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A Wonderful Adventure

  • XBuster
  • 09/21/2017 03:31 AM
  • 1664 views


In times of recent, fan games have been on the rise. In particular for this review however, we will be focusing on no other than the classic Wonder Boy franchise. For those who are new, Wonder Boy was a 1986 classic arcade hit that was inspired by the famous Super Mario Bros. Later on in the franchise however, creator and director Ryuichi Nishizawa wanted to evolve the series into more of an RPG-esque game to give it more of an identity and was inspired by games such as Dragon Quest. Thus, Monster Land(now known as Monster World) was born. The Monster World series would span a total of 4 mainstream games with the final game in the spin-off series ending in 1994(that is until the 30th anniversary).

However, that did not stop Max Team as they have been working on a Monster World inspired RPG spanning over a decade in development. Was it worth the wait? Let’s find out. We will be visiting 5 points of the game in order of Story,Graphics,Music/Sound,Interaction,and Originality and grading the game as such. I’ll try to make this as short and sweet as I possibly can because there is so much good in this game as well as a few hiccups, but without further ado, let’s see what the game has to offer.


STORY:
As most classic Monster World games would begin, the world is in danger and is in need of a hero to save it. Sounds cliche right? Well, of course it is, but Monster World RPG does it in a sense that takes storytelling for these games to a new level. This game takes all of the characters, worlds, and other material and gives them all a fresh coat of paint. Gone are blank-slate, silent protagonists you once were and trades it in favor for something much more entertaining. The overall time period aspect is tossed aside and Max Team tries something bold and different by having the main character participate in scenarios that belong to other characters similar to Kingdom Hearts. Each character has a role regardless of who they were in previous entries. Even forms that belong to one person end up being their own entity.

You are Max, a typical hero type who is simply asked to watch over a friends’ house while he is away at the Castle for his Knight duties. From this point on, the game steadily picks up the pace as new scenarios as well as re-imagined scenarios from 6 games will make their way into this well written and lengthy campaign. Along the way, you will encounter a huge variety of Party Members and NPCs who all have their own stories, personalities, and last but not least, quests that will help you obtain items,information, and get stronger as the game progresses.

The game itself is divided into 4 large chapters that will bring you across 2 Kingdoms with over 50 locales including towns, dungeons, and secret areas. Most areas are re-imagined and updated versions of occurring areas in Monster World such as the Valley of Peace, Purapril Castle, and Mute Tower. The game itself has an astonishing remix of characters as even characters from obscure,cancelled, and ports make it in as well. Those of you familiar with SEGA lore and Wonder Boy will be extremely pleased with what kind of easter eggs are jam-packed into this game. There are even some nods to other projects in the game. I promised I would not spoil any important parts of the storyline, so I’ll leave that for players to experience for themselves.

The story has both light hearted and dark moments and is written to the point where I don’t even miss the way the characters used to be in previous entries.


No time for sleep Max! Adventure calls...or not



GRAPHICS AND VISUALS:
To put this simply. Monster World RPG is a gorgeous game. It takes the resources of the series and a few other franchises, and puts them to work. Lots of work was done to make this project look the way it does due to the fact that each and every tile had to be transformed from a side-scrolling 2D plane to a top-down view, and it is done incredibly well. At times, I got a Zelda:Link to the Past or Earthbound feel as these graphics are color-blasted and round. Some characters and monsters look just as goofy and appealing as ever before as there are things both new and old here.


The village of Xenobia


A sample of how characters were made. Some were too big and had to be shattered


Speaking of which, the amount of custom work done here is astounding. Not only are there returning NPCs and Monsters, but there are a wide variety of NPCs that I could immediately tell were not in the original games. Like any Monster World game, this entry does not disappoint in the graphic department as its backdrops, tiles, characters, and a variety of other things are bursting with rich colors and designs. Does that mean it’s perfect? No. There are some tiling issues here and there that could use some tweaking, but nothing that will take away from the already beautiful areas you will come across. The in-game movie sequences are also quite the treat as they make you feel like you’re on a grand and epic adventure. It also has completely custom face sets with several emotions for each main character and important NPC. Heck ,there are even face sets for characters even after they have evolved. On that note, we should get started on the real meat of the game.

Just a sample of the face sets


GAMEPLAY/INTERACTION:
Ok, here is where things get interesting. To put it simply, there is a wealth of content to sink your teeth into with Monster World RPG. This is classic Monster World gameplay, with some of the best systems from RPGs that we all know and love. The game includes, Dragon Quest-esque Casinos, Coliseums, mini games, puzzles, and a lot of platforming.You’ll find yourself hopping,dodging traps,climbing, and a variety of other things that keep mapping from being too repetitious. Monster World RPG takes the Metroidvania elements of Monster World 2 and 3, and uses it as its core design.

