Saturday, March 26, 2011

Wonder Boy In Genesis Collection Land

Today I purchased yet another package of games as part of a Steam sale. Their Genesis classics collection costs only 10 dollars for the next week or so. You get 40 games in the collection, so that's 25 cents per game, which I'd say is quite poverty. With emulators and roms for older systems, you can get pretty much anything for free, but I don't mind paying a little bit for some classics. I've spent a few bucks on Virtual Console, mainly because I like to own things and the emulation is really good.

Frankly, I'll buy Streets of Rage 2 on any platform it is released because it is one of my favorite games of all time. FYI, the XBLA version is emulated somewhat poorly, but online play makes up for it, the Virtual Console version is perfect, and the emulator for this collection does a good job when you get the settings the way you want them. This collection has a good selection of games, with a lot of stuff I'm nostalgic for like Alien Storm, Altered Beast, Comix Zone, Decap Attack, ESWAT, Kid Chameleon, Landstalker, and of course Streets of Rage 1 and 2. And there are some games that I know are good but never got around to playing, like Shining Force 1 and 2. Oddly missing are the Sonic games (no, Flicky does not count); probably because they know they can make decent money selling them separately. I don't mean to shill, but I'm a fan of a good deal.

This kid's sword shoots rockets.  Suck it, Link.
With these 40 games sitting in front of me, I decided I was going to play a game that I had never played before. At the bottom of the list is Wonder Boy III: Monster's Lair. In fact I've barely played any game in the Wonder Boy or Adventure Island franchises, which I think is pretty impressive considering there are like a million games in the two weirdly intermingled franchises. I don't think I could go into detail on the history of the series, especially after seeing an exhaustive account in an episode of Chrontendo, or maybe it was Chronsega. The history of this specific game is a bit more manageable. It was originally an arcade game in the late 80's. It was then ported to the TurboGrafx-CD and released in Japan and North America, and later it was ported to the Mega Drive and released in Japan and Europe. So this specific version of the game was missed in North America until modern releases on Virtual Console and Steam.

The game is a side-scrolling shooter, but it is split between two different styles. During the first half of the level you are on foot, but during the second half you fly around on a winged Slowpoke. The on foot platforming part is weird for me, because I'm not used to platformers with forced scrolling. It was not too hard adjust thanks to the simple nature of the game. The health system in the game is another strange thing. You have a health bar that slowly drains over time, so you need to eat fruit constantly to regain health. Maybe Wonder Boy is a hypoglycemic; I don't know. Of course, you will also lose health when you are hit by enemy's projectiles, and if you touch the enemies themselves you will die instantly.

Look at this smug fuck.
The game feels like a straightforward arcade style game. You move right. You shoot stuff. You pick up power ups. Eventually you kill a boss. The power ups are only temporary, which would be annoying, but you get them so frequently it isn't a big deal except when you get to a boss and stop getting them. The biggest challenge can sometimes be avoiding the power ups you don't want. The circle power up pretty much destroys everything on screen, so of course you don't want to pick up a different one when you have that. The first few boss fights all seemed the same. The boss flies up and down and shoots a volley of smaller enemies at you. But on the third one, after you beat the honey comb shooting bees, a queen bee comes out, which was a nice change of pace. The ice boss was also different in that he continually drops blocks of ice to block your shots, all the while shooting at you.

I spent longer than expected playing the game, which I guess means that it is pretty easy. It's an alright simple game with pretty good music. Worth a quarter, at least.

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