Wonder Boy is one of those overlooked SEGA properties that rarely gets the attention it deserves. Relegated to the occasional inclusion in a compilation, it wasn’t really until this generation when the series started to make somewhat of a comeback. We’ve had remakes of the original Wonder Boy, Wonder Boy III: The Dragon’s Trap, and Monster World IV. We even got a SEGA ages remaster of the second game and even a whole brand new entry with Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom.

What better way to celebrate the series then with a fancy compilation of all the classic titles? Well, tough luck. That version was a Strictly Limited Games physical exclusive which is now sold out. Instead you’re stuck with a collection containing just four of them.

Many thanks to the publisher for the review code.

The Wonder Boy Collection is a rather curious assortment of titles, especially as it fails to include either of the number three entries in the series (don’t ask, it’s complicated) and their relegation to the aforementioned limited physical release is somewhat puzzling.

That being said, all four of the games here have had a ton of love poured into them. The visuals are crisp and look far better than the originals, and there’s even the addition of save states, rewind, tweakable difficulty settings, and even a gallery – albeit a rather sparse one. The latter seems to be a result of the removal of the other entries in the series and it stands out like a sore thumb. Whether or not ININ games will offer the other titles as a separately purchasable expansion somewhere down the line remains to be seen, but I sure hope they do as it seems odd to have a collection that omits some pretty major titles.

Regardless, we’re left with these four games. The best way of evaluating their worth is providing each with their own mini-review, so here it goes:


I have a lot of nostalgia for the original Wonder Boy. As one of my handful of Game Gear titles, I found myself playing the first couple of worlds pretty often during car journeys. I’d get as far as a boss or two and then it was time to turn it off. 

The version used in this collection is the arcade release, so I was blown away by just how impressive it looked when I first booted it up. It looked phenomenal. The default button mapping was a little bit wonky, but after a quick swap around I found myself good to go – and it was just as fun as ever.

Wonder Boy feels a little bit like an auto runner to an extent, mainly because you’ll find yourself holding right pretty much 99% of the time as you jump over or throw hammers at incoming enemies. There’s a timer constantly ticking away that forces you to keep moving, so the pressure is constantly on – especially in the later stages. Killing enemies or collecting fruit will help add extra time, but a lot of the game will be down to either good reactions or memorisation. Movement can be a little floaty, making it tricky to make precise jumps, but at least you have the rewind in this if you don’t want to start back from the next checkpoint due to a simple mistake.

It’s a pretty addictive game that will suck you in, but it does go on for a little bit too long. After revisiting the same locations on multiple occasions and fighting the same boss again and again, you’ll probably have had enough long before the credits. The difficulty also gets a little bit too much in the later stages, with some occasional silly pixel perfect jumping later on.  Finding all the dolls (no easy feat) will unlock a final world, but by that point you probably just want to get the game finished. Wonder Boy is a really fun game to play, it’s just not a fun one to actually beat.  


The sequel marks a turning point for the series, as the game ditches the gameplay of the original for something resembling more of a traditional action RPG. The story follows on from the main game, with Wonder Land being at peace for a substantial amount of time – until the MEKA Dragon comes and starts causing trouble. The people turn to Wonder Boy, who is now a teenager, and give him a sword telling him that he has to go face the monsters. 

After acquiring your sword, the game quickly shows off what to expect from the game: extremely close quarters combat and some rudimentary platforming. What makes this more of an RPG is that you can collect coins from either defeated foes or hidden around the level in order to purchase upgrades from shops. Shields will help block attacks, armour helps reduce damage, boots increase your general agility, and so on. It can be quite tough trying to scrounge money together, but the upgraded equipment is certainly worth it.

Unlike the SEGA Ages release on the Switch, this version is the arguably visually superior arcade version; as such, it was designed to suck money from the player. The main way it does this is by being punishingly difficult at times. Some enemies and bosses are incredibly hard, and one later boss was so tricky that I doubted that I’d even be able to do it with rewind. The close ranged nature of the combat combined with some extremely punishing enemies make the game pretty challenging as it goes on, and the kicker is that there’s an hourglass in the corner continually ticking away with it taking a heart from you every time it runs out. It does remove some of the fun from what could have been an excellent game otherwise, but thankfully the rewind function does help alleviate the stress somewhat. A cheap solution, but one I would recommend doing since the game hardly plays fair!


