Asha in Monster World is one of the two Wonder Boy games I have not played and when my brother saw it on the Playstation Store it was decided right then that we had to buy it but I also thought that it would be a good idea to do a blind run of this game for Playing Games with Snat and as of the publishing of this review I have recorded everything but have yet to publish it.
Furthermore, as a disclaimer for this review, I do have very high expectations of the game due to the original Wonder Boy series and their remakes and Monster Boy so while I may sound harsh it may not be bad.
So the story behind Wonder Boy tends to be simple and Asha in Monster World is no different. The young green-haired girl is called Asha and comes across as a nomad who is sensitive to the presence of spirits it is these spirits that ask her to save them and during this time we set out to become a warrior and save them … although there seems something weird about the Queen.
The gameplay for Asha in Monster World is the same as the other games in the Monster World series but with a few minor differences which could be a game-changer depending on how you see it.
The combat is a side scroller just like the others and you can hack and slash away to your heart is content and when it comes to that part it is fun. I always do enjoy an arcade feel when it comes to games like this where you can pick it up and play for a bit overall the combat wasn’t too difficult and after a couple of tries the boss’s pattern became quite clear but importantly those fights were fun.
While the combat is fun there are two things I found disappointing and that is the lack of transformations and the usage of items. I can forgive the transformation as really that is only a stable in two of the games compared to how many there are but seriously no boomerang? No thunder spell? No fire? You do get access to bombs that are used for progression and you do get some other story items but the lack of usable items just rubs me the wrong way and is something I did miss.
Just like in the other games in the series, you can buy upgradable equipment but they don’t provide additional upgrades outside of extra HP (which can be found with the blue heart pieces) while the weapons provide extra damage but that is it.
With that said the game does add a new feature, or at least a feature I assume came in first (I played Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom before this one) and that is the little cute Pepelogoo. Pepelogoo helps out Asha but allowing new movement, affecting the environment and more and I won’t lie I was saddened for a bit with the ending and then when I re-played Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom for Playing Games with Snat and got the hidden end I felt even sadder and it is quite surprising for a game to do that.
Oh, and I had to load up a ROM of the original game to check and I was right, the Sage that you find around the place was to save the game originally.
I would like to stress before I carry out that I did enjoy Asha in Monster World and I do wish I played the original when it came out but I do not think it is one I will play again compared to the others.
The overall world feels far more like an arcade game where you are unable to go backwards (so much like Wonder Boy 2) and after you complete a section of the game and free a spirit you are unable to return. This means you are unable to get any items you missed such as a heart piece which is a bit disappointing as I do enjoy completing the story as much as I can and then going back to get everything I missed.
This also has a knock-on effect in that it doesn’t feel like you are exploring the world as much. At no point in the game will you gain access to a new skill or a new weapon or item that will allow you to go backwards and find something cool that otherwise would be missed or a new dungeon opens up. It makes the world feels static and much like you are just completing the next level rather than exploring the world.
While I much prefer the graphics in Wonder Boy III and Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom, everything regarding the graphics in this remake is cute, adorable and outright lovely to the point that although I do comment about it during Playing Games with Snat I do love the graphics.
One thing I did not notice, and assuming not so, was none of the equipment had their model when equipped excluding maybe the sword. This is quite common in a lot of games but I do like it when games out just that extra mile to do so – just like some of the Wonder Boy games do.
I do love the animations of Asha when she interacts with stuff such as a chest, Pepelogoo and overall just everything that she does. It shows a lot of care has been taken with how the world reacts to itself.
This is where sadly I am disappointed. The music of the game was nice but I do not recall a single bit of classic Wonder Boy music in there. I understand that the game was going for an Arabian feel but I would have loved to have heard a Middle Eastern remake of classical Wonder Boy music.
Don’t get me wrong I did like the music but I expected something more, or at least something known. It is like playing a Final Fantasy game and not hearing the prologue. Still, the music was nice and it felt like it belonged to where it was designed to be.
Overall I enjoyed playing this game although it did not feel like a Monster Boy game as much as I hoped it did. I imagine a lot of this is either due to they wanted to go a different direction with this game or a different team made it but I would like to stress that I enjoyed playing this game and I wished I played the original when it came out. This game is cute, fun, and adorable, and just felt nice to play regardless of its flaws.
I give this game the following and my rating is only due to expecting that extra Wonder Boy magic from it but I would love to see Asha come back in another game.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
All screenshots are from Playing Games with Snat: Asha in Monster World and were played and captured using a PlayStation 5.
Playing Games with Snat
Need to reference?
Ellis, M. (2021). Asha in Monster World: My Review. [online] Snat's Narratives & Tales. Available at: https://snat.co.uk/reviews/video-games/wonder-boy-asha-in-monster-world-my-review.html [Accessed 29 Nov 2023].
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