Thursday, 7 May 2015

Wonderboy in Monsterland - Arcade


Don't you just love when resolutions don't quite work


The original Wonderboy was a rather interesting little platformer that took the Mario approach, slapped in some graphics and sped up the fluidity of the gameplay. This outing of Wonderboy however has taken the adventure approach from platforming and put a lot more emphasis on combat, a pseudo RPG element to the game and thrown in a little exploration with it too.

Kill Dragon, Restore Peace. Nothing about political balance or economies.

You start off as Dicky McNoRealSignificance and before you can say "First Screen Away" you're talking to a fortune teller that lets you know that you're the last hope for the world and must go kill a dragon, and with that, gives you a sword and sends you on your merry way. What you're not told is that you'll have to fight, kill and find a hell of a lot of gold if you want to stand a ghost of a chance at getting anywhere NEAR that goal. As well as finding secret bosses, swords, weapons and everything else in between.

THE FIRST BOSS, is DEATH. (Yes I cheated and no I don't care)

Combat and movement in Wonderboy in Monsterland is very simple. Joystick for the movement, one button to attack, the other button jumps. Blocking is done automatically with a shield as long as you're not attacking and if you've got yourself a shield, while magic is cast by pressing down on the joystick. This does become problematic later in the game when enemies are dropping spells and there's ladders to navigate downwards, by pressing DOWN ON THE JOYSTICK... Anyone seeing this as a problem just yet?

Oooh, secret hidden door leading to more bosses.

Wonderboy in Monsterland, treats us to a rather jovial set of music, uplifting and jaunty as it bounces along with a slightly casual set of tunes with a light spring in their step. There's little sense of atmosphere beyond the entire game being treated as a kid's adventure and it fits in well with the graphics and setting.

"Take my large flute and blow on it... Gently..." -this is why I don't go adventuring any more.

Graphically in Wonderboy in Monsterland, everything is nice, friendly and rather cute. Even Death (your first boss), looks nice and cute for a skeleton wearing a robe and holding a scythe. Everything from snakes and yetis, to knights, demons and the last boss, the dragon, looks like a cheerful reject from some Saturday Morning show. The background and foreground are brightly coloured, clear and crisply presented while the design of the levels suffers a little in the later parts when having to jump and navigate up and down screen and the scrolling isn't enough to get through.

All healed up.
 
That said, Wonderboy in Monsterland, starts innocently enough with fairly linear levels and the unknowing behind each door that it could be a shop, a hidden trader for health and such (though in towns they'll be clearly marked) or a boss you weren't prepared to fight. That said, there's the hidden doors that are initially announced and unless you realise what the game is telling you, you have to press up to enter the door or walk past blissfully unaware that you're missing the chance to get more powerful swords and key items that will either solve the final dungeon or make Dragon very easy to defeat.

For what? A "?" and a "?" and that's all I get?

As for the final dungeon, the ramping difficulty for that last level is vertical to the point of coming back on itself as the maze is incredibly long, doesn't make it abundantly clear when you're going the right way or the wrong way at times (unless you have the bell) and is flooded with previous bosses, leaving you to the final battle against Dragon with likely far less hearts than you should have and few spells left. Though if you've the maximum armour, weapons and such, it shouldn't be a challenge. But with a strict timer throughout that drains lives, respawning enemies that stop dropping items after the 2nd or 3rd kill, you NEED to keep on the move or McNoRealSignificance will be gaining his wings sooner than expected and awaiting more cash/credits from the player.