Wonder Boy in Monster World is a game that I have owned on the Mega Drive for many years. I’ve also had it on various SEGA collections throughout the years, and now I am finally forced to play more than the first five minutes. This version, unlike the other three games in the collection, doesn’t offer anything new compared to the one already available on the Switch, but at least it’s available on a much tidier front-end than the Sega Mega Drive Classics collection.

Tom-Tom is now gone-gone, replaced with Shion, instead. The timeline isn’t clear, but presumably generations have passed since the events of the previous games (including the ones not included in the package) and the has now been renamed as Monster World. Regardless, monsters have invaded the land, ravaging the towns and even kidnapped the princess of Purapril. The Fairy Queen Eleanora has prayed for help, and you respond to the call.

The game starts off feeling a bit like a remake of Wonder Boy in Monster Land with the opening screens being almost identical, but with a shinier coat of paint. The art style was a little bit off-putting at first, as I much preferred the look of the previous title, but it does get better after progressing through the starting areas. Towns, caves, forests, and the like all have a rather charming art style and that extends to most of the enemies too. Whilst some foes, like the snakes, look a bit crappy, I liked the look of most enemies . especially the beautiful looking bosses.

The game plays very similarly to Monster Land for the most part, but with some key differences. The timer is gone now (yay) and the difficulty in general has been toned down somewhat, whilst still remaining a challenge. There are some tricky sections, including a pretty stressful underwater section around the halfway mark, but nothing is even close to the obnoxious areas in the previous games. Another difference is the revamp in the inventory system. Instead of having items that you can purchase upgrades for, you buy different things and can equip them as you please via your inventory. This allows for items that are useful based on certain circumstances. The spear, for example, is a really strong weapon near the start; however, you’re unable to use a shield with it. It feels a lot more refined and works really well in practice.

I had a great time with Wonder Boy in Monster World, and ultimately preferred it to the previous two arcade entries overall; however, it’s still not my favourite in the series nor this collection.


The final game in the package is easily the most visually impressive. With absolutely stunning Arabian aesthetics and intricate animation, it truly is a sight to behold. It almost seems to good looking for a Mega Drive title. Having zero experience with the game prior made this one a rather pleasant surprise, as it is easily the standout title in the collection.

The game itself offers quite a departure from the previous entries in any ways. Not only is there now no longer a wonder boy (as made clear by its omission in the title), but the gameplay leans far more towards the platforming than the RPG side of things. Whether or not that is something you will like will be down to your preferences, but the platforming in this game has seen a vast improvement compared to the relatively straightforward nature of previous entries.

This improvement is largely down to your monstrous pet that you acquire near the start of the game. With a tap of the left bumper, you can grab a hold of him to shield you from falling dangers, you can use him to float across gaps, or even to enable a double jump. Whilst those are his basic functions, he can also interact with various things in the environment to aid your traversal. It all feels pretty satisfying, especially as there’s quite a lot of variety in each dungeon as to how he used.

The RPG element of the game largely boils down to collecting money to buy new stuff. It becomes a replacement, and you’ll have to buy back anything you had previously. Accidentally bought the Thunder Shield before the Flame Shield? Well, looks like you’ll have to do the second dungeon first unless you want to throw money away. The RPG mechanics are a little bit too streamlined, but at least there’s never any reason to grind money like there was in the previous game.

The game also simplifies its combat too, with your sword being the only weapon on hand throughout the entire game. To compensate for this, combat also feels far better and enemies are far more interesting to fight than in previous entries. Bosses in particular stand out as being a high point in the game, with some interesting (and sometimes difficult) attack patterns to figure out.

Despite having some disappointing simplifications compared to previous entries, Monster World IV is still a fantastic game and probably the best of the four available in the package. It’s nice to be finally able to play the game, and it’s just as good as I hoped it would be.


The Wonder Boy Collection brings together four fantastic games in a beautifully presented package. Experiencing these games was a joy from start to finish. It’s a shame then that this ‘collection’ isn’t a complete one and is omitting a few major entries in the series. Disappointment turns to resentment when you realise that collection does exist, but is locked behind a physical only limited release. I hope the publishers see fit to set the other entries free at a later date as DLC.