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Monster World IV (Genesis) artwork

Monster World IV (Genesis) review


"It all started when Bocke Lee Temjin entered the Oracle’s hut and received the Elixir and the sword Gradius. This was our first act of rebellion against the extraterrestrial threat that had targeted Monster World for,… well, who knows what. Bocke would only get as far as the Mechanical Dragon, a mere agent of the alien forces. The real culprits would safely escape in their flying saucers. Centuries later, Shion would start a quest that would bring him face to face with the cryptic antagonist tha..."



It all started when Bocke Lee Temjin entered the Oracle’s hut and received the Elixir and the sword Gradius. This was our first act of rebellion against the extraterrestrial threat that had targeted Monster World for,… well, who knows what. Bocke would only get as far as the Mechanical Dragon, a mere agent of the alien forces. The real culprits would safely escape in their flying saucers. Centuries later, Shion would start a quest that would bring him face to face with the cryptic antagonist that we had only glimpsed in the ending of the original “Monster Land”. It was called ‘BioMeka’, and it would live to fight another day,… but when?

Here is “Monster World IV” to answer that question. It places us in the role of Asha, a young lady who has green hair and wears “Aladdin” pants. So much time has passed since “Wonder Boy in Monster World” (AKA "Monster World III") that some sort of geographical shift has made the former site of the Purapril kingdom a desert, and where Maugham Desert and its pyramid once stood is a snowfield. The new center of Monster World society is Rapadagna, an Arabic kingdom ruled by a distant descendant of the Purapril family. Her domain is about to fall victim to a threat so subversive, even her royal blood isn’t safe from its corruptive touch. Prepare to shit bricks.

The tradition of hacking and slashing and platforming is carried over from previous games. Once again there are goofy beasties that drop loot like pińatas, with the same cheery sound effects that have defined this series from the start. Once again, we work our way from our measly starting equipment to the more-elusive-than-usual Legendary gear. One deviation is that the hidden loot “spawn points” are gone, with coins instead scattered across worlds like in Super Mario. Another: Asha’s quest brings the game structure full circle, forgoing the open-ended exploration of the second and third “Monster World” titles for something not unlike the linearity of the original. You’re still free to explore a “hub world” in between the five main levels, perhaps one of the earliest examples of such a feature in gaming.

I would be remiss if I didn’t shine some of the spotlight on Pepe, a floating blob-like creature that is as cute as it is enigmatic. It is one of the Pepelogoos, a new breed of creatures that define the Monster World landscape in a way that is both intriguing and vaguely unsettling. All are yellow except for Pepe, who's fur is a nice aqueous blue. You will grow to like him as he assists you in performing double-jumps and gliding across long gaps, among other useful functions.

Each stop in our Wonder Lady’s quest is distinct. First there is the Mute Tower, an ancient structure of gears and turbines that we summon from the Earth with the Gall Orb. Handera Volcano is our first joint adventure with the indispensable Pepe, who plugs up fiery geysers and shields us from raining lava. He's so nifty, that Pepe. Then there's the Stream Sanctuary, a labyrinth of water and pipes that recalls Hydro City Zone from “Sonic 3”; some parts of this level suggest hints of a crumbling ancient structure, perhaps a defunct sewer or maybe the Shrine of Poseidon from the previous game. Each place has a distinct musical track, but like “Shinobi III” there are recurring themes that tie everything together, always pointing to the greater adventure.

“Monster World IV” strikes a right balance between easy-going exploration and tricky platforming. Everything builds, from our straight-forward orientation at Mute Tower to the head-scratching riddles of the Ice Pyramid, 'til we finally arrive at the tricky conveyor belts and mechanical perils of Aegis Island. The bosses aren’t particularly difficult, but they work as a sensational climax to an arduous trek. One memorable encounter has you shrunken to the size of a mouse, a giant ooze creature towering over you; eventually, you get to turn the tables by reverting to your regular size.

The overall duration of play is about the same as the other games in the series, but I've found myself easily revisiting this adventure time after time. At first it was because I wanted to meet the elusive goal of collecting all 150 Life Drops, to have a complete blue heart count of fifteen; but when all that is said and done, MW4 remains a rich platformer/adventure game that's a treat to revisit for its own sake. Unfortunately, it’s also beyond the reach of non-Japanese territories, where it’s never gotten an official release. Importers will need a walkthrough or knowledge of the game’s native language to get through the traditional Monster World Sphinx quiz; beyond that, not much literacy is required.

It's worth the effort.

Rating: 10/10

joseph_valencia's avatar
Community review by joseph_valencia (October 31, 2009)

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