“Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster World” Offers a Charming Fantasy/Action Platformer (Nintendo Switch Review)

Wonder Boy Asha in Monster World Nintendo Switch release
Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster World – Nintendo Switch (Image: PR)

Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster World offers a charming fantasy/action platformer where you explore various locations, solve puzzles, and defeat monsters to save the world.

I was provided with a free digital copy of Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster World on the Nintendo Switch for review. The opinions I have shared are my own. 

Upon my initial discovery of the Wonder Boy game series, being that it was only just recently (precisely on the news that I’d be reviewing the current title) I was quite intrigued by what the latest release had to offer. For one, it’s got a 30-year history, unlike most of the games I’ve reviewed, and two, the art style gave me the faintest feeling of something from Studio Ghibli with its anime-esque look and vibrant colors.

Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster World, published by Studioartdink and developed by Monkey Craft, is an action/role-playing 3D side scroller with elements of exploration and upgradeable weapons, a sassy genie in a lamp, and a rather adorable creature called a Pepelogoo which turns out to be a vital tool for Asha to progress on her journey.

Asha is a bright-eyed, green-haired, young warrior dressed in Arabian-styled nomadic clothing. As she embarks on her journey to become a true warrior she learns that ancient spirits necessary for the balance of the world have suddenly gone missing and it’s up to Asha (of course!) to recover these spirits from the clutches of something sinister. Armed with her faithful companion Pepelogoo and a magical genie in a lamp they’ll have to venture through portals to vastly different environments and face enemies to save the spirits of the land.

The gameplay in Asha in Monster World is rather simple. Asha has a forward, upward, and downward slash attack with her sword, and an empowered attack for more damage and a basic jump. Her repertoire of skills enhances when she partners with her Pepelogoo which gives her a “glide” jump, a double jump as well as a bunch of utility options like reaching far away levers or interacting with environment puzzles to help Asha reach places she wouldn’t otherwise be able to. There are also environment puzzles beyond this like getting keys to open doors which will have you backtracking which is fine, at first. However, the game doesn’t really give you a sense of direction and because everything looks quite similar it can be a little confusing as to where it is you need to go.

For instance, the Genie serves as a teleporter back to a general safe hub area. After defeating what I thought was a boss, I opened my treasure chest and figured I needed to go back to talk to a quest-giving character to possibly progress the story. Upon teleporting all the way out of the dungeon, and talking to said character, it triggered absolutely nothing. So I had to tread back to the same dungeon area, retrace every step, get back to the “boss” area (which was only a mini-boss) and continue on.

The game also doesn’t autosave, which harkens back to the days of old, making sure you save your progress frequently, lest you find yourself rage quitting or begrudgingly having to redo the same gameplay session over again.

Another little peeve I had was about the very few tips on what your companion Pepelogoo can do. I encountered several different game mechanics where I was just utterly confused. As a gamer, I know to look for certain cues, but I was still aimlessly pressing different buttons or backtracking until finally something worked. While the game does give tips it would’ve been nice to get some that said, “Pepelogoo can do many different things and thrive in many different environments, if you’re ever stuck try using it” just to urge players to rethink their exploration and puzzle-solving strategies. So, if you reading this review, don’t hesitate to use the Pepelogoo! It’s more durable and versatile than it looks.

While we’re talking about gripes, the music was, uhm, interesting. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed it. It’s very upbeat and sticks with you, but the placement of certain musical choices in particular environments felt as though it took away from the overall atmosphere being presented in certain parts of the story. For instance, as I’m scaling a volcano mountain with dark clouds and thunder, the music was quite positive and fun. There’s this clash of what you’re seeing versus what’s playing and it’s a bit jarring. During the Boss fights, however, the music became dramatic and made the encounter feel like an actual battle, which I loved.

The enemy types and dungeon obstacles are relatively simple once you learn their patterns. But that doesn’t mean it’s not a challenge when multiple enemies are in front of you with different attack outputs or traversing platforms while dodging incoming fire. The game will keep you on your toes just as you think you’re having too easy of a time but it’s never anything too difficult to manage.

At the time of writing this review, Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster World is priced at $34.99 USD over at the Nintendo Store. As someone who tries to be honest in my reviews, the current price is great for fans of the Monster World franchise as it comes with a whole lot of nostalgia. However, a side-scrolling action game (that will take you only a couple of hours to get through) might not be for everyone at said price point.

All I’m saying is you should be prepared for what you’ll be getting for the money you’ll spend. This release is primarily for Monster World fans first. However, as a newcomer, I enjoyed playing Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster World. But having said that, I wouldn’t hold it against you, as a fellow newcomer, if you wait for the title to go on sale.

Take note; the digital version of Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster World can be purchased from the Nintendo and Sony stores and is published by STUDIOARTDINK.

The boxed retail version of Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster World comes exclusively with the original Monster World IV published by ININ Games.

For fans of the franchise, there is a Limited Edition, Collectors’ Edition, and Mega Collector’s Edition of Asha in Monster World up for grabs.

Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster World was released on May 28, 2021, for the Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4. The Steam release is planned for June 29, 2021.

Are you a fan of the Monster World game series?

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Author: Micah Carrillo

Micah is studying English and Digital Design. His love of geek culture spans across diverse mediums and genres. Comics, anime, films, you name it! He enjoys video games on the Nintendo Switch and Xbox.

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