REVIEW: ‘Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster World’ Is a Cute Platforming Adventure (Switch)

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Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster World

The Wonder Boy/Monster World series, a 90s Japanese classic, has had a bit of a revival lately. Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster World from developer Artdink and publisher ININ Games looks to continue the series’ newfound success but, with each remake being developed by different teams, simply having the Wonder Boy name isn’t enough to be a mark of quality. A remake of 1994’s Wonder Boy IV, Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster World sees young hero Asha embark on a journey to save the world from mysterious evil forces. With her new companion, a blue monster known as a “Pepelogoo,” Asha must travel to different lands, defeat a slew of enemies, and solve puzzles to restore balance to the world.

Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster World feels very much like a platformer from the 90s, for better and for worse. The game keeps things incredibly simple. Players almost always move either right or left through a level, combat consists of simple attacks and blocks, you collect coins and collectibles scattered around each level; it’s a pretty bog-standard platformer. This isn’t a complaint, however. Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster World revels in its simplicity, giving players a trip back to simpler times.

Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster World does differ from old-school Mario and Sonic games in a few ways, however. The game’s main “gimmick” is the Pepelogoo. For most of the game, Asha’s little blue buddy allows her to do a number of extra actions, such as double jump, glide, put out fire, melt ice, and more. Players will likely become attached to the Pepelogoo very quickly, as it makes Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster World stand out from other platformers and is just plain fun to mess around with.

As players defeat monsters, open chests and explore each level, they will find tons of coins scattered about. These coins can be used to buy upgraded shields, swords, armor, and health in shops. While one could mostly ignore these upgrades throughout the game, buying them makes things much easier in the long run. Having these upgrades available makes picking up coins feel important, as opposed to just another score increase that most players won’t care about.

Fans of the original Wonder Boy IV won’t be disappointed with Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster World. The game is a mostly faithful remake of the original, draped in shiny new graphics. For the most part, the game’s graphical overhaul works in its favor. Most of the monsters, the Pepelogoos, and Asha herself look fantastic. When you start looking closely at environments and NPCs, however, things start to look a bit muddy. Nothing in the game looks bad, per se, but some of the characters just look significantly worse than others.

The game is also dripping in charm. Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster World features new Japanese voice acting which makes just about every character far more loveable than they have any right to be. Pair this with the cute animations that accompany many of the game’s actions (I will always love Asha’s little dance she does when opening chests) and you’ve got a game that will just generally make you smile.

While Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster World begins fairly linear and straightforward, things get a bit more complicated as players progress. Levels become increasingly nonlinear and are filled with puzzles that can be a little more tedious than they need to be. The Ice Pyramid level in particular will likely drive players up a wall, not because of the actual difficulty of the level, but the sheer amount of time they take to complete. Unless you’ve played the game before and know what you’re doing, chances are you’ll miss tons of important collectibles on your way through the level, which leads to a ton of painful backtracking and wasted time.

For the most part, Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster World runs fairly well on the Switch. The game isn’t all that graphically intensive and not much usually happens on screen at once, so there is no surprise there. Whenever you defeat an enemy that drops a bunch of coins or multiple enemies are on screen at once, however, the frame rate noticeably drops. Also, the frame rate during cutscenes can be abysmal, which really takes you out of the experience.

In true 90s fashion, Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster World does not have an autosave feature. You can save much more frequently in the remake than in the original, but you still have to consciously do so. Whenever you die, you must reload a save, so make sure that you are constantly saving (or at least saving after beating levels). If you don’t, you might end up having to replay hours of tedious levels (here’s looking at you, Ice Pyramid), and no one wants that.

Fans of platformers will have a good time with Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster World. While not revolutionary in any way, it’s a good, old fashion platforming action. Are there better platformers on the market? Sure, but not everything has to be Super Mario Bros. 3. The game’s simple gameplay and relatively short playtime make it perfect for beginners and are sure to bring a smile to veterans. Framerate issues and tedious levels keep it from being a must-play, but if you’ve got a few hours to spare, playing Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster World is a good way to spend them.

Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster World is available May 28 on Nintendo Switch, PS4 and PC.* 

*The digital version of Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster World can be purchased from the Nintendo and Sony stores and is published by STUDIOARTDINK. The boxed retail version of Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster World comes exclusively with the original Monster World IV published by ININ Games

Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster World
  • 7/10
    Rating - 7/10
7/10

TL;DR

Fans of platformers will have a good time with Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster World. While not revolutionary in any way, it’s a good, old fashion platforming action. Are there better platformers on the market? Sure, but not everything has to be Super Mario Bros. 3. The game’s simple gameplay and relatively short playtime make it perfect for beginners and are sure to bring a smile to veterans. Framerate issues and tedious levels keep it from being a must-play, but if you’ve got a few hours to spare, playing Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster World is a good way to spend them.