(Wii Virtual Console / Mega Drive)

Monster World IV (Wii Virtual Console / Mega Drive)

Game Review

Monster World IV Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by Marcel van Duyn

Worth the wait

Originally released in 1994, Monster World IV is the final game in the Wonder Boy series. It's a very well-liked game and another great entry in the franchise, but there was just one problem: it was never released outside Japan. Until now that is, because SEGA has finally given the rest of the world a chance to experience the game, and unlike any other import game on Wii Virtual Console, it's fully translated as well.

Like most of the games before it, Monster World IV is a mix of an action platformer and an RPG. You move around in a 2D space, kill enemies, collect coins and use them to buy upgraded equipment. This final entry takes both a step forward and a step backward compared to its predecessors, though. There are several new combat moves to put to use, and the game's dungeons are a lot bigger and have a lot more puzzles. Blocking with your shield is also no longer done by simply standing still, you'll have to push down on the D-Pad to pull the shield out.

On the other hand, however, some things have reverted back to the way they were in Wonder Boy in Monster Land: it's very linear and doesn't feature one big, open world, only making one dungeon accessible at any given time. Clearing it unlocks the next one, but the one you just cleared will be permanently locked. Also similar to Monster Land is the fact that you don't keep old equipment for use at any time — the only equipment you have on you and will automatically use is the gear you've most recently purchased. This doesn't matter in most cases, but there are some shields with elemental defence bonuses which you might want to use over others, so be careful what you buy.

For the first time in the series, you play as a female character, Asha, which rather explains why the "Wonder Boy" part has been dropped from the title. You'll also quickly gain a cute companion called a Pepelogoo, a round, furry, floating creature which can be used to hover, double jump and interact with certain objects, by throwing him at them. Your companion also plays a key role in the game's plot, which is focused on a lot more this around, and between each dungeon you'll get some more story advancement. Despite the game's relative simplicity, it's a pretty interesting story too, and if you pay close attention you'll even notice some nods to the previous game, story-wise, Wonder Boy in Monster World.

Secrets are a lot less prevalent this time. There's a handful hidden throughout the game, but 90% of all collectibles (most of which are crystals which give you a permanent extra heart upon collecting ten) are in plain sight at the end of an easily spotted alternate path or simply the reward of a puzzle. That means no more wandering around aimlessly trying to find hidden doors, although you'll still have to do some of that later with some assistance.

The game is also noticeably less difficult than previous games. Strong equipment becomes available fairly early on and, coupled with medicine which refills your entire life bar, makes it a piece of cake to get through just about anything, except maybe the bosses. If that wasn't enough, you can also summon a genie at any time to pull you out of danger and return you back to the game's central town to restock. The game does have a handful of challenging platforming segments and a couple of tricky puzzles, but for the most part it's an easy road to the end — an enjoyable one, however.

The translation work must be commended, too. We're not sure of who exactly is responsible, but dialogue is pretty faithfully translated from the original Japanese, and all the humour is intact as well. One funny example is a man in the main town: a lot of identical men walking around say exactly the same thing, but one of them will remark, after spouting out the same line, that it's simply because he is a character in an RPG. A lot of the game's puzzles also would've been very hard to solve if left in Japanese, due to the reliance on text hints, so we assume this is the primary reason the translation was done.

Although the gameplay is probably the most solid of the whole series, where Monster World IV really shines is in the technical department. As is to be expected of a Mega Drive game from 1994, it features some very, very impressive graphics and, as seems to be the standard for the series, another highly catchy soundtrack. One minor annoyance is that the main theme seems to be repeated an awful lot; it pops up in a lot of the songs and might start to get old after a while. Thankfully, some older songs from the series also return towards the end for a nice bit of nostalgia, including a certain catchy tune which always seemed to play in castles belonging to dragons.