For example, in chapter 2, you are rescuing maidens from the initial antagonist; Drancon;the villain from the original Wonder Boy. As you rescue 2 of the 8 maidens, 2 more areas will open up to where the next 2 are being held. The world is pretty much open, but there will be limits to where you can go until you complete more of the story.

The main key feature used to get items and access new areas are “Genes”. Genes are a capsule you will receive from one of the heroes in the game that will allow you to perform their special moves. There are a total of 8 genes you can use; ranging from jumping up to hit a block(Mario-Style), climbing a checkered block, shrinking to fit in small spaces, and jumping between gaps in the mapping. The usage of these abilities are well-executed as you will see LOTS of these areas early in the game and wonder what what to do there. You’ll later obtain the gene and be rushing back to the areas you saw before, but could do nothing about. Exploration and freedom is a strong point in this game and it rewards you pleasantly for doing so. See a suspicious wall? Go up to it, because another thing Monster World is known for is hidden doors and pathways that disguise themselves as walls.

Not only that, but there are features you’ll have to work hard for in order to unlock and make your journey so much easier. For most of the game, you will be walking everywhere until you meet the Genie; Jann. Though Jann will not have any of his transporting abilities when you first get him, you can unlock them by solving puzzles and defeating the Genie in Temples. Who resides in there is a surprise for fans of lost content in the franchise.

Speaking of puzzles, this game is chock-full of them; consisting from simple switches, pushing blocks,Lost-Woods sequences,memorization, riddles, and quizzes. I felt right at home while digging into the wealth of challenges this game has to offer for your brain and some of them are bound to give you quite a chuckle. You’ll be wondering how to solve something, and begin to view things differently based on pictures, riddles, and attention to detail. The game reminds me a lot of Zelda and Lufia 2;which is a very good thing. Just make sure to carry a pen and pencil with some of the puzzles as you will most likely need them in some cases.

The battle system itself is common RPGMaker2k3 protocol. It features an ATB system that is most likely enjoyed more on WAIT mode for this particular game. The amount of items and equipment available are just right for a game such as this. The game encourages exploration over trying to beef up your party with levels. However, they do indeed help a bunch. I found myself to be pretty powerful even without a lot of the game’s equipment. On that topic, there are a total of 7 playable characters including Max and one of them has an ability that shocked me in a way I had not seen coming and fulfilled a dream I had after a scene in Chapter 2. Each party member will have the ability to evolve in this game. If you are a fan of Pokemon or Shining Force, you will like this because each party member will evolve.Every party member will evolve twice with the exception of Max and the character I mentioned earlier. Jann gains powers in a different matter as well.

Monster World RPG is full of mini games. This game has a very lengthy campaign of over 30 hours so it is only normal for you to want to stray from the main story to hit the Casino or fight a variety of cameo characters in the Coliseum. If you do decide to participate in the main story, some mini games will occur that require your full attention as some of them can lead to a game over. Saving is really important in this game as some sections can prove difficult to those who aren’t used to them yet. In some mini game scenes, you’ll be doing some crazy and fun things like dodging rocks in a mine cart,connecting circuits and even taking down ships in space.

Monster Racing? Hmmm...


Side Quests are also abundant as there are over 30 to complete and 1 of them is for the completionists out there who want to see everything. It is in your best interest to revisit areas very often if you want to get as much stuff as possible for your record book. The recording book in this game is known as the “Wonder Book” which will include everything you need to know about discoveries such as NPCs, monsters,current goals, sidequests and more.Simply opening and scrolling through the Wonder Book when I first got it gave me a sense of excitement as there are so many question marks in it, you'll begin to wonder and get a feel for the content this game has to offer and its a lot. Monster World RPG does a great job of keeping the player informed and not once did I find myself to be completely lost or clueless of what to do as far as the main storyline goes. Even after the game is done, there is a post-game area that I will not spoil.

