Wonder Boy was one of the first games I got for my beloved Sega Master System. Having played the original arcade game on seaside weekends of my youth it seemed amazing to have such a faithful conversion of the game in my bedroom at the time.
The hero of the game, Tom-Tom isn’t known for providing in-car navigation, rather he is tasked with the job of rescuing the fair maiden Tanya who has been kidnapped by some nasty piece of work. The gameplay takes the form of a classic left-to-right scroller. There is no retracing your steps here, you have to keep moving on! To ensure that you stay on your toes your vitality bar continually diminishes ensuring that the pressure is always on to move forwards and collect more fruit to keep your bar topped up.
You can jump over baddies that block your path or throw axes at them which you find hidden in eggs along the way. You can also find a skateboard which speeds up your progress (But makes it impossible to stop moving) and allows you to take a hit without dying. The levels are fast and furious as you jump over rolling stones, hop over clouds and negotiate fiendish ice caverns.
In later levels you will really need to keep your wits about you to navigate the moving platforms and pixel perfect jumps you will need to do. Before long you will start to learn the ropes and watch out for that jumping octopus and still make your cloud jump! At the end of each area you’ll run into a generic boss. Simply lob several axes in his head to finish him off and proceed to the next section.
The history of the Wonder Boy series needs a wet towel around your head to understand but this is basically were it all started. Basically a company called Escape developed Wonder Boy originally for Sega and then cheekily licensed the game to Hudson Soft and just changed the hero to Master Higgins and some of the enemies for the Adventure Island game.
The Wonder Boy and Adventure Island series then evolved into two completely different series of games but in terms of which is the best version of this game it is fair to say that the Master System version is probably better than the first Adventure Island on the NES by a small margin mostly because of the superior graphics and character of the game.
Wikipedia history 101 lesson over! Wonder Boy comes highly recommended to all. The game is a little rough around the edges now, the game mechanics feel rustier than it once did, but the core gameplay is still a joy to behold. This is really one of the best Master System games there is and the start of a great series. Well worth a look!