Wonder Boy - Asha In Monster World's seen criticism since getting announced. Offering us a remake of Monster World IV in a similar fashion to The Dragon’s Trap, this latest entry has dropped the previous 2D visuals for a 2.5D art style, placing 3D characters into 2D gameplay. That's proven quite divisive amongst fans.
Speaking to Nintendo Everything, game director Ryuichi Nishizawa has confirmed why they chose this approach:
I decided to use 3D for characters, backgrounds, and other visual resources long before I started this project. The main reason for this was that when I was working on the game’s art and graphics (LookDev), there was a higher probability that I would be able to produce higher quality work in 3D. Of course, it would be possible to explain logically why, but the main reason was that I had an intuitive conviction at first that 3D was definitely better. I don’t like to explain it because it sounds like an afterthought, but I’ll try my best (laughs).
As you know, 3D video resources are created through four processes: modeling, applying materials, lighting, and projecting with a camera. This ‘separation of processes’ is very important. Moreover, the processes other than modeling can be changed in real time while the game is running, which is an advantage. On the other hand, 2D video resources are created by professional designers who painstakingly draw lines, paint colors, and in some cases add special effects using image tools. This process is repeated carefully and painstakingly. In other words, not only the shape and color of 2D images, but also the lighting and camera are left up to the designer, and the designer’s ability is directly reflected in the quality of the image.
Even if the director wants to lighten the color of the background for a test, he has to ask the designer to correct it. The director just wants to experiment a little, but it costs time and money. In contrast, with 3D, as long as the model and materials are prepared by the designer, the lighting and camera can be freely controlled by the director. You can create the images you want through trial and error at your own hand. You see how the degree of creative freedom is overwhelmingly different?
It's quite a lengthy explanation, and Nishizawa discusses this choice even further, explaining they didn't have "great artists like Lizardcube’s Ben (Fiquet)" to make good 2D visuals. He also cites how 2D games utilise "a unique UX that cannot be expressed in 3D games", calling Asha in Monster World a new attempt to take advantage of the 3D space.
It won't be long before we can judge this remake for ourselves – it launches next month in Japan, with a Q2 2021 date for the West. A physical release is planned, and it's worth noting that several retailers are listing a May 28th release date. However, that hasn't formally been confirmed.
If you're interested in hearing more from the great Ryuichi Nishizawa, check out our recent interview with him and the team restoring arcade gem Clockwork Aquario for Switch nearly thirty years after it was cancelled.
Will you be buying Wonder Boy - Asha In Monster World? Prefer 2D visuals? Let us know below.
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