By: John C. Mayberry
The remake in any form of entertainment media is nothing new, but even so, must be handled with care. As many successes as there have been, there have also been enough stinkers out there to give remakes a not-so-great reputation in the gaming world. Which is why it’s always refreshing to play through one that improves on the original while honoring everything it was. Even for a game that was released only in Japan, fans the world over who are lucky enough to own a copy of Monster World IV will not want to miss its faithful remake Wonder Boy – Asha in Monster World for the Nintendo Switch.
Asha, the green-haired protagonist of this extremely fun title, begins hearing the whispers of four spirits in the wind and, after receiving the title of warrior from the Queen, sets out to defeat the wizards who entrapped them, to save Monster World from their attempted conquest. To aid her in her quest is her blue pepelogoo, who can assist her in things from movement, reaching higher areas, even activate switches and disable traps. It’s a return to the simpler times of gaming also, with the feel of Legend of Zelda you will get from gameplay, puzzle solving and design, and NPC interactions, with an easy learning curve that makes this game accessible to any and all ages. Even with the very minor issues some may find in this title regarding spoken dialogue or character movement, this has easily become one of my favorite titles amongst the multitude of consoles I personally own (which is saying something, because it is not a small collection).
A game with strategic, fast-paced gameplay with an RPG element that is easy to learn, and that also offers all the best parts of the puzzle/platformer genre, Wonder Boy – Asha in Monster World is a must-own game for the Switch. Download it, get the physical copy of the game, however you do it, just get a copy. Trust me on this, you are not going to be disappointed. Games like this one are not only going to be remembered and beloved for many generations, but are also the ever-constant reminder of why myself, and billions of others will always love gaming. So, for now kids, I shall sign off, because I need to play through this one more time! What? I’m addicted to this game, can’t help it.
Graphics and animation – Clean, clear, and truly a sight to behold. The anime-like art style is on point, characters and environments are clearly defined, and beautifully colored. The graphics alone are impressive. The animation, just, candy for the eyes. You will have just as much fun watching the events unfold as you will playing through them.
Sound – The music and sound effects used add a certain air of charm onto an already charming game. Precise, befitting to the overall feel of the game, and an overall enhancement to an already fun game. Go on, give it al listen. Tell me it doesn’t put you in a good mood.
Gameplay – Fluent and fun. This is one of the most fun games I’ve ever played in the whole of my existence. It has the fast-paced action of a puzzle/platformer, and an easy-to-learn RPG element akin to games like Legend of Zelda. Cooler also, is the fact you can save/load a game at any point during the gameplay, making it easy to backtrack if necessary. Boss battles however are the only exception to this.
Accessible to all – The learning curve of the game is easy enough for gamers of all ages to be able to pick up that controller and play through this gem of a game. Not too difficult, but still challenging enough to keep players engaged, this game is the epitome of the phrase “appropriate for all ages”.
Level design – Although Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster World utilizes side-scrolling movement, there are doors and other passageways Asha will pass through that simulate 3D movement and exploration. As opposed to other side-scrollers where the environment feels largely flat, you will get quite the opposite with this game, as the design was done in such a way to where the various areas you visit feel more expansive than they look.
Control configuration for movement – The one and only thing I found in this game that made gameplay somewhat tedious at moments. Although it is a minor one, as you have two ways to control Asha’s movement, by way of using the control stick (which in my opinion is the faster one), or the D-pad. Versatile, but for those who prefer using the control stuck there is the difficulty of the block function also being done by pushing the control stick downward, with the slightest movement sometimes making Asha halt mid-sprint as she puts up her shield. Depending on what you’re doing, where you are, or if you’re in the middle of a battle, this could occasionally prove to be a bit difficult.
OVERALL SCORE – 9.75 out of 10
Remember how I say, “games are fun, but breaks are healthy”? Well, once you start, you will have great difficulty taking yourself away from this game for even a single attosecond. It is that enjoyable. Really, there aren’t enough good things I can say about this game in English or any other spoken or written language that exists. It’s charming, memorable, and something I would certainly consider an instant classic for the Switch. Decades later, when I’m closer to being of senior citizen age, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised seeing this built into a Nintendo Switch Classic!