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Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom – Hardcore Gaming 101

Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom – Hardcore Gaming 101

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The title Monster Boy is a mixture of Monster World and Marvel Boy, however regardless of the smashed collectively identify, it’s undoubtedly a correct sequel to the basic Sega/Westone video games from the 80s and 90s. Each Sega and LAT, the firm that owes Westone’s IPs, are on the title display, and unique designer Ryuichi Nishizawa consulted throughout its improvement, which makes it official., which makes it official. Even when that wasn’t the case, the whole lot about Monster Boy not solely completely emulates the look and fashion of the basic video games, however improves and modernizes them in virtually each conceivable method.

The sport begins with a younger boy named Jin, quietly fishing on the seashore. Him and the complete village have been become monsters because of his uncle Nabu, who has apparently gone mad consuming “Royal Nectar”. (The deliberate subtitle, “The Wizard of Booze”, makes it fairly clear what that’s imagined to be.) Jin units off of an journey to find a set of orbs that may assist break his curse, whereas additionally attending to the backside of what’s occurred to Nabu, who has turn out to be a needed felony with the native authorities. 

Monster Boy was developed by Recreation Atelier, a French firm who not solely has an enormous affection for Westone’s basic collection, however is completely versed in its language, and understands the best way to play to its strengths. The Monster World video games all had their very own strengths and weaknesses, so this recreation takes the greatest parts, and polishes and expands on them.

Like The Dragon’s Lure, the core of recreation includes becoming totally different animal varieties, every with their very own talents. The pig type (based mostly on the oddball shopkeepers / password givers from The Dragon’s Lure on the SMS) is a weak bodily attacker, however wields magic spells, which embrace the normal twister, boomerang, fireball, and lightning talents, together with bombs. He also can sniff out hidden doorways, that are sometimes indicated by clear clouds. The snake can crawl alongside sure partitions and ceilings, like the mouse from The Dragon’s Lure, however may also spit venom at a distance. The frog cannot solely swim however can even use his tongue to latch onto and swing from grappling hooks. The lion has quite a lot of sprint talents that not solely make motion simpler however allow you to smash by way of bricks. And the dragon type can each breathe hearth and fly by way of the air.

In The Dragon’s Lure, every space was designed particularly for every type – you possibly can solely change between them on demand with a hidden means. Right here, you’re continually anticipated to modify varieties to go well with the activity, typically even in the center of a leap – for instance, swinging on a couple of hooks with the frog then utilizing the lion to sprint upwards to succeed in a platform. The extent design was considered one of the few weaknesses of The Dragon’s Lure, typically simply consisting of simple, enemy-laden hallways, however right here the dungeons are full of difficult platforming puzzles, whereas recollects one thing like the basic The Legend of Zelda titles, in the event that they have been introduced from a side-scrolling perspective. The puzzles themselves are not often very troublesome (and the few which may stump you simply contain deciphering environmental clues), however truly pulling them off could be fairly a bit tougher. For instance, you may want to maneuver a block from one aspect of the room to the different, however the solely technique of shifting it’s by ramming into it, so that you must clear a path whereas nonetheless avoiding enemies. 

The enemy injury output is fairly excessive – even in the first space, you possibly can solely take two or three hits earlier than getting killed. The “angel descending into heaven” scenes from the older video games are gone, as you simply fall over and then shortly respawn at a checkpoint, however that’s since you’ll in all probability find yourself dying an entire lot. That is will in all probability be the case when overcoming the many platforming puzzles, which require fast timing and reflexes. Fortunately, stated checkpoints are recurrently positioned, not often various screens aside, so the finish result’s a recreation that’s demanding however by no means too irritating.

The sport’s gear and stat system is somewhat nearer to Marvel Boy in Monster World, in that there are solely three stats (assault, protection, and velocity), with solely three ranges. There’s nonetheless loads of helmets, shields, and fits of armor to seek out, most of those which have numerous talents both appropriate for fight (reflecting projectiles, restoring well being when taking injury, stopping standing illnesses) or are crucial for development (like double bounce boots and ice footwear that allow you to stroll on lava). Each bit of kit may also be enhanced by discovering sure jewels hidden all through the ranges. There’s loads of different issues to hunt for, too, together with truffles, that broaden the pig’s most variety of magic spells, and music sheet, that are given again to a musician on the town. This character is predicated on real-life musician Banjo Man Ollie, who will play his personal preparations of six totally different Monster World tunes, offering yow will discover all of the sheets.

Lots of the environments ought to really feel acquainted for Marvel Boy followers – the recreation opens up on a seashore, and you’ll discover a jungle, an Aztec pyramid, a volcano, and a pirate ship. The second half of the recreation has a number of different environments, together with a graveyard and a haunted home. You additionally get to infiltrate a fort jail, as you sneak previous a military of (considerably simply fooled) penguin guards, considered one of the few instances of a stealth sequence that’s truly fairly enjoyable. You meet a Pepelogoo fairly early on, and whereas he’s not a persistent presence like in Monster World IV, he does be a part of for in a few spots to assist with some puzzles. One interlude modifications right into a side-scrolling shooter a la Marvel Boy III: Monster Lair, with a well-known fish enemy at the finish.

