Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster World Review

Developed By
Artdink
Published By
ININ Games
Genre
Action-adventure
Consoles
Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4
Purchase On:

Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster World is the latest in the long-running Wonder Boy series, renowned for its colorful aesthetics and action-adventure platforming. Asha in Monster World is a remake of the original Monster World IV released for the Sega Genesis in 1994. It encapsulates the original game’s vibrant 16-bit art, simple inventory management, and whimsical movement. While the game sticks closely to the original’s level design, puzzles, and plot, It features a brand new 2.5D presentation, voice acting, and some new quality of life features. As a result, Asha in Monster World provides a fun platforming experience despite retreading familiar ground. 

 

Asha is summoned from a faraway village to save the land from forthcoming danger. She leaves and assists the town of Rapadagna, where the Queen beckons Asha to save four captive spirits. While the town is seemingly prosperous, its residents are oblivious that darkness is quickly approaching. Fortunately, Asha is soon joined by a Pepelogoo, a striking blue creature that helps her travel, solve puzzles, and overcome obstacles. Her journey takes her to striking locales across land, sea, and air. 

Asha in Monster World is a straightforward experience. Asha defeats enemies, hits switches, and solves simple puzzles to reach the end of each stage. Each stage has discoverable life drops that extend Asha’s maximum life. The inventory management is relatively simple as she can purchase weapons and armor to boost her attributes. Every so often, she discovers key items that need to be used at specific times to open the next door. Asha in Monster World‘s key difference from other platformers is her synergy with her friend Pepelogoo. Pepelogoo allows Asha to hover, do double jumps, fetch items, shield against fire, and much more. It can take a little bit to get used to the controls, but it soon becomes second nature.  

One of the remake’s selling points is its 2.5D presentation. The character models’ cel-shading is appropriately bold even if the execution is a bit basic. Asha’s animations are dynamic, and the NPCs’ animations are also serviceable as well. Each environment features plenty of props, and the outdoor environments especially feel lively with their added foliage. Certain paths also allow Asha to move into the background and foreground, which is an amusing way to utilize the game’s environments.

Another graphical addition is how the camera moves around whenever Asha approaches key NPCs or bosses, which creates a bit more dynamism. The indoor environments feature a handful of subtle touches like water splashes and icy breath as well. However, some platforms and long hallways look a bit plain, especially since they adhere to the originals’ placement and designs. Furthermore, the Nintendo Switch version’s framerate can be inconsistent, but fortunately, the dips are hardly ever severe. While the graphical facelift is generally simple, it is nonetheless executed in a way that charmingly brings the original game’s art style to life.

As expected, the game’s audio has been redone as well. The game’s arrangements of the original’s music are competently constructed. These arrangements stick to the original compositions’ melodies with some upbeat instrumentation. Much like before, the music largely features a recurring leitmotif that unifies the entire game’s soundtrack. One audio addition is the Japanese voice acting, which is largely serviceable but adds an energetic flair. The spirits and important NPCs have fully voiced dialogue, and Asha’s chirpy battle cries are appropriate. 

Asha in Monster World is also not a particularly punishing game. It features plenty of opportunities to restore health. Asha can carry multiple Elixirs that fully restore her life, and there are other restorative items as well. Pepelogoo can even resurrect Asha upon defeat if she has an Elixir on hand. The bosses’ patterns are generally straightforward. However, even if Asha incurs more damage than desired, players can easily reload a prior save on the fly. Players can now save the game at any point except for boss fights, which makes the experience even brisker. The game also provides twelve save slots too. Furthermore, Asha in Monster World provides plenty of tips during loading screens and has an ad dedicated help section. 

While the game is largely a graphical facelift of Monster World IV, it adds some bells and whistles that cater to modern sensibilities. Each attack builds a gauge that allows Asha to unleash a more powerful attack, which is a neat touch. In addition, each enemy has a clearly visible life bar. One of the original game’s key quirks is that areas become permanently inaccessible once completed. Asha in Monster World allows players to return to prior areas and even shows how many Life Drops have been collected versus the actual possible total. 

Asha in Monster World will likely entertain anyone looking for a colorful platforming adventure. In some regards, the game is overly faithful to the original experience, and Monster World IV veterans will be revisiting many familiar territories. However, for those who have not played the original game, the remake exudes charm despite sticking to its 16-bit roots. The game shows a lot of heart as Asha interacts with townspeople and strives to defeat the encroaching forces of darkness. While the level designs can feel a bit straightforward and dated, the simple combat, straightforward story, and light puzzle-solving are still endearing. The game is also not too long as it takes approximately six hours to complete. Asha in Monster World closely sticks to its source material, but the additional visual flourishes add a touch of vibrancy to an already-entertaining experience.

The digital version of Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster World can be purchased from the Nintendo and PlayStation stores and is published by STUDIOARTDINK.

The boxed retail version of Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster World comes exclusively with the original Monster World IV is published by ININ Games.

Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster World Review
Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster World Review
Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster World is a colorful action-adventure platformer. While it sticks closely to Monster World IV's established designs, its quality of life improvements and vibrant new visual are worthwhile.
Pros
Vibrant new visual presentation that features added foliage, camera shifts, and more
Worthwhile quality of life improvements
New voice acting
Cons
Sticks a bit too closely to Monster World IV's level design and 16-bit roots
Inconsistent framerate on the Nintendo Switch version
3.5
Score
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