Wonder Boy and its strange naming conventions have been around a lot, lately! From the Dragon’s Trap, to Monster Boy and now Asha in Monster World, it’s easy to get confused! But all you really need to know is this game is a remake of the very last one. After Monster World IV, the series went to bed with the exception of Sega re-release sets. At least, until the remakes and spiritual successors started. 

Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster World Review

It’s hard to say why Asha’s adventure was the last one, but after playing Artdink’s new remake, it’s a bit less of a mystery to me. While this game has certain old school charm, and the new visuals are bright and cute, there just isn’t as much to this adventure as its siblings. There are interesting ideas here, but they don’t converge into a great game at the end of the day.

For the most part, Asha follows the rules of most action/adventure platformers of its era. She can jump, climb ladders, and swing her sword in a couple different directions. A new magic attack system gives her a super meter of sorts, although it doesn’t add much to the combat. The levels are largely straightforward with some occasional hazards and backtracking, but enemies are more obstacles than challenges.

Also, unlike earlier Wonder Boy games, Asha’s quest isn’t very daunting. It’s a largely linear affair, rather than the more Metroidvania-like elements of its predecessors. But perhaps the biggest, unfortunate flaw is with Asha’s partner. A little creature called a Pepelogoo accompanies Asha, and is the key to slightly more advanced mechanics. This feature almost reminded me of Klonoa, in which the title character needed to grab enemies for things like double-jumping. 

But in Monster World IV, the exchange here just feels awkward. You have to call the little creature to you, wait until it perches, and then you can double jump. This decouples you from the hapless critter, meaning you have to do this for every needed jump. There’s also gliding and a sort of shielding property, but while these add to level variety the way the Pepelogoo works really slows this game down.

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Also, compared to other games like it, Asha’s visual style undersells itself as well. While the anime-like style, bright colors and silly animations are appealing, this game loses a lot in its transition to 3D. The Mega Drive original had tons of detail in its environments and sprites, while here everything is much simpler and less lively.

It’s also hard to grok things like how far your attacks reach due to the way polygons work compared to sprites. And considering how close range combat in these games are, that can be an annoyance.                       

If you’re looking at this game as a product, there’s nothing technically wrong with it. Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster World does exactly what it sets out to do. It recreates the original game in high definition, 3D style. But if you stack it up next to the other contemporary Wonder Boy titles, the inadequacies stack up quickly. This was probably a totally fine romp on the Mega Drive or in some of the Sega Genesis collections, but the remake doesn’t do it any favors.


Pros:

  • Bright colors and cute art style make Asha look like an adorable old school anime
  • A very accurate remake of the original game in terms of its structure and progression
  • High quality animation

Cons:

  • Remake doesn’t bring anything interesting to the table
  • Pepelogoo platforming requirement hurts momentum big time
  • Tons of detail and charm lost in the transition from sprites to polygons
  • Original Monster World IV is only included with retail version
  • Several errors in localization text

Score: 6

A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review