I want to start off by saying that I was provided a code for Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster World and I planned to beat the whole game before posting about my experience. It has taken a bit longer to play through this game (especially with recent game releases). I’ve put together some of my thoughts on this game right here.
So far, I’ve spent about two hours of gameplay in this game. The Wonder Boy franchise was originally a SEGA franchise, which is why I missed out (as a Nintendo kid). The first game was released in 1986, the same year I was born. There were multiple games after, but this is my first Wonder Boy adventure.
Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster World (2021) is a remake of the 1994 game Monster World IV, created with some of the original team. I recently had the chance to preview Alex Kidd in Miracle World DX, another retro remake. In Alex Kidd you can switch between the old, retro style and the new look instantly with the press of one button — which was a pretty neat mechanic. Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster World doesn’t allow you to switch between games like Alex Kidd, but with the purchase of any physical edition you will also gain access to the original 1994 Monster World IV.
I have really enjoyed my time with Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster World. I do enjoy playing old school platformers that have been remade and remastered. I really like that it plays like a retro game but feels and looks like something from today with a hand-drawn art style. It’s great that even with the advancements in technology today, we’re still seeing retro-style games being made.
This is not an easy game, but it is pretty simple in that there’s only really a few mechanics to it. When it comes to battle you can block with a shield or attack with your sword (or weapon of choice). You can also jump and once you get your Pepelogoo friend (a blue flying creature) you gain many new abilities which you keep uncovering as you play.
The Pepelogoo’s main ability is giving you the power to glide through the air and granting Asha a double jump. Once I learned this ability I ended up using it for every jump, sort of like once I gained the magic carpet in Aladdin (SNES). In Aladdin, I would climb as high as I can and glide through most of the level. The Pepelogoo can also extinguish fire with it’s breath, grab hard to reach coins and hearts, and be used as a fan to move a raft through the water — I’m sure there’s even more abilities to be learned.
I was stuck for a few days in Wonder Boy, I knew that I needed to take out a large fire — one that was too large for my little Pepelogoo friend. I had a bucket in my inventory, so I guessed I had to fill it with water. It took a few days to figure out but I finally did it.
Many of the creatures you encounter throughout the game only require one or two blows to defeat them. The boss fights aren’t so easy. In fact, some of them are quite hard. I was able to take out one or two bosses on my first try, others took many attempts to defeat. Many bosses are tricky with their movements.
Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster World is full of small puzzles. Many parts of each stage are made up of areas you need to unlock to move on. Sometimes you have to figure it out using the help of your Pepelogoo. Other times you may have to defeat an enemy or extinguish a fire. I feel this game would benefit from a map, but since it’s a remake I’m guessing the original didn’t have a map. In order to solve the small puzzles in this game you’ll need to pay attention and use your memory.
One small problem I ran into while playing on my PlayStation 5 was the load times were too quick. During loading screens this game throws out helpful tips, but I never got to read any of them since the game would load instantly and I’d be back to playing. It’s not a terrible problem to have, but this game has truly shown me the power of the PS5’s SSD.
I really enjoy the music from Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster World, although I did notice the same song was being replayed in most worlds, using different instruments and tones. I still enjoy the song and haven’t become annoyed by it, but I can see some people not enjoying this as much.
I plan to continue playing this game, now that I’m no longer stuck by the fire. I love old retro games, especially when they’ve been remade to look like a current game. I love what Alex Kidd did with the instant switch from new to retro, but I don’t expect every game to do that.
Overall, Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster World is a pretty chill and beautiful remake of a retro game. I’ve gone back to play some retro platformers on my old consoles (SNES, NES) and they do feel hard to get back into. I like that these retro remakes and the “retro-style” games of today feel like a game made today, while looking like the games of yesterday. I didn’t get a chance to try out the original game since I received a digital code, but I think it would be neat to try them out side by side.