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Wonder Boy Collection Review (Switch)


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Captured on Nintendo Swap (Docked)

Marvel Boy has a convoluted gaming lineage. Initially a platform arcade sport that includes a squat caveman-boy in a grass skirt, and developed by Westone (then Escape) for Sega, the sequels rapidly splintered off into motion role-playing territory. Oddly, there are two chronological entries for Marvel Boy III — Monster Lair (initially an arcade title), and The Dragon’s Entice (initially for the Grasp System). Compounding the perplexity, the fifth sport within the Monster World sequence is named Marvel Boy V: Monster World III in Japan, initially launched for the Mega Drive. From there, Monster World VI, the sixth entry, was the 16-bit period’s swan music and wasn’t adopted up till Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom landed on Nintendo Swap in 2018.

Confused? Let’s proceed. Hudson Gentle licensed the Marvel Boy IP in 1986, however as a result of Westone had already bought the rights to the identify and character to Sega, they renamed their model “Journey Island”, retaining the identical gameplay construction as the unique arcade sport, whereas branching out into a brand new platform sequence for the NES, Sport Boy, and Tremendous Nintendo. Right here, the protagonist was remodelled to resemble well-known ’80s Hudson Gentle government, Takahashi Meijin.

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Captured on Nintendo Swap (Handheld/Undocked)

The Marvel Boy Assortment, then, handpicks 4 notable entries in Westone’s authentic sequence: Marvel Boy (arcade), Marvel Boy in Monster Land (arcade), Marvel Boy in Monster World (Mega Drive) and the attractive Monster World IV (Mega Drive). In case you’re shopping for the Collector’s Version bodily by way of Strictly Restricted Video games, Marvel Boy III: Monster Lair and the very good Marvel Boy III: The Dragon’s Entice, are included. Annoyingly, we received’t be these at this time.

The unique arcade Marvel Boy is a implausible sport, and don’t let anybody let you know in any other case. You steer Tom-Tom by way of enemy-filled seas, jungles and caves, till he’s reunited together with his girlfriend Tanya. Inordinately lengthy for an arcade sport, a full clear goes to take an hour solely when you’ve got it completely mastered. The sport’s genius is in the way in which fruit seems and its requirement for staying alive, pressuring the participant to leap for it whereas exactingly traversing platform-littered terrain. You’ll be able to seize skateboards and throwing axes to swat issues from afar, and studying to run flat-out whereas negotiating strings of obstacles is nice enjoyable. It’s precision heavy, robust however honest with tight controls, and deserves its historic dues. And, if nothing else, its theme tune will burn proper into your mind and by no means, ever depart you. For many who dwelled in arcades of the ’80s, it’s pure nostalgic dynamite.

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Captured on Nintendo Swap (Docked)

Marvel Boy in Monster Land, the sequel, adjustments the format to a side-on motion, role-playing take. Marvel Boy now appears to be like like a cherub in a nappy, however that doesn’t cease varied enterprise retailers attempting to promote him beer and cocktails, usually in alternate for terrible recommendation like “I believe there’s a retailer that sells armour”. Toddling by way of phases together with your sword and protect and uncovering secrets and techniques, you vanquish enemies for money after which level-up by buying gadgets. It was daring for Westone to modify to a role-playing lean again on the planet of 1987’s arcades, however it works. It’s a tad dated now — arguably extra so than its predecessor — however beneath its visible simplicity is a well-thought-out title.

Marvel Boy in Monster World was the primary bespoke entry for the Mega Drive, and it’s a magnificence. In addition to being visually engaging, with beautiful dithered painted backdrops, it’s additionally a plucky, upbeat journey with transitory role-playing components. Huge bosses, loads of places, and a pleasant sense of journey are solely marginally dented by some relatively abstruse targets proper on the finish, the place all of it will get barely sci-fi. On the entire, although, Monster World is an enthralling sport that may supply first-timers three to 4 hours of sword-swatting, protagonist-bolstering motion. Whereas it’s exhibiting its age a bit by way of depth, it stays a deserved spotlight of Westone’s sequence.

