The Wonder Boy series that you may remember from the 1980s is back with a new installment called Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster World. This isn’t a new entry however but rather a remake of Monster World IV that released in 1994. How does this 2D side-scrolling adventure hold up on modern day platforms?
You play as a young girl named Asha who is training to become a warrior to defend her land. Early in the game Asha is given a quest by the Queen of the city of Rapadagna to save four spirits and defeat the evil that is threatening the land. Asha also gets a cute Pepelogoo companion that joins her on her quest. The overall plot is nothing special but it serves to set up what you’ll be doing in the game and it was enjoyable nonetheless.
If you played the original Monster World IV then you’ll notice that not a lot has changed in this remake from a gameplay perspective. It still mostly plays the same and features the same map layout too. There are several areas in the game to explore on your quest to save the four spirits. The dungeons feature some good design work, have different environmental themes like fire and ice, and are full of puzzles to solve and things to find. Fully exploring everywhere can be rewarding as you’ll acquire gold and items that will be useful. Asha’s companion Pepelogoo is vital to the gameplay because it allows you to glide, perform double jumps, hit switches, and many more things that you’ll need to solve various puzzles throughout the game. The game does show its age in parts and certain puzzles during the game can be annoying such as one that requires you to have been paying attention to various information that has been told to you throughout the game.
When you need to fight enemies, you’ll be using Asha who has a sword to attack with as well as a shield for defense. Money collected during the game can be used to upgrade both of them to be more effective. Your health meanwhile can be upgraded by acquiring and equipping bangles. Outside that though nothing else really evolves regarding Asha and the gameplay so you’ll be doing the same basic attacks throughout the game. You’ll need everything at your disposal to get through the game as even on Normal difficulty I found it to be quite challenging. This is the difficulty I recommend playing it on but there is an easier one if you are really struggling. Standard enemies usually have basic attack patterns but can damage you quickly if you get careless and when you run into the bosses you’ll need to figure out their attack patterns to avoid dying.
The biggest area of improvement in this remake is in the visuals and the changes to the save system. You now have the ability to pretty much save anywhere which is far and away better than how it was handled in the original game. The visuals meanwhile have been updated to have a cel-shaded 3D look to them even though it’s still a 2D game. The game really looks great with lots of fun and cute animation work and really bright colors throughout. The music is also really good as it features a remastered soundtrack by the original composer.
Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster World remasters a classic game for a new generation to experience and it’s a great one to check out. The visuals and soundtrack are wonderful and Asha and her companion Pepelogoo are very charming. It can come across as a little simple if you’re well experienced with platformers and some of the puzzle design is outdated and annoying. Despite those things I recommend it to fans of side-scrolling platformers as I think you’ll have a good time with it.
*Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster World is available now on PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and PC. PlayStation 4 version reviewed on a PlayStation 5. Review copy provided by the publisher for this review.