Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster World

Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster World Review

A 16-bit gem returns cuter than ever

A.J. Maciejewski

Reviewed by playing a PS4 on 🗡️

Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster World is also available for Nintendo Switch

Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster World is rated Everyone 10+ by the ESRB

It's been a long time since Monster World IV debuted for Sega Genesis but it's back and gosh darn, this remake is cute! Let's dive in.

Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster World screenshot 1
Rapadagna sure is a lovely place to visit

Although Monster World IV was only available in Japan back in 1994, I actually played through it when it released for PlayStation 3 in 2012. More recently, it became available as one of the included games for the very cool Sega Genesis Mini console, too. Anyway, although I have fond memories of the classic Wonder Boy games, I'm happy to say that Monster World IV remains one of my favourite titles in the franchise. Thankfully, Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster World retains everything that made it special while boasting gorgeous updated visuals, a brand new soundtrack, a wonderfully recreated Rapadagna, and additional gameplay elements. Meanwhile, the intricate stages essentially have the same layouts so overall; it's a very familiar experience that'll please fans while being modernized enough to appeal to newcomers as well. It must be challenging to strike this balance but the developers did and I applaud them. 👏

For the unfamiliar, Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster World is played by controlling the titular hero Asha as she rescues 4 spirits from their respective stages. You do so by running and jumping through levels while attacking enemies which is handled fluidly as you can up-thrust, down-thrust to bounce off enemies, raise elemental shields, and execute a charged Magical Hit attack which can cause much more damage. On top of all that, you'll acquire a pet named Pepelogoo at the beginning of the journey who will help you solve puzzles and progress by allowing you to glide, double-jump, and push switches all while being flame-resistant. These mechanics blend seamlessly with the challenging adventure-style level design to create a consistently rewarding and enjoyable experience from start to finish.

Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster World screenshot 2
Looks like it's Asha's lucky day!

As you play, you'll amass a wealth of gold 💰 that you can trade with the merchants of Rapadagna for equipment which is rewarding stuff. Obtaining a new sword that doubles your damage 🗡️, an elemental shield that can nullify certain attacks 🛡️, or a bracelet that extends your maximum HP ❤️ is extremely helpful. Speaking of which, there are 200 collectible Life Drops 💧 hidden throughout the campaign and for every 10 you collect, your maximum hearts will increase by 1. Yes, having full extra hearts is indeed awesome 💙. Oh, and if you miss anything then it's not a big deal because you can revisit levels this time around. You can also summon a genie 🧞‍♂️ from the pause menu if you'd like to quit a level, upgrade your gear, and restart the level with your progress intact. Now, that's nifty!

Of course, even though Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster World is great fun, it also shows its age in a few ways although definitely not as much as many other retro remakes do. The most substantial downside is that I wish there were more gameplay elements. Whereas some of the other Wonder Boy games allow you to transform into different animals 🐷🐸🦁 like in the absolutely wonderful Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom, there aren't any similar mechanics here. Also, not knowing if a hole is a pit or where you need to go can be a problem. The bosses are kind of forgettable and easy, too, although they definitely look cool which is nice, of course.

As I mentioned, the visuals and music of Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster World are spot-on and I loved traversing its memorable world. Asha's animations are lovely as well and watching her tumble out of tubes and wiggle her bum when she opens a treasure chest is delightful. With that in mind, there is the occasional graphical and auditory stutter as if the game is loading which I found disorienting. It doesn't happen often but it's worth noting. On the plus side, you can listen to the original game's soundtrack 🎵 as you play after entering a secret code. In fact, there are a few awesome secrets from the original so look forward to seeing those again!

Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster World screenshot 3
Time to evaporate the Water Wizard

Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster World is a lovely game through-and-through so if you like the idea of getting lost in a lighthearted old-school adventure that's full of fun surprises then you'll enjoy every second of this adventure.

  • + Tight gameplay with satisfying moves and wonderfully intricate level design
  • + Fantastically adorable visuals and music
  • + Rewarding upgrades and memorable world
  • - Gameplay could use more mechanics
  • - Some elements haven't aged well
  • - Occasional graphical stutters
8.2 out of 10
Gameplay video for Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster World thumbnail
Gameplay video for Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster World 15:28
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