Sega Master System / Mark III / Game Gear
The adventure continues! Fresh from his escapades in Monster Land, the hyperactive hero returns in pursuit of the dreaded Dragon of Monster World - and ends up with more than he bargained for...
The action begins inside Monster's Castle where you take control of an armed and armoured Wonderboy as you hack your way past a variety of guards to reach the Dragon's chamber. A fierce battle ensues, in a head-to-head against the huge, fireball-spitting lizard. To defeat him, you have to leap up and strike the huge beast in the eye - every blow that makes contact reduces the Dragon's damage meter. When it finally reaches zero, the beast explodes into stars and releases a blue spirit which floats around the screen lobbing out gold coins. These can be collected until the spirit touches you - and this is where the game really begins: the Dragon's spirit carries a curse which transforms you into a fire-breathing Lizard-man!
With the Dragon dead, the castle begins to collapse around your small green ears - time to make a sharp exit. Heading back though the castle's corridors, you have to battle past the dragon's guardians and avoid the falling rubble, in order to reach the exit.
The tiny Mouse-man (that's him in front of the door) reachs the jungle level on his way to defeating the second dragon. Watch out for the big green frog on the left, who takes great pleasure in blatting Mouse-man on the head!
Having escaped and witnessed the castle's collapse, you now find yourself in the 'Dragon's Trap'. The only way to restore yourself to Wonderboy-like proportions is to traverse the length and breadth of Monster World, find the five remaining dragons, and do them over. Only once the last dragon has been defeated are you able to retrieve the Salamander Sword - the one artifact that can reverse the dragon's curse. What a downer.
Your quest scrolls and flick-screens its way across a mixture of different terrains, ranging from burning deserts with lava rivers to steamy jungle scenes and underwater caverns. There are platforms to negotiate, towers to climb and mazes to get lost in, and exploration is achieved with a mixture of walking, jumping, swimming and, later, flying.
From left to right: Wonderboy battles his way through the castle to meet the first dragon in combat. The huge beast fires a stream of fireballs at his small adversary, and although the dragon looks a fierce opponent, Wonderboy's energy is only slowly depleted. Once the dragon is killed, his small, blue spirit hovers around the screen releasing valuable coins. The spirit eventually touches Wonderboy, at which point the freshly-mutated Lizard-man has to make for the exit, avoiding falling masonry from the rapidly collapsing fortress.
Top: Lizard-man on one of the grassy islands to be found by heading right of the village. Bottom': An undersea kingdom resides below the islands. Beware of all the aquatic creatures which spit missiles and are deadly to touch.
You first appear in a small village which acts as the central hub of Monster World. From here, the five monster's lairs can be reached, and the village itself can be instantly revisited using one- way doors which are dotted around the landscape.
The village consists of a couple of buildings whose doorways lead to shops, a hospital and all manner of tunnels and waterways. On entering the first shop, a friendly one-eyed pig storekeeper (huh?) provides you with a password. This enables you to restart the game with your current character, status and inventory, and the shop can be revisited at any time to update your password.
Other doorways lead to more porky shopkeepers retailing the latest fashions in armour, shields and weapons, or a girlie in a red-cross hat offering to cure your wounds for a small price.
The local currency is gold coins, and these are earned by despatching the variety of monsters that just roam around looking for trouble. As the creature flickers out of existence, a coin or money bag shoots out and bounces along the floor. If you touch the dosh before it disappears, your bank account is automatically increased.
And it's not just cash that's up for grabs: some creatures release extra energy or special one-off weapons such as Boomerangs, Tornados and Arrows, which are used to kill the trickier adversaries. Touching these adds them to your inventory, and a jab of the Pause button accesses a status sheet allowing items in the inventory to be used.
If you're unlucky enough to touch your opponent in the process of duffing them up, your energy is reduced, as signified by a diminishing row of red hearts. Many plants and animals also shoot fireballs which are similarly dangerous so, to be on the safe side, avoid everything!
After exploring for a while - interspersed with some heavy-duty fire-breathing - you should find your way to the domain of the second dragon (just like the first, only harder!). Defeating this demon sees you transformed into Mouse-man, who must then continue the quest to find the third dragon. In this fashion you are then transformed into Piranha-man, Lion-man and, finally, Hawk-man in your bid to despatch all five dragons.
There is also a secret chamber, where you can metamorphosize into your alter-egos at will. A special block somewhere in the village (find it yourself!) is smashed to reveal a question mark. Touch it, and a doorway appears leading to the room where your transformations take place.
