Review: Wonder Boy (Retro)
- Release Date (NA): March 22, 1987
- Release Date (EU): March 22, 1987
- Release Date (JP): March 22, 1987
- Publisher: Sega
- Developer: Westone
- Genres: Action Platformer
- ESRB Rating: Everyone
- PEGI Rating: Three years and older
- Also For: Computer, Nintendo Wii
Single playerLocal MultiplayerOnline MultiplayerCo-operative
Ever played a game with a cave man? Well here is one of them... as a boy.
If you remember playing a game where a skateboarding caveman must rescue his girlfriend, by throwing stone hatchets at everything, you probably played Adventure Island. Well... this is not that game. Okay it is, the exact same game, it plays exactly the same but it's just modified to for the sake of legal problems. I'm talking about Wonder Boy! This is the first game and it is owned by Sega, they owned the rights to that game but none of the games development data, so the developers Westone rebranded a duplication of this game on to the NES and Hudson Soft published it. So if you played one, you played both, only difference is the graphics, music, and names of characters. The game play is exactly the same. So I'm gonna show you what the less popular game is about.
Let's start with the elephant in the room... anyone notice what i'm talking about? Here is a hint, it's black and surrounds the screen, it's the border. My god, what the heck is this? They couldn't fix the game screen to properly match the output resolution? Anyway besides that, the game has some bright and colorful places. Since you are a cave man, you'll probably think you are on some island.... with caves and stuff. (No stereotype implied) Well yeah that's where this game takes place. You got a forest, a beach, various caves and ancient ruins, not to mention volcanoes. It's not bad but very repetitive, especially a game with 36 levels. Still the nice colorful graphics is appealing.
Umm... okay, well this is nothing special to talk about. It's very basic indeed. Okay the title screen is nice, but everything else is as basic as it comes, think about it as very early arcade games, and this was 1986, games before this had good presentation, but this is a huge disappointment. Honestly, there is nothing more to say here besides the story. "Caveboy Tom Tom must rescue his CaveGirl Tanya from the evil King Drancon." There, that is all there is to this. Guess we will move on.
Now this is another kind of disappointment. It has very few songs, less than ten. The main problem is that one is overly used repetitively, that itself is not a good sign. Time to learn a lesson, it doesn't matter if your song is good, it's always recommended to exercise variety. The odd thing about it is that the first song in the game (after the title screen) sounds familiar, you know the jingle you hear in Super Mario Bros. when you get the power star? Imagine the composition except using completely different audio. There is only fours songs you hear when playing the actual game, a bonus stage song, a invincibility song, and boss music, the rest are just jingles. Due to how they are composed, it can be really annoying fast, not only are there isn't enough music variety but the songs themself are hardly any variety. You'll be glad to know that the Adventure Island counterpart does music much better.
Well this is the icing on the cake, remember as I already said, if you played this or Adventure Island, then you played them both. They play exactly the same except for the graphics and music. So I'm practically "Killing two birds with one stone" huh? This game takes inspiration from Super Mario Bros. It's a standard action platformer, with some distinguishing difference. First is the timer, most games have standard timers that count down to your death, but in this game you have some type of stamina bar that depletes unless you collect fruits you find in the level.
Next is the enemies, you don't jump on enemies to defeat them like Mario, you instead throw stone axes at them you can find in eggs laying on the ground.... I couldn't make this up if I tried. Let's talk about this egg thing a bit more, you can also find a skateboard inside one as well that makes you go faster. Also unless you have that, it's the only way to survive taking damage in the game. That's right, without the skateboard, it's one hit deaths. Other things you can find in eggs are a fairy that gives you invincibility, a container of milk that fills your stamina, and other items that just gives you bonus points. There is also a read spotted egg that gives you a reaoer that drains your stamina rapidly and slows down the music tempo. The kind of stuff you find inside eggs randomly laying on the ground on a island is amazing... for this game.
The thing about this game is that you probably won't find it hard. It's just like Super Mario Bros. You have unlimited continues so you don't have to start over whenever you lose all your lives. (Finally someone does it right.) There is three checkpoints in each stage, and three lives each continue. Just like Super Mario, there is a total of thirty-two stages in the game, each is broken into four sets with the fourth serving as the boss stage. If you collect all the dolls in each stage, you can access a ninth zone adding the total to thirty six stages. Oddly enough, each boss has the same body but different head, you have to strike the head a number of times to win, each time you beat a boss, the next one requires two extra hits next time you face them which makes each one longer and more difficult to survive.
Like I said, this game is very similar to Super Mario Bros. so you'll probably play it out of curiosity, if you want to enjoy the game, the Adventure Island one on NES would be preferred cause is more refined. You may be thinking by now "why not just review Adventure Island?" well I wanted to highlight the game that caused the start of such a great thing. Alternatively, there is a enhanced version of this game on steam for download by a different developer that may be even better. Now there is other games in both Wonder Boy and Adventure Island series that is great and makes them unique and not play too much alike, but that may be discussed in later reviews. For now, just take time to appreciate this game being responsible for two separate series of good games by the same developer.
+ Nice and colorful graphics
+ Arcade port with unlimited continues.
- Awkward Resolution
- Music Lacks Variety
- Tried to Copy Super Mario Bros.
As much as I think the colors are bright and nice looking, it's too repetitive for it to stand out as much as most people would like. There isn't really much to say about it beyond this.
This just seem like a clone of Super Mario bros. made for Sega platform to avoid any legal problems while trying to take some part in the popularity that game had at the time. There could have been lots more work done for this but to me serves just as alternative.
This isn't easy to determine, since Super Mario Bros is more popular than this game specifically, it wouldn't have as much appeal for that reason, but granted that it did make more games in this series that was more appealing and less like a clone, that really helped make a following for itself. This game specifically is mostly a curious case, only played out of curiosity.
out of 10
(not an average)
While this isn't a bad game, is not a great game, and yes it was released just a year after Super Mario Bros. on NES, but if the goal was to make a game similar to a popular one, then you can least try to make more changes to improve it. I dunno what the goal is here, but it's feels too average for what it's worth.