Monster World IV, the ultimate entry within the assortment, is the jewel within the crown. Extortionately costly on the Mega Drive’s after-market owing to its Japan-only launch, it additionally appeared absolutely translated on the Wii Digital Console. Taking out the male lead, Westone bought inventive right here, transposing the normal fantasy world of demons and dragons for an Arabian-inspired fictional universe. Right here, Asha, a green-haired lady with a world to avoid wasting, strikes with velocity and function, hopping, leaping and slashing by way of superbly rendered landscapes, glowing with color, motion and character. The dungeons and accompanying puzzles are compelling due to the intelligent implementation of her pet, a small blue beast referred to as ‘Pepelogoo’ who helps her overcome obstacles and bridge gaps with ever-evolving attributes. Whereas it follows the fundamental construction of its motion role-playing predecessors, there’s a degree of pastel-shaded charisma that goes past what got here earlier than. Its music, wonderful aesthetic, large bosses, and the exacting design of its phases make it a pleasure to play.

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Captured on Nintendo Swap (Handheld/Undocked)

None of what’s on supply within the Marvel Boy Assortment is missing in high quality, though the enchantment of the video games will fluctuate primarily based on style. Whereas the unique Marvel Boy is a traditional all its personal, the opposite three titles are extra straight associated, and there’s an arc by way of accessibility and enjoyability. That’s to not detract from any particular person sport: all are adequate to work by way of, and people experiencing them for the primary time could have a blast.

The onus right here is much less on the titles themselves, and extra on the bundle’s presentation. The menus are vibrant and serviceable, every sport displayed on a placard with a paragraph of historic info. From what we will glean, emulation accuracy appears spot on, working easily, and on the right speeds. It can save you-state at any level, which means you’ll be able to drop out and in freely, and for those who’re an absolute dishonest git, you’ll be able to rewind the motion utilizing the shoulder buttons to convey your self again from loss of life within the blink of a watch.

The show choices are thorough, permitting quite a lot of changes and picture tweaks, with ratio settings for scanlines, sharpness, display screen curvature and shadow masks, all with a helpful preview choice by way of the ‘ZR’ button. Nevertheless, completely different video games react otherwise to those settings.

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Captured on Nintendo Swap (Handheld/Undocked)

With the CRT filter utilized, the unique arcade Marvel Boy shows sharp even on a 55” display screen. The Mega Drive titles, nevertheless, appear to use bilinear smoothing the second the filter is switched on, and no quantity of tweaking is ready to do away with it. Even with scanlines and the masks filter set to zero, it stays barely blurry till completely deactivated.

What irks, actually, isn’t what’s within the bundle, however what isn’t. The Dragon’s Entice, specifically, is likely one of the greatest titles Westone produced, and superior to Marvel Boy II. Proscribing it to a purposely finite Strictly Restricted Video games bodily launch leaves a foul style within the mouth. These are video games courting again virtually 40 years, and likelihood is you both personal them already or have performed them to loss of life throughout varied platforms or emulators. It’s completely possible on current-gen {hardware} to incorporate each Marvel Boy title, on each platform, with each area variation, relatively than limiting the usual manufacturing to a properly curated however considerably meagre number of 4.


Scoring the Marvel Boy Assortment is simply partly associated to the standard of the video games on supply. They’re all glorious for what they’re, and have been they appraised independently, would do very properly. However that is extra concerning the bundle as an entire. Sure, there’s lots right here to maintain you occupied, however on the similar time, what may have been is a sticking level. Marvel Boy is a superb little sequence, with video games spanning every part from the Grasp System to the PC Engine, in varied guises. It’s not troublesome to supply a extra in depth library for the broader gaming populace, relatively than limit sure titles to a gaggle profiled for his or her magpie eyes.

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