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Wonder Boy (Sega Master System) artwork

Wonder Boy (Sega Master System) review

"Well, first I'll start off by saying that if you're a platformer fan, this is a definite must own. It started out in the arcade and then got ported to the Sega Master System. It later received several sequels which switched from sole platforming to more of an action RPG, which includes Wonder Boy 2 in Monster Land, Wonder Boy 3 The Dragonís Trap, Wonder Boy 3 Monster Lair (?!?! You can have 2 3ís?!?! shouldnít this be 4?), and Wonder Boy 4 in Monster World (?!?! Shouldnít this be 5?) I kind of w..."

Well, first I'll start off by saying that if you're a platformer fan, this is a definite must own. It started out in the arcade and then got ported to the Sega Master System. It later received several sequels which switched from sole platforming to more of an action RPG, which includes Wonder Boy 2 in Monster Land, Wonder Boy 3 The Dragonís Trap, Wonder Boy 3 Monster Lair (?!?! You can have 2 3ís?!?! shouldnít this be 4?), and Wonder Boy 4 in Monster World (?!?! Shouldnít this be 5?) I kind of wish they had made more platforming games similar to the first one before going into the monster titles like Adventure Island did, but hey, whatever.

Anyway, the story to the original Wonder Boy is simple. Wonder Boyís real name is Tom Tom, who is trying to rescue his girlfriend Tina who got kidnapped by the dark king Drancon. Thatís it. Pretty uninspired with no cutscenes at all, but this is exactly what I was expecting because itís basically a copy of the Super Mario Bros theme. The original Wonder Boy is the good old classic side scrolling jump and run formula while collecting fruit, dodging obstacles including rocks and boulders, and dodging and attacking enemies including snakes, bats, skulls, spiders, birds, frogs, and whales across 8 worlds with 4 levels each including caves, forests, skies, icelands, and a couple more. With your one and only weapon, a stone ax. There is 1 doll to collect in each level and if you collect them all, you will unlock worlds 9 and 10. These can be hard to grab if you donít want to make things too hard for yourself, but somehow I still managed to collect half of them and unlock world 9.

You have to collect fruit that randomly appears to stay alive because if you don't, your vitality will decrease rapidly and you'll die. So it's a game of speed and you constantly have to keep moving forward. You also collect it to gain a high score, but the problem with this is that if you lose all lives and continue, your score will reset and you'd have to try and beat it again. I think it should save and restore every time you continue, but I understand why it makes sense not to, so I guess I can't complain much about that.

I kind of wish there had been a wider variety of environments, but hey, the game still looks and plays great the way the backgrounds are, and changing and placement of enemies and obstacles makes it forgivable. They still managed to create a whole game out of it, so again I canít complain much about that because it would require the game to be and look completely different. This game requires patience, timing, and top notch mastery reflexes and platforming skills. You can run so quickly on many of the levels and then die because the placement of enemies or obstacles was thrown way off of and encountered too fast for your reaction time capacity. But if you go too slow and you don't have an ax, you will either lose vitality or even if you're ok, you could still accidentally hit a boulder or some creature, especially frogs. So the game requires you to memorize the pattern of oncoming enemies and obstacles so that you will learn and remember exactly what to expect and when exactly it will come across your path and what the correct speed to go at will be. This takes lots of practice with trial and error and consistency.

There are also eggs on the ground that you will open if you run right into them that either contain an axe or a skateboard, or a bad insect that will eat away your vitality. You can see which ones are bad because they are red and slightly cracked so you can jump over it and protect yourself from it. But sometimes you may be going so fast and are so focused on the game that you won't even notice the difference and will just unfortunately run into it.

Skateboards are used to run through the game faster. This can be both an advantage and a disadvantage. Going faster by riding can be good if you have sharp quick and accurate reflexes to the stimuli because you'll be flying through the level at high speed in a breeze. But if you don't, then you will probably easily fall off if you go fast because you can't stop on it, and you'll have to hold back the arrow to ride at a slower speed, which really to me doesn't seem any or much different than running without the skateboard.