Conclusion

It might've taken 18 years, but the Monster World series is now, finally, fully available outside Japan. Monster World IV might not be very challenging and thus less satisfying to beat than previous games, but it makes up for it in spades with a ton more charm, more varied, enjoyable gameplay and some of the finest sprite work and music the Mega Drive has to offer. Now let's hope it sells well, so SEGA finally decides to make a new instalment.

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User Comments (47)

Bass_X0

#1

Bass_X0 said:

I wonder what it would have took for this game to have gotten a perfect 10.

Prof_Clayton

#3

Prof_Clayton said:

Great review Marcel van Duyn! :)
Wasn't going to be getting this, I like a harder game. (The only easy game I enjoyed was Solatorobo).
But 9 stars is making me rethink it.

47drift

#4

47drift said:

I picked this up when it came out on impulse after seeing the colorful screenshots and I was not disappointed. Easily one of my favorite games already, to the point that I've ordered art prints and figures of the characters. Super great game.

Fuzzy

#5

Fuzzy said:

Nice review. Looking forward to playing it.

Now, for me the visuals aren't working (sound is fine). Do I need to change the cables, or can I just change some settings on the Wii/TV? Not sure if I know where my original cables are.

RevolverLink

#6

RevolverLink said:

A general question to anybody that's played both games: if someone (namely me) thought Wonder Boy in Monster World was charming and moderately entertaining, but also not something they felt they really needed to play again, would you recommend Monster World IV to them?

I guess what I'm asking is, does the gameplay distinguish itself enough from the previous game to warrant a purchase from a non-fan?

MAB

#7

MAB said:

This game is a real winner glad we finally got the opportunity to download it. Now, SEGA if you are reading this can you please release Chakan the Forever Man even if its for Wii U, I don't care just gimme!

CyberNature

#8

CyberNature said:

I downloaded this the day it came out and finished it yesterday. Took me just under a week to finish it. And I enjoyed every second of it. Everyone buy this game. C'mon, guys. Sega is on tough times. Let's all help them out.

phoenix1818

#12

phoenix1818 said:

Now I finally get to complete the series, after all these years! Definitely going to buy this one, even if only to support the Wonder Boy/Monster World series and localisation of Japanese games for virtual console. While it seems to be unusual timing, it's probably what the Wii virtual console needs most now. I doubt SEGA would ever bother to make a new instalment, but if they did, it would seem almost too good to be true. (I'm still going to hope for one anyway)

Alucard

#14

Alucard said:

I have been holding off on playing this game until an official release - and it's been a long wait! I'm very glad to finally sit down and play it properly. So far, I have only finished the first level, but I'm enjoying it so far.

The game is clearly high quality, and the graphics are some of the most vibrant and full of life I've seen on the Mega Drive outside the Disney games. It has the most charm and humour out of all the games in the series too.

Also, one of the most important things about the Wonder Boy / Monster World series is the design of the enemy attack patterns, and I'm glad that quite a bit of thought has gone into them again. And the Pepelogoo is an interesting addition.

Right now I still consider Monster Land and Dragon's Trap/Curse to be the pinnacles of the series (they have the best pacing and immediacy-to-depth balance), but they're all of such high quality, they've proven Escape/Westone to be a great, underrated developer. Perhaps it was for the best that this was the final game in the series, but it would be great to at least have the developer around again to inject some of their arcade sensibility into current and next gen gaming.

CanisWolfred

#15

CanisWolfred said:

For some reason I forgot it was more linear than Monster World. Anyways, very good review, hit all the main points. Only thing I don't agree with is that it's easy, but then again, I don't think I ever used the genie and always saved my potions for the boss, so I guess I made it harder for myself. For me, it's one of the best on the system, an absolute joy to play from start to finish. I look forward to playing it again on VC.

SteveW

#16

SteveW said:

I agree with the score, this game is excellent, it is similar to Shantae but I like this one better.

Alucard

#17

Alucard said:

@47drift

That's cool, where are you getting the art prints and figures from, and are they official?

