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  • Writer's pictureAllan Jenks

Game Review #374: SEGA AGES: Wonder Boy in Monster Land (Nintendo Switch)

Updated: Jul 31, 2019

Reviewer: Allan Jenks

Developer: M2

Publisher: Sega

Category: Action, Adventure, Platformer

Release Date: 6.27.2019

Price (at time of review): $7.99

Buy SEGA AGES Wonder Boy in Monster Land from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.

What’s in a Classic?

SEGA AGES is a series of ports, remakes, and compilations of older releases from home arcades and home consoles, published by SEGA. The game I am reviewing today is part of the SEGA AGES series, and was originally released as the 1987 arcade classic, Wonder Boy: Monster Land, and then on SEGA Master System in 1988 as Wonder Boy in Monster Land. It saw several other ports for home computers and consoles soon after. Wonder Boy in Monster Land is a sequel to the 1986 game, Monster Boy, and starts out 11 years after the original ends.

Wonder Land has been at peace for all this time, but now, a dragon, called The Meka Dragon, has taken over, turning Wonder Land into the titular Monster Land, and our hero, the now-teenaged Wonder Boy, must once again come to the aid of the kingdom and save its people. This is certainly a classic theme for a classic title. So how does it stack up, and has it aged well?

Simply Challenging

The gameplay is, as with most classic action adventure platformers, simple but challenging. You collect coins by jumping through trees and defeating enemies, and spend the coins on items to help you on your journey, such as shoes, shields, weapons, beer, and cocktails—the latter two for health restoration purposes, of course! Controls are simple: you can jump and attack. The platforming is tricky, and requires a bit of precision and practice to land some of the jumps—the physics of it all are almost a bit slippery, kind of like when landing on ice in certain games, as you have you allow for some extra momentum when making your jumps.

There are a few different modes to the game as well. The main Arcade Mode takes you through the standard game, level by level. Each stage has a different look to it, with new enemies being introduced through each stage, and different bosses to face. You start with just a basic sword and build from there, as you gather coins and visit the different shops located in each stage, and there you can purchase upgraded weapons, speedier shoes, and shields to block certain enemies’ attacks. This mode is tricky, but you have unlimited continues, so you can keep trying to your heart’s content—or until the rage boils over, whichever is first.

Money Hungry Mode has you try to gather as many coins as you can in a sort of speed run of the game where you compete in online leaderboards for high score. There is also Challenge mode, which has two sub-modes: Time Attack, where you start with the strongest weapons and armor, and as many revival medicines as you want, and defeat the dragon (if doing the castle challenge) or the Sphynx (if doing the pyramid challenge) as quickly as you can; and score attack, where you have unlimited fireballs and compete for the high score, but one hit—or if time runs out—and you are done for.

I enjoyed Challenge Mode much more than Arcade Mode personally, if only just because I am able to get further along in the game that way, and I get to experience the stronger weapons—which I have not gotten to unlock yet in Arcade Mode, as I am not that good at this one. I always forget how much more difficult the older games of my childhood really are, but it’s insane sometimes!

Audio & Video

Graphically, this is true to the original version in all its 8-bit Master System glory. The game itself sits in a framed window, sort of like the Game Boy Player or the Super Game Boy does, and the sides are filled with pixel art of the coins, hearts, and money bags. I am glad they did this rather than trying to stretch the original to fit the modern aspect ratio. The game looks great this way. There is also a manual accessible through the main menu that breaks down the basic how-tos for you. You can also look at the manuals for the other SEGA AGES games while there, which I thought was pretty cool.

The soundtrack, as well, is a faithful port of the original, and the music is great, as are the sound effects. I really am a fan of these SEGA AGES releases for just this reason: they are not trying to remake anything, they are simply trying to bring a retro classic to a modern console, and I am glad they did!

Wrapping Up

I have so far enjoyed my time with Wonder Boy in Monster Land, though I will be coming back to it for quite some time in further attempts to finally beat it—but I think that’s part of the charm of the games of my youth, and part of the reason we were able to survive indefinitely on a minimal number of games for our collections, as they provided endless replayability. If you are a fan of the classic 8-bit era, then you absolutely need to pick up SEGA AGES Wonder Boy in Monster Land and add it to your library immediately. There was also a recent update that patched a few bugs, so while I was reviewing it, I was treated to a nice smoothing-over as well, and I haven’t noticed any issues since. Head on over to the eShop and get yourself a copy today!

Score: 9/10

Buy SEGA AGES Wonder Boy in Monster Land from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.

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*Review Code Provided by SEGA

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