It’s additionally a comparatively gigantic recreation. The older Monster World titles have been perhaps 5 hour experiences, and their closest trendy analogs, the Shantae collection, aren’t for much longer. However you’ll be able to anticipate to spend someplace in the space of 20 hours to beat Monster Boy, extra if you wish to seek for all of the additional goodies and gear. That is additionally the first recreation in the collection the place you get an in-game map, which additionally helpfully factors out your vacation spot.

The soundtrack is a collaboration between a number of well-known Japanese composers, with contributions by Yuzo Koshiro (Streets of Rage, Etrian Odyssey), Michiru Yamane (Castlevania), Motoi Sakuraba (Star Ocean), Keiki Kobayashi (Ace Fight) and others. A number of tunes of the soundtrack are preparations of Shinichi Sakamoto’s tunes from the older video games, primarily The Dragon’s Lure, but in addition draw from the remainder of the video games. The preparations are universally implausible, and the new tunes are wonderful as nicely, some with types harking back to basic 90s redbook soundtracks. The anime opening incorporates a considerably tacky vocal track, in each English and Japanese, nevertheless it’s each enjoyable and applicable. The visuals are a close to flawless reimagining of what the eight/16-bit artwork would appear to be in HD. The sprites are colourful and filled with character, and the backgrounds are intricately detailed. There are many bizarre shopkeepers too, together with a sunglasses-wearing, Hawaiian shirt-clad shark.

The builders’ love of Monster Boy actually shines via, with the heroes from the older video games being proven on stained glass home windows on the native chapel, and their relics enjoying pivotal position as nicely. However past the reverence paid to the story and characters of the previous video games, Recreation Atelier actually understood what made these video games work. For instance, these bouncing arrows have been all the time plenty of enjoyable, so there are many areas the place you’ll be able to boing throughout the room. Structurally, it actually will get it proper – at the starting of the recreation on the seashore, you’ll be able to technically discover the space beneath the water… although you possibly can’t truly do a lot till you get the applicable talents, it gives a tantalizing reminder of what you’ll ultimately uncover. Plus, it additionally understands the pacing of the end-game – revisiting previous areas utilizing the Lion’s sprint means or the Dragon’s flight capability makes backtracking a breeze. Plus, whereas there’s a compulsory quest close to the finish to assemble a bit of kit, you’re solely required to craft one piece. You’re additionally given clues on the place to look, plus you’re capable of acquire most of them earlier in the journey when you have been paying consideration. This avoids the tedium in different situations, like the dreaded Triforce quest from The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker. There’s a ton of hidden stuff too, although a number of issues are so obscure they’re almost unattainable to unravel with no information.  

Monster Boy is a specific rarity in that it’s not solely a pitch-perfect reboot of an extended dormant property, however it’s additionally an exemplary recreation in its personal proper, simply rating extremely subsequent to different huge identify Metroidvanias like Tremendous Metroid and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night time. And with the reputation of the style amongst indie builders as of the 2010s, that’s an incredible praise.

DISCLAIMER: The writer of piece and editor of HG101, Kurt Kalata, is credited underneath “Special Thanks” in the credit for Monster Boy. In full disclosure, he was in communication with Recreation Atelier to assist promote the Flying Hamster 2 Kickstarter (see the reverse web page), and then launched the group to Marvel Boy creator Ryuichi Nishizawa, who gave the venture his blessing, and which started the steps to the recreation turning into a real Monster World recreation. He has no monetary stake in the recreation, aside from receiving complimentary digital copies (although he purchased the PS4 retail launch anyway).

Associated recreation: Flying Hamster – Cellular, PSP, Vita (2010)

Recreation Atelier’s first recreation was Flying Hamster, a cellular shoot-em-up starring an lovable rodent named Newton. The primary gimmick is that there are over 30 weapons, sometimes issues from the setting, which might be used as weapons. Apples, eggs, mugs of beer, and all types of issues could be consumed and then spit again to assault the legion of cutesy foes. There are additionally two sorts of assaults – a regular speedy hearth barrage, and a cost assault. The quantity of ammo you get per pickup is fairly small, so it’s straightforward to (actually) chew via them and find yourself again together with your default assault, however gadgets are discovered recurrently, and even respawn in boss battles to make sure you’re by no means too underpowered.

The sport does have a euroshmup really feel, with pretty simple degree designs populated by waves of enemies. It will get by on its completely charming visuals, as Newton takes on quite a lot of foolish enemies in assorted locales, starting from forests to jungles to the streets of Japan, the place you even battle a mouse modeled after superstar Onerous Homosexual.

It’s a bit easy, because it was initially designed for the contact controls of cell phone platforms, nevertheless it’s properly designed, and the excessive decision visuals sparkle. For many who’d want common controls, it was later ported to each the PlayStation Moveable and PlayStation Vita, with the latter providing crisper graphics.

Monster Boy was initially conceived in 2014 as Flying Hamster II: Knight of the Golden Seed (under) although it was all the time meant to be an homage to the Marvel Boy/Monster World collection. Regardless of the style shift, it was additionally mimicking the similar method through which the unique Marvel Boy was an arcade-style title, and then the sequel shifted extra in the direction of RPG territory. The crowdfunding marketing campaign attracted the consideration of writer FDG Leisure, who funded the recreation over the subsequent 4 years. Throughout that point, they have been additionally capable of get hold of the Monster World license, together with its characters and music, giving it an additional layer of authenticity. It additionally allowed for visuals that improved considerably over its improvement.

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