@RevolverLink

Based upon what I've played so far of this, yes, the gameplay is just different enough from Wonder Boy V: Monster World III (if that's what you're referring to). The Pepelogoo that you get early on is a cool multi-function sidekick that lets you double jump, protects you from stuff like lava, is throwable, upgradeable, etc.

However if you are looking for real variety, I would suggest Dragon's Curse (on Turbografx), as it has character transformations that are specific to different areas of the game (you pretty much start out as a fire breathing dragon). Then again I guess it depends on what it is you're after!

Lunapplebloom

#18

Lunapplebloom said:

I downloaded before the review, because I just knew it would be something special. I also think that while it does start out easy, it really picks up the pace. Nice review though. I seriously recommend this to everyone.

SparkOfSpirit

#21

SparkOfSpirit said:

I agree with the review. We are very fortunate to not only get the game legally released here, but also with a brand new translation!

Sega deserves tons of kudos for this and hopefully it will lead to more similar releases from them!

Omega

#23

Omega said:

I really enjoyed The Dynastic Hero (AKA Wonder Boy in Monster World). And this one looks very interesting, too. I'll get it with my next points card.

Henmii

#24

Henmii said:

Nice review and very nice score! I already intended to download it. I will do that pretty soon!

PixelatedPixie

#25

PixelatedPixie said:

I just arrived at the Ice Pyramid and while I found the game really enjoyable up to that point, I found that particular stage to be frustrating. The map was almost completely useless and the lack of saves points before the stage boss became a serious issue where in previous stages it had just been annoying. I still think the game is good overall, but I think I'm going to put it down for a few days before it rubs me the wrong way.

sinalefa

#26

sinalefa said:

I have never played any Wonder Boy games, so I hope this is a good place to start.

It sounds great that even if Sega is not in its best shape, they will still take the effort to translate this and release it in the West. Will definitely get it. Thanks for the review.

Pixel-Perfect

#28

Pixel-Perfect said:

I decided to get this not only because it looks cute, but also to (hopefully) support other such translation projects in the future.

Azikira

#29

Azikira said:

This game is so fun in my opinion. We need more charming platformers reminiscent of yesteryear.

Betagam7

#30

Betagam7 said:

It should be pointed out (as this review fails to - unlike James recent review of SSF2) that the PAL game has suffered from SEGA's usual downgrading of import titles: Crammed through a 50hz letterbox it has has large black borders at the top and bottom of the screen as well as squashed sprites and (presumably) slower music.

Really disappointing that after all the effort of translating the game Sega can't deliver a 60hz Megadrive game. Just what is the problem here Sega? Every other system on the service delivers its imports in 60hz yet the Megadrive constantly gets these broken PAL conversions? Fix your emulator for goodness sake! Why spend all that time translating a game just to botch the conversion? Has Sega ever responded on this issue? Clearly it puts effort into making it's releases seem special, with motion controls in its VCA games, online in SF2 and translating this title yet it then screws it all up with these awful PAL conversions.

It's like a chef who makes the most delicious meals he can come up with, labouring for days on end, then when he's done serves them on three day old unwashed dishes and hopes nobody will notice.

It makes no sense. Does Sega even know that the games are being presented this way? I ask because until people complained to Nintendo about false advertising Sega was claiming that the imports did run at 60hz. Who is in charge of putting these games on the PAL VC service?

47drift

#31

47drift said:

@Alucard Oh, the art prints aren't official, just a high res scan of the collection soundtrack cover art printed as a poster, and also another for use on my arcade fightstick.

The figure is official though! You can buy one HERE: http://bit.ly/JoVy84

CanisWolfred

#33

CanisWolfred said:

@Betagam7 I played it in 50 hz just for fun once. It plays just fine. Borders were a bit annoying, but I got used to them in, like, a minute. It's really not that bad in this case. This is coming from somebody who has never had to put up with that stuff before.

Alucard

#34

Alucard said:

@47drift

Nice - thanks. I'm surprised that those even exist to be honest.

