Ah, Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom a game with a title that seems so out of place yet is the latest sequel of the Monster World series. I have recorded this series for Playing Games with Snat and I figured it was time to do a review on it. I am going to be talking about the version on the Playstation where the footage and screenshots have been taken and I am not going to talk about the fact this game is a rebranded Flying Hamster II – I am going to review it for the game it is.
The story, just like the whole of the Wonder Boy series, is very simple. You are a boy called Jin (no picking male or female in this game, something I will say is a shame nowadays) whose uncle Nabu seems to be drunk transforming everyone in the kingdom into animals – including Jin’s brother Zeke into a cute dragon.
With this in mind, Jin sets out to find out what has happened to his uncle, find out what the heck is going on and sort it out like the heroes before him.
Much of what I wrote about in Asha in Monster World applies to this game. It is a side-scrolling game where you are free to explore as much as you want with the world opening up as you gain new transformations and equipment to do such as the snake form to go through tiny holes, the lion to smash things open and the dragon to simply fly where you please.
The combat in the game is like the others in the series and is a hack-and-slash like a classic arcade game which as I wrote before I do enjoy. You have a whole range of equipment to help you which provides different upgrades such as freezing foes, double jumping and thankfully spells as well make a return such as a boomerang. You can also freely transform into different forms mid-fight which only really matters in the final fight. This is the same as it was in Wonder Boy III but without having to buy and equip a sword to do so as this time it is built right into the controls and can be used the second you unlock it.
Each transformation has its abilities and can gain a further one although like most games once you unlock the dragon you pretty much have little reason to use anything else unless the game forces you to do so – even the human form isn’t used outside of where you are forced to do so as flying is just way to much fun to pass upon.
There are also a bunch of unlockables in the form of music sheet and hearts which provides you access to an in-game music player and naturally more health should you collect the heart pieces. I will say I did love the throwback to Wonder Boy III when collecting one of the heart pieces although sadly that was done off-camera in Playing Games with Snat.
As I went into a tiny bit of detail before that upgradable equipment has returned. You can buy new equipment and then upgrade it at a blacksmith to provide extra abilities and there is a range of weapons as well that has different effects on what they do. To upgrade these weapons you need money and also gems that you find around the world as a reward for exploring which is something I felt was done very well.
Pepelogoo does make a return in this game and he is looking for a green-haired girl it is something I did not understand when I played it the first time as I never replayed Asha in Monster World until I did my blind recording and it is quite a nice touch to link them together although judging by the hidden ending I don’t think they met again.
In Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom, there is so much to do when it comes to exploring that I felt like I enjoyed every second of it. One of the things I miss in games is the feeling of finding new equipment, spell or transformation and then it opens up another section of an old area you have been and with that access to hidden goodies, you would otherwise have missed.
No section of the game is locked out for you at any point (beyond one bit near the end which is temporary) and it allows you to truly explore at your pleasure without the fear of missing out.
While there is no New Game+ you’ll return to the point of no return upon completing the game so you can go and finish collecting whatever you want to get.
Monster Boy in the Cursed Kingdom is a very cute game and I love the artwork although I do think it is better than the Wonder Boy III remake it is still wonderful as it is. Each form has lovely animation and design and the weapon and armour have their designs which can be seen during the game – something I always love when I see it.
One thing I did feel was lacking was interacting with the environment like Asha in Monster World did and while I think it is meant to be a throwback to how it was in the original style of games I would have much preferred to see it in the series move on with the interactions.
Still, the game is cute so nothing else to say there really.
If I could sum it up in a single word it would be wonderful but there is a catch. While I loved listening to the classic music tracks and loved it when they popped up I did enjoy the original tracks more but still, I enjoyed every track including the track that’s played when going to a certain settlement in the sky and I cracked up a bit when I heard it.
Overall I loved this game and I imagine it is one I will replay again in the future. The game isn’t that hard and it teaches you what to do (although as you will find in Playing Games with Snat that I am going to be naming it – Monster Boy in the Cursed Kingdom … but I suck – for a reason) and at no point does the game feel unfair to the player as often upgrading your equipment will be enough to figure things out but if you fuck up enough Zeke will help you out for that extra boost.
Overall give the game the following score and if you are a fan of this style of gameplay, I would recommend getting it as soon as you can.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
All images are taken from an unedited Playing Games with Snat series and captured using a PlayStation 5. The review is based on the PlayStation version of this game.
Need to reference?
Ellis, M. (2021). Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom: My Review. [online] Snat's Narratives & Tales. Available at: https://snat.co.uk/reviews/video-games/monster-boy-and-the-cursed-kingdom-my-review.html [Accessed 06 Dec 2023].
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