Wonder Boy: Reminiscing About Monster World

Wonder Boy: Reminiscing About Monster World

What is the secret of his power?

A.J. Maciejewski

Written by for Retrospectives on

From Alex Kidd to Vectorman, Sega had a ton of series that are unfortunately now buried in the past. Wonder Boy is one such series. The perfect combination of platforming, action, adventure, role-playing, and arcade elements created incredibly addictive gameplay set in fantastical worlds. Let's take a look back and remember a time when kids could freely buy alcohol from dragon bartenders.

Wonder Boy in Monster Land screenshot
I guess Wonder Boy got his hands on a fake ID

Wonder Boy travels to Adventure Island

Wonder Boy debuted in arcades as a side-scrolling platformer where the poor fellow must constantly keep eating or else he'll die of starvation. I guess he had quite a serious tapeworm problem. Anyway, it was later ported to consoles such as the Master System, Game Gear, and Commodore 64. Just a few months after its release, an adaptation was developed by Hudson Soft for the NES under the name Adventure Island. Hudson took the Adventure Island series in its own direction with a handful of sequels that were generally similar to the original while the Wonder Boy series would soon reinvent itself...

Wonder Boy carves his own path

A year after his debut, Wonder Boy journeyed to Monster Land. He no longer had to worry about constantly eating while running around in a grass skirt since he finally invested in some Biltricide and a cloth diaper. This installment incorporated many classic RPG elements such as a health bar, money (with shops to spend it in), equipment, and useful items. The new genre-mixing formula saw him through a few sequels like Wonder Boy III: The Dragon's Trap which was the first title not featured in arcades. In this adventure, our hapless hero became cursed to live as a half-lizard upon defeating the ever-powerful Mecha Dragon. It's not like him to give up, so he pushed onward to slay the Vampire Dragon and return to normal. Feeling as lively as ever, Wonder Boy trekked to Monster World for his final quest to rid the world of evil. If sinister forces ever arise again, will Wonder Boy return to save us?

Wonder Boy III: Monster Lair screenshot
Playing Monster Lair cooperatively is a hoot

Wonder Boy is thoroughly confused

Looking back at the series and trying to piece it together has left me baffled. The first three Wonder Boy games are fairly straightforward, but there was another Wonder Boy III entitled Monster Lair which was an arcade shoot 'em up spin-off of its console counterpart. The next game in the series that we know as Wonder Boy in Monster World was titled Wonder Boy V: Monster World III in Japan. Where is Wonder Boy IV? Anyway, a large source of confusion comes from the fact that most games were titled differently depending on what console they were released for since Sega owns the rights to "Wonder Boy". For example, why is the TurboGrafx-16 version of Wonder Boy III: The Dragon's Trap simply called Dragon's Curse in North America yet it's known as Adventure Island in Japan? Talk about going full circle! In Brazil, the first three Monster World games were altered to be the video game versions of the comic book series "Monica's Gang". This chaos is probably why Wonder Boy retired and was replaced by a heroine named Asha in Monster World IV.

Wonder Boy ponders what's to come

The entire series of Wonder Boy and Monster World games can now be downloaded via Virtual Console, Xbox Live Arcade, and the PlayStation Network. Perhaps it's because of its popularity within the last few years that a sequel is finally being developed. That's right, after over 20 years since the most recent installment; Germany's FDG Entertainment and France's Game Atelier are working together with one of the original developers (Ryuichi Nishizawa) to create a long-awaited sequel now known as Monster Boy and the Wizard of Booze. Only time will tell whether it'll have what it takes to live up to its predecessors. Whatever the case is, it sure is great news to hear that Wonder Boy is at long last returning just when we need him most.

Wonder Boy in Monster World screenshot
Don't try to jump Wonder Boy in the jungle... you'll be sorry!

Although Sega has given up publishing Wonder Boy games long before they should have, it still remains a valuable series that's dear to many gamers' hearts. What are your favourite Wonder Boy memories? Are you looking forward to Monster Boy? Let's talk in the comments below! I'd love to hear from you.

Gameplay video for Wonder Boy in Monster World 4:44

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