Some of the frogs that move require you to just run straight through without stopping so that they can jump right over you. If you don't, it will hit you unless you learn how to jump over it, which in my opinion seems harder to do than in Adventure Island. But fortunately and unexpectedly, Wonder Boy is a lot easier than Adventure Island somehow. I don't know why. They said Adventure Island was a clone of Wonder Boy in regard to gameplay, but that seems to me to be a big fat lie. There are a lot less enemies and obstacles thrown into Wonder Boy than Adventure Island. I got through this game in 3 hours, and Adventure Island took me like 8 hours. Compared to Adventure Island, this game is nothing but a cakewalk, and once you memorize the patterns, thereís not much more challenge to overcome, and youíll be walking on water. And if I recall correctly, Adventure Island had no lava spitting volcanosÖ

The music in this game is the same 2 tracks over and over again. While they are lovable and a pleasure to listen to, it gets extremely repetitive with no variety, unlike Adventure Island. I was really upset with this, because I want some good music to keep me better involved and engaged, not the same one repeated throughout the whole game. The graphics however are so bright, vibrant, and colorful and looks so much better than Adventure Island. Like Sega actually cared about what they were doing because it looks superb and high quality.

Now the only thing that Wonder Boy makes me wonder is, if it has the better graphics, it should have also had the better music, and then Adventure Island also have the downgraded music that Wonder Boy has since Adventure Island has the downgraded graphics too. And also have Wonder Boy be the harder game and AI the easier one, since Wonder Boy is the original. If they had done that, it would have been for the better, and maybe I wouldnít have even played Adventure Island. On another note, perhaps Adventure Island shouldnít have even been made, which I will talk further about further into my review of that game.

The bosses are fun but easy as cake and thereís no weapons that the boss throws that you then use back against the boss to defeat him, which is a key vital element in any boss battle. Instead he throws fireballs and you have to dodge them and use your stone ax to defeat his head. While Iíd like to say I wish they were bigger, complex, and more challenging, I guess that would be unfair considering the fact that itís a solid old school 2D game and touching anything results in death. So you canít really expect them to be detailed. Their heads were artistic and creative and included a different and actually real creature or animal every time which made it look exciting and pleasing to the eye unlike AI which was literally the same head for every boss.

All in all, graphics 10, gameplay 10, music 5, story 2, total score 9 out of 10. If I had actually cared about the story in games, it would have been a 6.8 out of 10, but I really donít care about stories. Itís not a movie. Itís a game. I buy games to play them, not for the story. So Iím not going to factor in all 4 features for the final grade, and even if I did care, the story is such a small part of a game that I still donít think itís worth taking away from the overall grade. The story isnít the key element in a video game. Highly recommended for platformer fans, and itís really not that hard to beat. (This is my first review, so keep that in mind for any future reviews). If youíre more of a hardcore gamer and harsh critic though, it might seem too monotonous to hold your interest for more than 2 worlds, and you may be disappointed by the story, and you may want to pass up on this one and go for the sequels. Had it been harder, I might not be saying that.

Regardless, I myself am so happy that it was not so hard (unlike Adventure Island which had me off on an angry rage throughout most of the game), and that it was not too easy either. It made way for a wholesome weighed out balance in difficulty. This is a very underrated title that deserves more attention but sadly doesnít have it. I love this game because it's so awesome and Iím proud to have it be a part of my collection on the Wii Virtual Console.

Smiley_Face123's avatar
Community review by Smiley_Face123 (November 29, 2013)

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Please note that half of this review is going to be nearly identical to my review of Wonder Boy. Why you ask? Because they're the same game. That's right. Hudson Soft obtained the rights from developer Escape, now known as Westone Bit Entertainment, and changed the main character Tom Tom to Master Higgins and changed t...


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ThoughtFool1 posted November 30, 2013:

When comparing the graphics and music between Adventure Island and Wonder Boy remember that they came on two different systems with different hardware capabilities. Generally speaking, the NES had a better sound chip than the Master System (except for some of the Japanese Master Systems which had an upgraded sound chip), and the Master System had better graphical capabilities than the NES. This should help to explain why Wonder Boy had seemingly better graphics, but was worse sounding.

I haven't had a chance to play this game yet, but it is certainly on my "to play" list...given that you gave it such a high score, I can't wait!

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