'Clockwise from top left: Lizard-man breaths fire as a long-distance deterrent. He can live underwater but cannot swim; Hawk-man flies (pretty obvious, really) but suffers badly under water; Mouse-man walks on walls and ceilings and can sneak through narrow passageways. Also starts to act funny when getting damp; Lion-man swings a mean blade to destroy blocks in front and below him; and Piranha-man makes like a green Duncan Goodhew. Centre: There several transformation chambers throughout Monster land which enable the current character to be changed into another. You have to do this quite a few times on the trail of the final dragon. There's also some strategy involved: make the wrong choice and you'll find yourself getting stuck before too long.
The character Wonderboy first appeared as a 1986 Sega coin-op in which the diminutive hero ran, jumped and skateboarded past evil-doers in order to rescue his girlfriend Tanya from the grip of the brutish woodland King. Originally called Bock Lee Temjin - or plain old Tom-Tom to his mates - the small boy's escapades so impressed the people of Wonder Land that they bestowed upon him the ultimate accolade of Wonderboy. This simple arcade game made a terrific conversion to the Master System in 1987 and proved as popular as its arcade parent.
The follow-up changed pace and direction, becoming more of an arcade adventure. An invasion of the invincible Meka Dragon and his henchmen transformed the once serene Wonder Land into a demon-filled Monster Land. Wonderboy - now a teenager - is called upon to rid the land of the interlopers and restore it to its former peace. In the process, Wonderboy in Monster Land entered the all time top ten best-selling Sega games.
The latest addition to the Wonderboy saga has little to do with the coin-op of the same name that appeared recently, which will come as bad news to fans of the machine. But Wonderboy III is still a fabbo game in its own right, and should easily keep you occupied until Wonderboy reappears in his fourth adventure.
Each character has special abilities which are required to negotiate the different sections of Monster World: Mouse-man can walk up walls and across ceilings; Piranha-man can swim in water; Lion-man is good with a sword and can smash tiles beneath him; and Hawk-man can fly to the more inaccessible parts of Monster World.
When you finally run out of energy, your character sprouts wings and a halo and floats serenely off the top of the screen. A gamble/continue option then appears, allowing you to be reincarnated, but with reduced energy. Pressing button 1 to continue sets a potion spinning around a series of yellow and red hearts; if it stops on a yellow heart, the game continues, if it stops on a red heart, it's game over, kiddo.
Wonderboy III is an arcade adventurer's dream: it's wonderfully complex, with hidden rooms and passage ways, buried treasure chests full of goodies, special blocks with hidden bonuses, spring-loaded catapults and loads of weird monsters to fight. It's also very, very big - mappers had better get some megahuge sheets of paper!
Not only does it play well, but Wonderboy III looks and sounds terrific. As the game unfolds, the graphics just get better and better, with gorgeous jungle backdrops, underwater caverns and sunken ships - well, just cast your beads over the screen shots...
The scrolling is as good as expected, and although there are only a few frames, the animation on the creatures - and especially the ones you control - is really effective. All of the sprites are neatly drawn and move very smoothly, but beware of the devious inertia on your main character!
The inclusion of a password system is a major help in attempting to complete the game, with one drawback being that it always restarts from the village, instead of where Wonderboy (or any of his other alter egos) last died. For instance, if you croak trying to beat one of the Dragons, you'll have to hack it all the way back to his lair again.
If you're willing to put up with this one small(ish) inconvenience, Wonderboy III comes recommended to anybody with plenty of patience and a couple of months to spare!
It's only a cherry, but with a $25 bet, you're $75 up!
▲ Superb backdrops, with loads of variety.
▲ Plenty of neat special effects (bubbles underwater etc).
▲ Smooth movement of sprites around the screen.
▲ Main characters are large, well designed and beautifully animated.
▲ Jolly backing tracks, in keeping with the different graphical locations.
▲ Heaps of great arcade- style sound effects and jingles
▲ It’S BIG!
▲ Great mix of strategy and puzzling.
▲ Exciting platform and combat action.
▲ Constant urge to explore and discover new locations.
▲ Password system option helps sustain long-term interest.
▲ Immediate continue function for ’just one more go'.
▼ Restart from central village can be frustrating.
A superbly playable and compelling arcade adventure. This solid game represents a huge challenge and is bound to cause arguments over use of the TV set!