The only characters to return from Wonder Boy were the Octopuses and the snakes. Both with new designs and abilities. The bosses were huge and Medusa was a spectacle indeed. (Provided you could find her...) Wonder Boys death animation has to be one of the cutest and funniest of the mid to late 80's as well. Second best to Desert Falcons.
Like so many Master System games one can see how this would have been an instant classic with a little tweaking. And in truth it will always have a little place in my heart. But Wonder boy 2 and the rest of the Monster series never took off, or reached the levels of greatness that Adventure Island did. (And because there were no officials around to explain to us the ignorant youth of the 80s why Harry Hudson was in it instead of Wonder boy that series felt to many of us like a rip off for years.) Sure the Monster series spawned a bunch of games, but 3 looks and sounds like the low budget video game equivalent of a TV movie. Part 4 was generally ignored and the final game in the series was never even translated into English.
It's always saddened me that the cute blonde I used to run around with as a kid ended up this way and we all were stuck with a lard butt in white 'Hudson' hat to do our future island princess saving.
Reviewer's Score: 4/10 | Originally Posted: 07/14/02, Updated 07/14/02
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