Review Information
Reviewer Name: EpiclyUnepic
Reviewer Email: epiclyunepic@gmail.com
Game Difficulty: Medium
Difficulty Options: False
Game Information
Full Title: Wonder Boy in Monster Land
Year Released: 1988
Game Type: Platform
Max Players: 1
Introduction


Ah Wonder Boy. My first real Master System game. Your creepy and almost scary looking box art holds a special place in my heart now. I both hate and love you. Seanius raves about this game so it was only natural that it be the first MS game I pick up. Well let's see how it played...
Gameplay
Taking place 11 years after the original Wonder Boy, the main character "Tom-Tom" as his friends call him, is now a teenager. After a long while of peace, the land was taken over by a jackass dragon guy. So you set off in search of the dragon, talking to various inhabitants of Monster Land, gaining clues, and powering up

To start, this game is vastly different than its predecesor. The only thing that really is the same is a time limit. Every 60? seconds or so you lose a heart. This is probably the worst thing ever in a video game and frustrates to no end. For new-comers this is your biggest enemy in the game. Once youve gone through the game 50 times it doesn't really effect you until the last level, but more on that later

You quickly gain a sword from an ugly guy in a hut and fight a good range of monsters throughout the game. Theres armor and weapon upgrades within the game. You really have to pick and choose to get the best combination and time frame to buy these upgrades. Multiple play throughs will eventually let you find the proper order and combination. Theres boots to make you run faster and jump higher, armor to give you higher defense, shields to block enemy projectiles, and various swords. All but the swords can be bought periodically in stores, the swords however are dropped from bonus bosses. They're optional but needed if you want to beat the game really.

There are 12 stages, most have a pattern of going through various sections and ending up at a boss who drops a key to exit the level. The last level however is a maze and is quite evil. This is where the time limit really comes into place and annoys the living shit out of you. This makes the game much harder than it should be, but it's still quite possible and just requires a lot of practice. That being said, this game involves a lot of trial and error. Each play-through you learn something to help you better on your next run. Every single time. There are tons of hidden spots for cash which is quite needed to buy important upgrades. It will take a lot of play-throughs to find all these spots. It takes a lot to master this game, but eventually you get to a point where you can get to level 12 every time in a good position.

This game is actually loads of fun, even through monumental amounts of frustration. It's very rewarding when you find out what to do and progress farther. It's hard to really describe the difficulty of this game due to the trial-and-error type of play. While the first 11 levels seem quite easy to me, a first time player would be like, "are you kidding me? This is impossible." This game takes a lot of practice, but your feel awesome after successfully overcoming the levels in the game. The only problem is it can become tedious playing through the game to make it to the last level, only to be panic immensely during the maze and last boss. Believe me this WILL happen.

There are a few issues with the game however from a technical standpoint. The first being if you pause the game for too long, the system resets itself. I'm not sure if the Master System does this for every game, or if its just Monster Land, but it is quite annoying. Two other huge issues i had were hit detection, and becoming invisible when i get hit. Sometimes i wonder what the hell is going on when my knife is clearly in a monsters face and it does no damage. This happens too often and i find myself getting too close to an enemy just to hit them and i get hit in the process. Your sword feels too short! When you do get hit, you turn invisible for a couple seconds and this can be extremely frustrating as you cant see where you are. You'll fall into lots of lava pits this way, or find yourself inside a boss and get hit again. It also makes it next to impossible to hit a monster while being invisible like this. These are small gripes however, and only increased because of frustration from other things in the game.
Graphics
Wonder Boy is quite colourful and happy all around. Some cave and castle levels feel a bit recycled but other than that each stage is different and well designed. (Except that last level!) Most of everything is clear and you can tell what they are right away. It stands up for its time and while not a showcase for the Master System in terms of graphics, it holds its own. Athough still cutesy still, it does feel a bit more mature than the first Wonder Boy. In the first game it was all very happy-go-lucky. In Monster Land theres a sense of impending doom somehow. It all feels a bit darker, and thats partially because of the graphical style. It's still bright and happy looking but.. compare the two anyway.
Sound & Music
The music in Wonder Boy in Monster Land is fairly enjoyable. I've listened to it around 50 times and I'm definitely not sick of it so thats something. A few tunes are quite catchy, and the last level song is pretty cool. Although i'm wondering if the main song could of sounded a bit more epic than "happy", as it is a pretty epic adventure! The sound effects are the same way, nothing fantastic but nowhere near annoying. The sound is a huge pointer in various ways, like what item has dropped, if you hit an enemy, if you lost a heart due to time, if you gained a bonus heart and so on. Theres a sound hint for everything and helps a lot.
Controls
The controls are pretty good. Sometimes you feel sluggish but thats the game mechanic anyway. I have some problems with jumping and stabbing things, but thats partially because my controllers are a little off. That story is in another article. Having the pause button on the system is a serious design flaw in the system itself, and CAN effect gameplay in Wonder Boy; but that is not a problem with the actual game obviously.
Replay Value
Scores
Gameplay
Graphics
Music & Sound
Controls
Replay Value
Multiple playthroughs can result in finding other hidden coins, and help you to gain the best armour in the game. While the game is certainly fun, there isn't really that much worthwhile to go back to this game for, other than nostalgia or some such. Once youve beaten it, you've beaten it. Unless you want to get a better score or something...
Conclusion
While not the best in the series, I doubt it can be said it's the worst like a comment i saw on some forum. Some have said its the "black sheep" of the series, ala Zelda 2 and Simon's Quest; but like them it's still a fun game in itself. Throughout the challenge and frustration, i still had lots of fun. It's rare I go through a game that many times to beat it, and Wonder Boy is one of those few.
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