Its hard to get lost with such a detailed and well informed Journal



MUSIC AND SOUND:
The Monster World games were always full of catchy tunes.Not only that, but there are some good cameo choices of music such as the Ship theme from Wario Land 1&2. I felt right at home while playing through the game listening to the tracks it had to offer. I noticed several tunes from the history and even the menu themes from the PSN/XBL Monster World Compilation. As far as sound effects go, there are some sound effects I found to be a bit off putting, the main one being the monster death sound. I know exactly where the sound is from, and it can be annoying if multiple monsters are killed at once. Something much quicker should be more efficient, but that’s more of a nitpick than something that is game-breaking or taking away from the game score…

ORIGINALITY:
This is the final aspect being graded as it is one that has mixed feelings, but its more positive than negative. With that said, the game itself is about 50% Rehash, and 50% Original. A perfect blend of nostalgia and totally original lore and content that make this a must have title for Wonder Boy fans and fans of good RPGs. Whether you are a veteran or a newcomer, this game will keep you occupied for hours on end and you’ll want to come back for more, searching areas you’ve unlocked and discovering secrets that get you one step closer to being the hero you want to be. How you play the game is up to you as the more you explore and expand the story, the more free and open the game becomes.

As the main game scenarios are rehashed, there is a wealth of originality decorated around it that it becomes a brand new experience overall. When comparing Monster World RPG to previous entries, I almost don’t want to go back to them story-wise because this game develops Monster World on a much greater level than the originals and throws in so many twists and turns, that it makes the original stories pale in comparison.

The custom systems programmed into the game are fantastic and it allows lots of possibilities for combat and carries a lot of popular RPG tropes within them. In terms of originality, this lies directly in the middle, but the expansion on characters that even had a couple lines or were minor in the originals speaks volumes about this project.


THE VERDICT:
Monster World RPG is a game that took lots of research, love, passion, and hard work to create as it started way back in the early 2000s and finally coming into fruition in 2017. This is a game by the fans for the fans and no I’m not speaking from nostalgia as I say this, but I have to say it. MWRPG is an absolute classic and it without a doubt lived up to the originals and impressed me that there are more crazy fans out there willing to make ambitious projects such as this.

The game is addictive, funny,lighthearted,heartwarming,sometimes corny,and at some times dark. Not only is this one of the best Monster World games and RPG Maker games, but one of the best fan games ever made,period. Simply put, this is a MUST HAVE for Wonder Boy/MW fans. For those who are looking for a new game to pick up on a rainy day(or week) or want to sink your teeth into a good RPG, Monster World RPG is the game for you, so give it a shot, you’ll be glad you did.

PROS:
  • Nostalgia mixed with originality

  • Well written story/dialogue

  • Addictive,Metroidvania style gameplay

  • Likeable and varied cast of characters

  • Wealth of content including side quests,treasure hunting,mini games,etc.

  • A lengthy 30+Hour experience

  • Clever Puzzle solving and riddles

  • Delivers the feeling of getting stronger very well

  • Fun platformer elements

  • Constant change in scenery keeps it from getting stale

  • Exploration and curiosity rewards you

  • Well-designed cut scenes

  • A large world full of variety

  • Complex custom systems

  • Designed by the fans, for the fans

  • Freedom allows you to choose your path often

  • Beautiful custom and ripped graphics

  • Keeps you informed on the game world

  • Cameos and references that will surprise fans of both Wonder Boy and SEGA lore

  • Several past Monster World scenarios combined into one adventure

  • Fun development mechanics

  • Generous save and heal points

  • Characters can evolve

  • Well-drawn face sets

  • Post game content

  • Wealth of attacks and magic

  • Original usage of characters

  • Good dungeon design


CONS:
  • Certain maps could use a touch up

  • A handful of grammatical errors

  • Random encounters in puzzle-heavy rooms can be annoying

  • A bit of a rehash

  • Gene switching can be tedious after a while

  • Plot can be very predictable at times

  • Some tricky puzzles that will most likely require a pen and paper(or even the internet) to solve

  • Most Bosses can be defeated with the same strategy

  • Difficulty imbalances

  • Encounter rates come to the point where you fight so much,you may be overpowered and running in almost all instances


RATING:

Story:4
Graphics and Visuals:4
Music and Sound:5
Gameplay/Interaction:5
Originality:3

Completion Time:30-40 Hours
Challenge:Easy-Hard


Score:4/5 Good
IIIII
A solid and well deserved score for a fan game that once again proves that fans are where the love is and does a huge iron fist of justice for the series as a whole. There were a few hiccups here and there that can be tweaked in later releases, but none of them greatly took away from the experience I was having. 2017 is a great year to be a Wonder Boy fan, and this game is one of the reasons why.

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You are very welcome. I hope others who will or have downloaded will enjoy it just as much as I did. Veterans will love it, and newcomers will be introduced into something completely brand new to them. I do want to add an interview soon as well. Hopefully, you'll be able to participate. Cheers!
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