The Wonder Boy Anniversary Collection, not to be confused with last year’s Wonder Boy Collection does what that title did but includes over double the amount of games and adds even more bang for your buck. How much more I hear you ask? Well here is a game list!
So what you have here is essentially 21 versions of six Wonderboy titles, not including the recent re-masters of Wonderboy 1, Monster World IV which we covered HERE and the Dot Emu developed Wonderboy III: The Dragon’s Trap.
Wonder Boy (1986)
While a legendary title that has spawned re-releases recently such as Wonder Boy Returns Remix, more people would be familiar with the title as Master Higgins NES title Adventure Island.
Wonder Boy is an arcade platformer where you play as a Caveman who has to run across the island, eating food to stave off a timer, throw stone axes at demons and animals alike and occasionally Skateboard in order to save the love of his life.
Ironically Wonder Boy (1986) despite being the first Wonder Boy has the least in common with the series, due to some confusing rights issues and the like, the Wonder Boy series took a different route after this title and left the caveman adventures to Hudson Soft and their mascot Master Higgins.
Wonder Boy in Monster Land (1987)
This title is definitely closer to what people think when they hear the name WonderBoy, an epic adventure disposing of evil creatures, collecting weapons and items while platforming.
Being that this title is still firmly stuck to its arcade roots it’s a linear affair in contrast to later titles in the series, it also has quite a messy U.I which makes it feel like you’re piloting a spacecraft.
This is still a fun title and it’s interesting to see where the true roots of the Wonder Boy series took place, again it’s an arcade title so expect the usual coin munching techniques and the race against the clock, plus Wonder Boy really looks quite wimpy to start with but you can acquire armour and weapons as you go on.
Wonder Boy in Monster World (1991)
This is the kind of title you think of when you hear Wonder Boy, an action platformer with light RPG mechanics and just a smattering of “Metroidvania”.
This is a port of the famous Mega Drive title and is likely one of 3 titles people think of when they think of Wonder Boy, a decently paced adventure without the strings of it being an arcade title, developed for the Mega Drive.
Brilliant sprite art and fantastic chiptunes await.
Wonder Boy II: The Dragon’s Trap
The most popular of the series and with good reason, excellent pacing and one of the earliest examples of the “Metroidvania” style of gameplay. While it’s interesting to see how the other versions of the game faired it’s standard to just default to the best version which is naturally the Sega Master System version.
Wonder Boy III: Monster’s Lair.
A weird mix of Shmup and scrolling platformer which a nod back to the series origins with it’s constantly scrolling gameplay. It’s a fun little curiosity but doesn’t quite stack up when compared to the series’ highest highs sadly.
Monster World IV
The culmination of the series and one of the highest points of quality. It fully leans into the RPG elements and Metroidvania pacing and provides one of the best titles ever produced on the Mega Drive.
It’s not named Wonder Boy because the main hero is a female called Asha but don’t let that put you off its 110% Wonder Boy and if by chance you played the remake but wasn’t too sold on it. This version with its mastery of sprite art oozes more than in 1 enemy than all of the 3D models the remake had.
The total package.
My major issue with the previous release was the exclusion of Dragon’s Trap which is fixed in this version, it’s an honest to god, fit to burst Wonder Boy tour from start to finish with just about every version of each game you could want!. I’ve always seen the series as more of a Master System series and this title certainly let me revisit the games as I know them.
Every game comes with button remapping, save state features and a helpful rewind button for when you don’t feel like being a complete purist.
Finally the game comes with a fantastic gallery with tons of art to feed your eyeballs with and the usual aspect ratio and shader options.
If you skipped the previous package or just need even more Wonder Boy in your life, this title right here is the essential purchase, even if you bought the previous title there are more than enough ports here to justify the asking price, it’s just a shame this has become the norm where a smaller package is released and around a year later the more “complete” version drops.