Monday 13 June 2022

Wonder Boy Collection Review (Switch)

ININ games are well versed now in the release of retro compilations. We’ve had Space Invaders, Darius, Turrican and now Wonder Boy gets the treatment. As before, this collection comes in two forms. You can go the Strickly Limited physical route and get a pretty comprehensive collection which includes more games and multiple versions of each, or this one which is far stingier in its content.

The standard Wonder Boy Collection contains four games. You get the arcade versions of the original Wonder Boy and Wonder Boy in Monster Land and the Genesis versions of Wonder Boy in Monster World and Monster World IV. The biggest and most obvious omission is Wonder Boy III: The Dragons Trap, but it is available as a separate release. Monster World IV is also available elsewhere with a recent remake, the physical version for which also includes the Genesis version and of course you can get the two arcade games as arcade releases as well. Confused? We won’t mention Monster Boy in the Cursed Kingdom or the fact the two Genesis titles were originally going to be on the Switch Mega Drive collection then.

The four games come with the usual selection of extras now expected as standard with these types of collections. That means save states, display options and the ability to remap controls. There’s also a rewind function. There’s gallery content which is a bit weird as it’s full of box art and instructions for versions of games not included but it’s nice to have.

In terms of the games themselves they hold up well. The first Wonder Boy is very different to the rest of course. Here you simply run along a route trying to avoid obstacles and throwing things to hit enemies. It’s a classic arcade style game and lacks much depth. It’s unlikely you’ll spend much time with it as it was never a massively great game in the first place.

Wonder Boy in Monster Land is where the series starts to really take shape. Despite being an arcade game it’s an adventure platformer where you can pick up armour and spells as you make your way through linear platform levels with explorations elements. It’s a really strange choice for an arcade game and the timer element seems forced but it’s great fun. Sadly, if you want the home Master System version, you’ll need to buy the more deluxe collection.

Monster World and Monster World IV see the series move to fully fledged console game adventure platformers. Both are good and will keep you occupied for a fair while. The only real complaint is that the reach of your sword is so tiny that combat can be frustrating at times. But there’s a lot to explore and find and there is enough inventiveness on show to set them aside from the Metroid’s and 2D Zelda games of the world.  

The biggest issue is who will buy this. It’s considerably cheaper than the deluxe version of course but it relies on people not having bought the three already available games or just really wanting to get hold of Wonder Boy in Monster World. The fact Wonder Boy III isn’t here is also a big issue. That said, if you have avoided all the previous releases and don’t want to go for the deluxe version then what’s here is good and provides a shot of quality retro fun for a near budget price.

Overall 7/10

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