An Adventurous Blast From The Past
Ever since my teenage years, I’ve been a huge fan of the Wonder Boy series. It has undertaken a number of transformations and spinoffs since the Adventure Island series, which began with the original Wonder Boy game. Then there was my introduction to the series in the form of Dragon’s Curse on the TG-16 which, in itself, was a remake of Wonder Boy and the Dragon’s Trap (read our review here). And lastly, there was Monster World IV – the final game in both the Wonder Boy AND Monster World series of games. I’ve remained fond of these games and still revisit them even though the last game was released in 1994.
So, it came as a huge surprise to me when Wonder Boy and the Wizard of Booze surfaced via Kickstarter in 2015! Finally, one of my all-time favorite series was making a comeback! Unfortunately, the game sort of vanished from the public eye for years with only the Dragon Trap remake getting press. So, I was extremely surprised when I learned that, not only was this game still in development but that it was going to be making an appearance at E3 2018! I was fortunate enough to get a chance to play a demo at the conference. Two different areas were made available to me during my time with the demo: an adventure stage and a dungeon stage.
An Evolution of Visual Splendors
The adventure stage was a beach area that seemed to be styled as an excellent callback to the Seaside area of the original Wonder Boy and the Dragon’s Trap – complete with a wonderful remix of the original theme. It is in this area that players are given an introduction to how world adventuring traversal will go. As Monster Boy, you are tasked with exploring the beach area to catch up with a mischievous old man on a rocket barrel. That last sentence should certainly provide the understanding that this game does not take itself seriously. The environment itself is quite colorful, the animation fluid, and gameplay feels like an absolute dream.
As enemies appear on the screen, they may be dispatched with sword melee attacks and, later on, a fireball magic attack. As foes are toppled, they may drop money which can be used at shops found in the world to purchase various goods such as weapons, armor, and field exploration gear. During the demo, I was able to buy a pair of Steel Boots which not only altered my defense stats but they also allowed for me to sink like a stone in water so that I could walk along the ocean floor. The downside to these boots was that they also hindered movement speed which prevented them from being a permanent upgrade to my starting pair of Leather Boots. Even though my progress wasn’t going to be saved, I found myself having a fantastic time exploring the map in order to locate as many hidden treasures and secrets as possible before concluding the Beach Area demo with a boss fight against a vibrant and well-animated squid!
Dungeon Diving Never Hurt a Fly
The second part of the demo was a dungeon stage which took place in a temple ruin infested with vegetation overgrowth. Dungeon stages in this game are 2-D multi-path locations to explore which are riddled with locked doors, traps, and puzzles similar to the temples in Zelda 2: The Adventure of Link. In addition to this new atmosphere, the other feature that this demo portion allows the player to experience is that of the animal transformations that will play a major role in the final build. Throughout the dungeon, the player can freely choose between being a Frog or a Pig.
The Frog transformation fights using a sword similarly to Monster Boy, but he gets the added benefit of having an elongated tongue which provides three different functions: it can be used to stun and repel enemies, it can be used to reflect incoming projectiles, and it can be used to grab golden ring protrusions. Grabbing a golden ring with either result in the Frog swinging from it through the air or pulling the connected block towards him, depending on the situation. At one point during the demo, the Frog gains access to a new sword which allows him to create ice platforms when swung within a waterfall. I hope that this means that there will be other pieces of equipment that will offer up additional platforming abilities.
The Pig transformation didn’t seem to bring anything particularly new to the table. Instead of attacking with a sword, he swung his fists and he happened to have more projectile items in his inventory which allowed for me to throw attack items at foes. However, I wouldn’t be particularly surprised if he eventually acquires upgrades that allow for him to take advantage of a more strength based playstyle such as pushing blocks or throwing enemies. Even still, I enjoyed my playtime using him both due to making use of his projectile attacks and his resemblance to the merchant of the original Dragon’s Trap. Who knows? Maybe this could mean a future ability to procure in-game shop discounts? Here’s to hoping!
Coming Soon to Transform Your Platforming
All in all, this demo experience absolved me of every worry that I came in with regarding what I was going to receive from this sequel title. I grew up a huge fan of Wonder Boy and The Dragon’s Trap along with his Turbografx 16 port: Dragon’s Curse. It’s hard to say what the final product will ultimately be but I can say that I will be there on release day, with bells on, to play what looks to be a splendid gaming experience!
Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom is coming to the Nintendo PlayStationystation 4 and Xbox One on November 6th, 2018.