Title: Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster World
Developer: MONKEY CRAFT
Platforms: PS4 (reviewed on), Nintendo Switch
Release Date: May 28, 2021
When reviewing Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster World it is beneficial to fully understand that “wonder” can mean many things. According to Merriam Webster, wonder can be a noun meaning “a cause of astonishment or admiration”. As an example, “It is a wonder that after all these years the Wonder Boy franchise is still around.”
The same group states it can also be an adjective meaning “effective or efficient far beyond anything previously known or anticipated”. An example could be: “The wonder mascot is still being remembered and brought up to this day despite most of the games coming out in the late ’80s and early ’90s.”
Merriam Webster also says it can be a verb as in “to feel curiosity or doubt”. For example, “I wonder why a game looks and feels this bad in 2021.”
And finally, they also state that it can be a biographical name, using the singer/songwriter Stevie Wonder as an example. But this has literally nothing to do with anything.
Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster World is a remake of a previous game in the Wonder Boy/Monster World franchise, “Monster World IV”. The game puts you in control of a young girl by the name of Asha. And no, I don’t understand why they changed the title of this game from Monster World to Wonder Boy considering the main character is a girl and, don’t worry, my wife already referenced the appropriate scene in Scott Pilgrim.
Not dogging Asha. She seems fine and I honestly wish I knew ANYTHING about the character. After a brief story about how you’re on a quest to fulfill a prophecy that will save the kingdom, you start off on a cliff near your dead-eyed dad urging you to go to a tower to prove yourself.
Hot take: If your kingdom is in trouble, maybe don’t make a hero prove themself with a difficult trial. This is why you don’t have an army. Just saying.
Anyways, fun fact, I don’t know why and I take this as a bad sign, but my very first instinct was to not follow my dad but to fling myself off the cliff. I don’t know if this says more about me or the game but I did get a really weird Silver Trophy from PSN for doing this so…I feel rewarded for my actions and I don’t know how to feel about that.
As you proceed through the game you encounter NPCs who speak in broken English, including the famous guru from the original game who talks to you about the fact that he’s not necessary as you can now save from anywhere. The advice I didn’t fully catch told me I needed to manually save because the very first time I died I had to go all the way back to the beginning of the game. I had played about two hours before my first death, so that was a hoot.
Some of the typos in the game can be kind of dangerous. For example, there is a sign very early on that says, “Did you know that you can damage some enemies just by bumping into them?” and then I slammed into a fire slime and got hurt. Apparently, the original sign read “Did you know some enemies can hurt you just by bumping into them?” Big difference my dude.
In some cases, though it creates situations so baffling it made me and my wife almost cry laugh. For example, the first time you encounter a screen so baffling I made it my Macbook’s wallpaper in tribute.
Gameplay is limited in scope. You have a set series of basic sword moves, almost exactly the same as Links moveset in the Adventure of Zelda II. And may I just say, that is not the one you want to be compared to with bosses that basically require you to dodge their one attack in between whacking them in the head as much as possible.
I get it, this is a remake of a title that already came out on the Sega Master System. I understand the base game is old and a product of its time, I genuinely do; but, we’re at the point where we can do more with our remakes.
Super Mario Brothers 3 for the Game Boy Advance was a remake all the way back in 2003 that, while a port of Super Mario Brothers 3, had updated graphics AND the ability to add items from other Mario games like the Cape Feather and turnips from Super Mario 2. Almost every Final Fantasy game has had a remake/remaster that involved things from graphical overhauls to being able to give yourself infinite money and turning off random encounters if you want.
So, forgive me if I’m spoiled by other updates but in 2021, adding a save feature (without autosave) and updating the graphics to something that looks like it came from the Dreamcast era isn’t enough.
The stages are so bland that the first dungeon made me feel like I was playing the creation of someone using Mario Maker for the very first time. Assets randomly places and bright orange platforms that looked like they were shades and lit differently like they came from a separate game just created an off-putting experience as I faced off against slow-moving enemy after slow-moving enemy. I’ve recorded the first 15 minutes of gameplay so you can see what I’m talking about.
I don’t hate the Wonder Boy games and I get why they’re still famous. Wonder Boy may be one of the more famous mascots but I promise you it’s not a title that you can just slap out and expect people to buy off name alone because I would not recommend this to anyone unless they stated: “I’m looking for something that plays like an early era Newgrounds Flash game.”
A copy of this game was provided to App Trigger for the purpose of this review. All scores are ranked out of 10, with .5 increments. Click here to learn more about our Review Policy.