@Betagam7

My guess is that many PAL conversions are chosen for display in 50hz because of places like Australia. It just might not be practical for them to convert for specific sub-regions, so they just use the lowest common standard. Having said that, many European PAL retail Wii games are both 50hz/60hz - although I'm not quite sure about how that affects things other than being able to display in either mode.

Ristar42

#35

Ristar42 said:

@Betagam7 I went for Monster Land instead as at least SEGA present their arcade games in 60Hz.

50Hz only has put me off many VC downloads.

MotorTCD

#36

MotorTCD said:

Personally i disagree about this game being easy maybe compared to mw 1-3 but it can be pretty darn hard but this one of the few games that is hard without being frustratingly hard

phoenix1818

#37

phoenix1818 said:

@Alucard I live in Australia and I don't know anyone without a TV that can handle 60Hz. Most TVs on sale now are at least 100Hz or 200Hz, as has become starndard in all PAL regions. So SEGA has no excuse for downgrading virtual console games to 50Hz, particularly if the game wasn't originally available at 50Hz (like this one). Even Nintendo use 60Hz versions for any import or Hanabi games, so I don't see why SEGA should think it necessary to reduce the refresh rates and resolution like they needed to back in the '90s.

Alucard

#38

Alucard said:

@phoenix1818

Yes, I am in Australia too. I also agree that there shouldn't be any real problems in going 60hz for PAL regions. And it's likely to be redundant by 2013 when the switchover occurs, anyhow.

I am just looking for potential reasons as to why they deem it necessary to hold to a 50Hz standard. Perhaps it is based upon some demographic information that they have. For example, both my European PAL and Australian PAL games generally support 50Hz/60Hz split mode, but I have seen the warning "60Hz mode (unlike 50Hz mode) is not supported by all TVs" only in Australian game manuals.

SNK

#39

SNK said:

this is the best deal by here:
Xbox Live Arcade

Release Date: 5/23:

Monster World Collection (800 MSP)

Wonder Boy in Monster Land (Arcade)

Wonder Boy in Monster World (Genesis/Mega Drive)

Monster World IV (Genesis/Mega Drive)

and all of them for only 800mp.

Betagam7

#40

Betagam7 said:

@Alucard

I'm almost 100% sure its simply the emulator Sega uses that's at fault. Sega seemed to think the hanabi games did run at 60hz when they originally launched as this was stated on the Wii shop channel (and then quietly removed after people began complaining and asking for their money back).
It seems like the emulator Sega uses is doing the downgrading, just like trying to play an import title on an old PAL machine would do.

3DSLUIGI

#41

3DSLUIGI said:

I literally fell in love with this game when I downloaded it 2 Saturdays ago. The game feels and plays great just you would expect from any of the other games in the series. It seems SEGA to me has hit all the key points they needed to when they translated this game and brought it over to the VC. I'm looking forward to seeing what other goodies come from the GENESIS imo tbh. Mickey Mania to me would be a good start. Or maybe Castle Of Illusion would be nice to see.

OnionOverlord

#42

OnionOverlord said:

I'm honestly surprised this game got a Virtual Console release seeing as how the amount of text needed to translate would have made for a considerable amount of work. This is a great chance for those who don't wish to import to get their hands on a legal copy of the game.

GreenDream

#44

GreenDream said:

Playing through this now without weapon or armor upgrades; it's more difficult! I've needed to use the genie to prevent game over many times, and moving slowly progresses quicker than moving quickly.

That_Guy_from_Faxana

#45

That_Guy_from_Faxana said:

Does anyone know if this game runs in actual 60hz in europe? Some Mega Drive games are only 50hz, but I´ve heared imports are 60.

ICEknight

#47

ICEknight said:

I can't stand playing in 50Hz mode, so Xbox 360 version for me.

Why wasn't this mentioned in the review, anyway? Games locked at 50Hz should have 2 points automatically removed from their overall score.

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