Review – Wonder Boy Collection

The revival of the Wonder Boy/Monster Land franchise is an odd duck. What we usually see from publishers is for remasters and collections of a certain franchise to show up first, reminding consumers of its existence, with new games following shortly after, depending on fan demand. Wonder Boy was the opposite. We started out with a full-fledged remake of Wonder Boy III: The Dragon’s Trap, followed by a brand new (and phenomenal) game in the series, Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom, and a polygonal remake of Monster World IV, named Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster World. Only now we are getting a long due compilation of Wonder Boy classics with Wonder Boy Collection. I would ask if it was worth the wait, but the answer is quite obvious. Sure, not a brilliant collection, but one I’ve been waiting for years.

Wonder Boy Collection

The original Wonder Boy has nothing to do with other games in the franchise, and it shows (as in, it’s lame).

Wonder Boy Collection is comprised of four games, with The Dragon’s Trap not being one of them. There are two arcade titles and two Mega Drive titles in this collection. Let’s talk about the arcade title first and foremost, as they showcase a totally different kind of Wonder Boy experience, which is not always a good one. The first Wonder Boy is also known in the West as Adventure Island. It is a very simple, very limited, and very lame arcade platformer, where the goal is to constantly move right while eating tons of fruit to keep your hunger meter satiated. It has very little to do with what other Wonder Boy games would eventually turn out to be. It’s quite forgettable, to be honest.


Wonder Boy in Monster Land is shockingly ahead of its time.

The second title in this collection is Wonder Boy in Monster Land. It is not the best title in this collection, nor in the franchise as a whole (Wonder Boy III: The Dragon’s Trap is still the MVP), but it might be the most important of them all. Despite being an arcade platformer, it is heavily centered around exploration, with some additional RPG elements not seen in games of its time. Its controls are slippery, and its collision detection is kind of crappy, but it’s a pretty impressive game, considering its age. You can clearly see the influence this game would have in later installments, ditching the dumb tribal setting for a fantasy medieval one, and the emphasis on exploration being an important stepping stone for The Dragon’s Trap proto-metroidvania vibes.

Wonder Boy Collection UI

This collection features an ugly UI, but it’s packed with additional goodies.

Wonder Boy in Monster World is the third game in the collection, and easily the best. It takes everything its predecessor has laid out and expands it with better visuals, level design, save files (given how this was a Mega Drive game, not an arcade title), while, sadly, still retaining slippery controls and poor collision detection. In all honesty, it isn’t very different from Monster Land, and that’s fine. It’s just more of the same, but better. Lastly, there’s Monster World IV. Yes, the same one that got remade last year. While far from being bad, it is the one title in this collection that feels a bit more redundant, given how there are better ways to play it other than the ROM included in here.

Wonder Boy Collection was co-developed by Ratalaika Games, mostly known for publishing smaller indies at a machine gun’s pace. With that said, they were responsible for Turrican Flashback, a retro compilation of old Amiga titles that was a lot more jam-packed with side content than initially anticipated. They sort of did the same thing in this collection: sure, its presentation is horrid, with cheap-looking menus and a confusing interface, but Wonder Boy Collection features art galleries, save states, visual filters, a rewind function, and so on. It’s more than the bare minimum, that’s for sure.

Monster World

Wonder Boy in Monster World is just like its predecessor, but better in every single aspect.

All in all, Wonder Boy Collection, as a compilation of older titles, is pretty good. It suffers from the fact that, while influential, these games are very flawed, with poor controls and collision detection being an issue shared among all of them. There’s also the fact that the best game in the series, The Dragon’s Trap, is the sole title not featured in the package. With that said, if all you want is to either enjoy these classic titles or have access to them in a much easier way in 2022, Wonder Boy Collection is an easy recommendation.


Graphics: 6.5

Some games in this collection have aged better than others when it comes to their visuals. Animations and character designs are a bit weird. All games run well, though. There are also many resolution, aspect ratio and screen filter options as well.

Gameplay: 6.0

Even though three out of four games in this collection are forward-thinking platformers with groundbreaking design ideas, they all share two massive flaws: slippery controls and poor collision detection. Thank goodness for the rewind feature included in the collection.

Sound: 7.0

The arcade titles feature good soundtracks, while the Mega Drive titles suffer (or not, depending on your point of view) from that console’s sound chip. At the end of the day, it’s mostly a matter of taste.

Fun Factor: 7.5

Flaws aside, if all you want is to either enjoy these classic titles or have access to them in a much easier way in 2022, Wonder Boy Collection is an easy recommendation.

Final Verdict: 7.0

Wonder Boy Collection is available now on PS4 and Switch.

Reviewed on Switch.

A copy of Wonder Boy Collection was provided by the publisher.