Review: Wonder Boy – Asha in Monster World

A nice remake / remaster of a not very good or memorable retro game.

Wonder Boy IV was the last game in Wonder Boyseries that SEGA released in 1994, but then only for the 16-bit console in Japan, unlike previous parts. In this part, the “underboy” had turned into an undergirl named Asha and we got a side-scrolling platform action in an oriental environment, with simpler role-playing elements (inventory, important objects, upgrades, etc.). Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster World, which is today’s consideration, is a remaster / remake with modern graphics and sound, but otherwise basically a picture by picture reproduction of the game from the 90’s (in addition to the possibility to save, which is available now when you want). The original game never became a big hit when it went, which was perhaps not so strange considering the very limited release in the home country. 3D and bigger Zelda adventures had started to become the yardstick and when you play it now you also understand why SEGA did not believe in it very hard (it is included in the boxed version of this release). For you who jacked the excellent SEGA Mega Drive Mini then you will find Wonder Boy IV also in the collection there, if you want to test and form your own opinion.

Wonder Boy Asha in Monster World
Press photo: STUDIOARTDINK

When we start this remake / remaster, a wonderful smile first spreads on our lips: the game is nice and contains celshading graphics, a delicious aesthetic in our book and it flows on like a dream on Playstation 4 and 5 without the slightest hiccup or charging times on the latter. The game mechanics are very simple: Asha can go in all directions, cut with the sword forward, up and down, jump, climb ropes and run two special attacks: a shield for protection (in classic Wonder Boystyle) and a magic attack that you can replenish by collecting magic tears. The most unique feature is the companion Pepelogoo, which is a kind of magical figure that the player can send to enemies and which helps us in various ways through the adventure, including by offering the ability to jump further and higher.

Compared to the original, this is a better, nicer and more modern game – as expected 27 years later. But to 99% it is exactly the same game that we got in 1994 and even then it did not raise very many eyebrows. It feels much more single-track and outdated than, for example Wonder Boy III – The Dragon’s Trap, which received a nice-nice remake just a few years ago and still “works” today for fans of the game type. Wonder Boy IV gets something light museum-like about it, it’s a fun retro flashback as general education but honestly not a giant-dynamic or fun platform adventure you just have to keep playing on. The distances are a bit long and repetitive and there is almost no incentive to backtrack or unlock new features and places you can reach during the game.

Wonder Boy Asha in Monster World
Press photo: STUDIOARTDINK

Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster World is nice and entertaining for the moment, especially for you who love retro games or have any relationship to the game series in general or four in particular. It is well done improvement work on a foundation that was not very good from the beginning. From that point of view, the mission has been successful. But the question is whether SEK 350 for the digital edition will feel affordable for someone other than those already saved? We doubt it.

So – absolutely buy if you’re a fan – maybe even the limited, physical edition of the original game?. Everyone else can well wait for a sale or PS Plus in the future. It’s a nice retro remake, but nothing that is indispensable in the retro collection.