Wonder Boy - Asha in Monster World PlayStation 4 Review

Wonder Boy - Asha in Monster World doesn’t stand on its own as it is very dependent on the nostalgia factor.

By RON, Posted 09 Jun 2021

Nostalgia, what would the past decade be without it? It is precisely nostalgia why we are here today. Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster World is not a game that tries to capture the essence of a bygone era, as Cuphead or Shovel Knight did back in the day but an actual effort to bring to the west a game that was exclusive to Japan, despite the fact it was the last part of a series that indeed made it to America and Europe. We’re talking about Wonder Boy, Monster World in Japan, whose last game, 1994’s Monster World IV, was never localized for western audiences. Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster World is an actual remake of that game but with a fresh coat of paint and an earnest attempt to update an almost 30-year-old game to the likings of the 2020s. Does it achieve what it aimed to accomplish? Let’s find out.

Wonder Boy - Asha in Monster World, PlayStation 4, PS4, Review, Gameplay, Intro

Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster World, which henceforth shall be called just Asha for simplicity’s sake, is an old-school 2D platformer that despite its 3D models is at heart a product of its era. This game is a shot-by-shot copy of its predecessor, Monster World IV with only slight changes in gameplay, most notably, the ability to save the game in the pause menu instead of using an NPC to do so. But no matter how updated it may seem in its graphics department, the game can’t hide what it is, a simple platformer from 27 years ago. Because of this, you will find yourself underwhelmed because the game looks like a modern title but feels very much dated, so there’s a bit of a mismatch.

What’s the game about? You control Asha, a young girl from the small town of Rapadagna, who reminds us of Shantae a little bit in terms of character design. After mysterious wizards have trapped four elemental spirits of this world, it is up to Asha and her pet companion, Pepelogoo, to traverse the world and rescue these elemental beings. Pretty straightforward.

Asha has a limited range of movements and abilities. A single scimitar strike, a defensive move using her shield, a magic attack, a jump, and a double jump courtesy of her interaction with Pepelogoo. This relationship pays tribute to the Monster World series and remains central to the gameplay. Pepelogoo allows Asha to double jump, press switches, fetch objects, press switches, and even freeze in place to create a new platform. The most interesting feature about Pepelogoo perhaps is the fact that it evolves and mutates the more advance you make in the game, which provides an actual sense of progression. Not only your companion changes but the central town does as well. Let’s have in mind this town is used as a hub for the rest of the levels and new secrets can be discovered as you advance in the game.

Wonder Boy - Asha in Monster World, PlayStation 4, PS4, Review, Gameplay, Boss Fights

If you don’t like backtracking and way too simple puzzles based on memory and switch pressing, then this game is not right for you. As we mentioned before, its core mechanics are pretty dated and unless you’re looking to bring back memories of simpler times, you might find it lackluster and incomplete in a sense.

That’s not o say the effort is not valued, and the game does accomplish something valuable. After all, the father of the series, Ryuichi Nishizawa, is in charge of the project, and he brought, Shinichi Sakamoto, the main composer with him. That takes us to the music. In this era, music was a central aspect of gaming, with iconic and beloved themes in even the most mediocre of games, such as those of SNE’s Waterworld or Ecco the Dolphin. In this case, the soundtrack offers renditions of the original theme as well as remixed versions of the songs present in the original game. And they are as good as one could expect from a 1994 game. Alas! some levels can be extended for quite a long time and so the music tends to repeat itself ad nauseam but it is a minor concern when the tunes are so damn good. Another key aspect of audio design is the sound effects which emulate the sound effects of old and are just so satisfying to hear as if they triggered something deep in our memories.

Wonder Boy - Asha in Monster World, PlayStation 4, PS4, Review, Gameplay, Boss Fights

That being said, the game doesn’t stand on its own as it is very dependent on the nostalgia factor and won’t appeal to new gamers who didn’t grow up with the series or similar games. It is worth noting that the physical version of the game includes the original 1994 title translated to English, which is a nice add-on and a great way to see just how faithful the remake is. Nevertheless, the game has a very specific target in mind, and, because of that, it cannot be evaluated on a positive note on its own.

Sarwar Ron, NoobFeed
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General Information

Platform(s): PC, PS4, Switch
Publisher(s): ININ Games, Artdink, G Choice, United Games Entertainment GmbH
Developer(s): Artdink
Genres: 3D Platformer
Themes: Fighting, Action-Adventure
Release Date: 2021-05-28

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