Review – Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster World

Of all Sega franchises currently being developed and published by other companies, Wonder Boy is the most fruitful of them all. This is all thanks to the excellent releases of both the Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap remake and Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom, which was a brand new Wonder Boy game in everything but its name. The latest game in the franchise is actually one of the most interesting projects so far. Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster World is actually a remake of a Mega Drive game that has never been released outside of Japan, which is quite curious, considering how successful the console was everywhere but in its home country.

Asha in Monster World Graphics

The environments look beyond bland, but the characters are just way too adorable.

Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster World is a bit deceiving when it comes to being part of the whole Wonder Boy franchise. A lot of the franchise’s main mechanics, such as morphing into different kinds of monsters in order to overcome obstacles and more metroidvania-ish level design, aren’t present in here. Asha in Monster World is a bit more linear and is focused primarily on using a winged companion called Pepelogoo to solve small puzzles throughout levels, as well as completing a handful of Zelda II-inspired dungeons.

The combat is a lot simpler, revolving mostly around simple sword attacks and gathering energy to unleash a charged blow after a while. The hit detection takes some time to get used to and the movement is a bit archaic. It’s not bad per se, but you have to understand that Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster World is more of a modern reskinning of an old game that keeps most of its 1994 gameplay intact. The only thing I just can’t agree on, even when looking at it with my 90’s glasses on, is the fact that you need to take tons of leaps of faith during platforming sections. It wasn’t cool back then, and it certainly isn’t now.

Asha in Monster World Asha

I’m pretty sure Asha was Shantae before Shantae was Shantae.

Don’t worry, I certainly did not dislike Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster World. It’s dated, sure, but I really loved its brand new graphical style. Simply put, this game is gorgeous. Instead of Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap‘s cartoon looks, Asha in Monster World goes for cel-shaded polygons. These are expertly crafted and animated in a way that makes them look like a living breathing anime. Characters are just downright adorable and the amount of bright colors onscreen is absolutely a sight for sore eyes. The game also runs at a fantastic framerate at all times.

The sound department, just like any other Wonder Boy game, is downright excellent. Yuzo Koshiro did not compose the original game’s soundtrack, but that doesn’t mean that Asha in Monster World isn’t full of banger tunes all throughout your adventure. Not only was the soundtrack excellent, but I was surprised to find out that the game featured quite a bit of voice acting, and good voice acting at that. Granted, it’s all in Japanese, but it no moment did it feel excessively forced like in other anime-inspired games.

Duck Peddler

Yo, it’s Farfetch’d!

Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster World is a Mega Drive classic with a modern coat of paint, which isn’t a bad thing. Some aspects of its gameplay take some time to get used to, but you cannot deny it’s gorgeous to look at and way too charming to ignore. It can please both old-school fans of the franchise and platforming enthusiasts alike with its simple controls, beyond adorable presentation, and extremely forgiving level of difficulty. The game might not be as polished as other modern iterations of Wonder Boy, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t check it out regardless.


Graphics: 8.5

The environments do look a bit bland, but the character designs and animations are just downright adorable. 

Gameplay: 7.0

It might be a brand new remake, but by and large Asha in Monster World still plays like a Mega Drive game, with a very simplistic combat system and hit detection. You can get used to those limitations, however, especially if you’re a retro enthusiast.

Sound: 8.5

There’s a bit of voice acting in here and the soundtrack is a rearranged recreation of the original 1994 one, complete with that irresistible Mega Drive charm.

Fun Factor: 7.5

Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster World is a reminder of the simpler days of the Mega Drive era. It still basically plays like a game from 1994 with a fresh coat of paint, but it has aged remarkably well, all things considered.

Final Verdict: 7.5

Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster World is available now on PS4, PC, and Switch. The boxed retail version published by ININ Games comes exclusively with the original Monster World IV.

Reviewed on PS4.

A copy of Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster World was provided by the publisher.