Wonder Boy Collection Review thumbnail

Wonder Boy Collection Review

Re-play 4 retro treasures

A.J. Maciejewski

Reviewed by playing a PS4 on

Wonder Boy Collection is also available for Nintendo Switch

Wonder Boy Collection is rated Everyone by the ESRB

Wonder Boy is one of the best retro series with its fun blend of 2D action and RPG elements so let's dive into Wonder Boy Collection.

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Wonder Boy Collection screenshot 1
Things are starting to heat up for Wonder Boy

The collection

Wonder Boy Collection is a compilation of 4 classic games in the series: v1d30chumz 44-192-38-248

  • Wonder Boy (Arcade, 1986)
  • Wonder Boy in Monster Land (Arcade, 1987)
  • Wonder Boy in Monster World (Genesis, 1991)
  • Monster World IV (Genesis, 1994)

Before discussing the individual games, I'm happy to say that each one is emulated very well which is great. On top of that, each game brings its own unique formula to the package which makes swapping between them a ton of fun as you gradually progress towards mastering them all. At least, that's how I played thanks to my incredibly low attention span.

Anyway, experiencing each one of these 4 classics again in all of their old-school glory was a treat and I'm very happy that more gamers can now appreciate the Wonder Boy series. From its lovely sights and sounds to its epic boss battles and its tight gameplay to its quirky humour, there's a lot to love about the Wonder Boy franchise. 😄

Wonder Boy Collection screenshot 2
Wonder Boy is all suited up and ready for adventure

The games

The first game in Wonder Boy Collection is none other than Wonder Boy. Adventure Island fans will immediately recognize it as that game is essentially the NES port of Wonder Boy. Collecting fruit as your hunger meter constantly depletes makes for an engaging formula and avoiding hazards of all kinds as you carefully use your momentum to jump between moving platforms makes for one challenging and rewarding game. The other arcade inclusion is Wonder Boy in Monster Land which admittedly hasn't held up as well as its successors due to its rather finicky gameplay although the added RPG elements certainly make it stand out. Now that I think about it, if you own a Switch then you'd be better off with the Sega Ages release of Wonder Boy in Monster Land as it's much more fully-featured.

Wonder Boy in Monster Land Review

Wonder Boy in Monster World put the series back on track as it expands upon Monster Land's formula while offering immediately gratifying gameplay and a game world that's incredibly memorable and fun to explore. However, it does have one nagging issue which is the ocarina that you have to play at certain parts. Not only is it super-tricky to input the notes correctly, Wonder Boy Collection displays the original Genesis face buttons so you have to translate them in your head before you play the notes. Why couldn't they streamline this? 🤔

Luckily, Monster World IV is just awesome and it's my personal favourite of the classic Wonder Boy games. What makes it so awesome is the sense of exploration and additional moves that allow you to do things like bounce on enemies' heads with a down-thrust attack. Plus, Asha is a wonderful new protagonist and it's an absolute blast to play so it makes you wonder why it never left Japan back in the day. If you enjoy it as much as I do then definitely check out the remake which I think is one of the most underrated games of all time.

Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster World Review
Wonder Boy Collection screenshot 3
Oh, no; Shion has to play that darn ocarina again...

Missing games

If you're as big of a Wonder Boy fan as I am then you know that Wonder Boy Collection is missing some excellent games in the series. The most perplexing is the absence of both Wonder Boy III games: Monster Lair and The Dragon's Trap. Of course, The Dragon's Trap had a lovely remake back in 2017 that lets you play the original but Monster Lair is a fantastic co-op scrolling shooter that not nearly as many gamers are aware of as they should be. I'd even say that it's one of the best retro co-op games ever. Wonder Boy Collection is also missing other console versions of the games with the TurboGrafx iterations being especially fun. 😊

Wonder Boy: The Dragon's Trap Review

With all of that in mind, Wonder Boy Anniversary Collection will release later this year via Strictly Limited Games which features 21 versions of the 6 mainline games including those 2 missing games. However, it still won't have any of the TurboGrafx releases. I hope that these games will be added to Wonder Boy Collection via an update or DLC because that would make owning this even more worthwhile.

The extras

Wonder Boy Collection doesn't contain many options or extras but what it does have is solid. For example, I love how easy it is to save and continue your progress later thanks to a handful of save slots. You can also adjust things like the aspect ratio and sharpness and you can even apply a CRT filter. The most welcome option is the ability to map the controls complete with rewind and fast forward buttons. With that being said, there's only 1 wallpaper and the bonus image gallery is rather small and lacks context. Obviously, a lot more work could have gone into extra content and options but what's here is still more than some compilations offer, I guess.

Wonder Boy Collection screenshot 4
Asha turns enemies into coins like a pro

Wonder Boy Collection is the kind of compilation that its games do all of the heavy lifting. In other words, it's just alright as an overall package yet the individual games are sure to scratch your itch for old-school entertainment for hours upon hours.

  • + All 4 games are well-emulated and great fun in their own unique ways
  • + Easy to save and jump between games
  • + Solid options such as button remapping
  • - Certain unintuitive aspects could have been modernized better
  • - Missing some Wonder Boy classics
  • - Could use more options and extras
8.1 out of 10
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Watch A.J. play Wonder Boy Collection
Wonder Boy Trivia

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