Review by David O’Flaherty
Everybody knows the Wonder Boy series of games by now. Whether you’re like me and grew up with them or have been introduced to them by older family members who still own the cartridges there are very few people who hate the game series and today I bring to you the review of Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom.
The spiritual successor/sequel to Wonder Boy 3 the dragons trap all the way back from the Sega Master System days (yes the original is that old) or for more recent players the remake that was released barely a year and a half ago for all major platforms. Is it a true successor or just another cash grab attempt that seems to be plaguing the gaming industry lately? Let’s have a look shall we?
Graphically the game is awesome, blatant throwbacks and tributes to the Wonder Boy games that it’s based on. Stages look like they’ve been hand drawn and not only are they well presented but a lot of it is well animated and doesn’t suffer from the old problem where animated sections stand out a mile from static areas.
Gameplay wise it’s a remake of dragons trap with the transformations into other creatures which are needed to get to other areas. Where it differs though is in the controls. You’re no longer trapped in that one form until you find a transformation pad or get recurved into another form. Now you can change forms on the fly by using the shoulder buttons which makes fights all that more interesting if you’re quick-fingered. Each form has unique attacks and powers like you’d expect from playing the other games but each actually serves a purpose, the pig you first get transformed into for example can sniff out secrets. The dragon and lion make a return from its predecessor but joining the fight are the aforementioned pig, a snake and a frog form to mix things up a bit.
The inventory system is clear and well thought out and you have quite a few options to play with. New mechanics have also been added, some hidden doors take you deep in to the background on some stages to collect treasure chests that at first glance seem impossible to collect, the addition of a breathing mechanic underwater also adds to the urgency of getting to where you need to go rather than just casually sitting back and admiring the water.
There are secrets and puzzles all over to keep you guessing and the level design is brilliant and open even though it’s designed to guide you where to go you can essentially go anywhere you want until you obviously get stuck because you lack a particular item, piece of equipment or form.
All in all, Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom is a great game worthy of being called a successor to Wonder Boy and although quite expensive at £33 at the time of writing this I actually think it’s worth it just for the amount of content that’s actually in the game at first glance. Well worth a punt and for those that by some miracle haven’t played any Wonder Boy games at all then you seriously need to get this.