Wonder Boy Collection certainly collects some Wonder Boy
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It’s got Wonder Boy games in it, that’s for sure.
This is a digital compilation featuring four games. Namely, Wonder Boy (Arcade), Wonder Boy in Monster Land (Arcade), Wonder Boy in Monster World (Mega Drive) and Monster World IV (Mega Drive). And, well, it’s an option, if you’re not really all that bothered about Wonder Boy, I suppose. I mean, let’s be fair – how can I talk about this compilation without addressing the Wonder Elephant in the Wonder Room? There’s a much better, much more complete version in Wonder Boy Anniversary Collection coming up from publisher Strictly Limited, and that one seems to be packing almost every single game in the entire series. In fact, I think it is every game in the entire series, if not all the different variations. And that’s not this, of course.
What we have here is… dare I say it? A more casual selection. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course, but it does mean you don’t get Wonder Boy III: The Dragon’s Trap, probably the most popular game in the series (Monster World IV possibly excepted). Dragon’s Trap ain’t my fave by any means, but if I were compiling Wonder Boy titles you can bet your bollocks that I’d include it. Still, like I said, a casual selection stil deserves examination, but I do find myself wondering who exactly this product is actually for. Casual fans would still want Wonder Boy III: Monster Lair and the aforementioned Dragon’s Trap to make it, you know, complete. All those extra Sega Mark III versions, etc, coming in the bigger package, maybe those are not quite so necessary. But this won’t please casual fans and it certainly won’t please completists.
Still! What we’ve got here is good! These are good games! I’ve never really put a huge amount of time into Monster World IV, but it’s highly acclaimed and I’ve been meaning to do so following my enjoyment of Asha in Monster World, The original Wonder Boy is a daft laugh, and triggers thoughts of the ridiculous web of sequels and tie-ins of the Adventure Island series. I’m also very, very fond of Monster Land, but mostly the Master System version (which is on the big boy collection) – it’s a tremendously fun game and blisteringly unfair at times, which is part of the charm. Included rewind/save state options mitigate this, and for once I’d recommend using them.
The Mega Drive’s Wonder Boy in Monster World initially seems like a loose remake of its predecessor, but it ultimately delivers a compelling and new adventure to enjoy. It feels a lot more complete and balanced than Monster Land without sacrificing the charm or the level design chops. It’s still just an amuse-bouche, though, for Monster World IV, fairly understandably and relatively deservedly the most beloved game in the series (though I believe some of that love came from its former scarcity).
All in all, yes, this is a fine package and it contains good games. However, it does not contain enough games, missing a handful of crucial entries that the upcoming physical Anniversary Collection will be packing. So… you might just want to order that. This, though, is definitely A Good Time.