Hey! As it turns out, with this whole quarantine thing going on, all those people endlessly hounding me looking for romance actually back off for a bit, which means I’ve actually got some time for my hobbies for the time being. Now, I’m a man with many irons in the fire, so that doesn’t mean I can devote everything I have to games just yet, but I have been able to get in a bit more time than usual. And I’ve got some thoughts. As I do about everything. And as all my thoughts are, they are absolutely genius. So I thought I’d share. My gift to you. So here’s another installment of Snap Judgements. Many games! Short reviews! Three paragraph max! Let’s go!
Monster Boy in the Cursed Kingdom
I have to thank Red Metal for this one. He gave a great review of this game himself, one of his very rare 9/10s, then got it into my hands. And you know what? Turns out Red Metal knows what he’s talking about.
So this is an officially licensed and assisted indie-produced sequel to the Wonder Boy franchise. Fan-made products can be a real mixed proposition. Enjoying a game, even enjoying a game deeply, doesn’t give you a great insight into how to build one, and the flavor of any creative work requires such a sensitive balance that is not always apparent to its consumer. So yeah, when you have the fans creating the new media in an established franchise, sometimes it’s good, sometimes it ends up incredibly misguided. And this game, and I say this as someone with barely any history with the Wonder Boy series, is good. Even outside the Wonder Boy history, this stands alone as an absolutely fantastic game. At its core, it’s a very tightly designed Metroidvania built around a character transformation mechanic, where you get a number of different forms with a number of different combat and traversing abilities. It’s a little hard to describe what makes the game work exactly, it’s just really well-designed. You get to use abilities in a lot of really creative ways, but ways that they have great visual cues to indicate to you. Presentation is excellent, with beautiful visuals and music, and gameplay is generally tight. A lot of it works like a more responsive classic Castlevania, you’re up against a bunch of enemies with rather defined movement and attack patterns while your most reliable attack has a very specific range and spread that you need to manage constantly, although you do have resources and tools to extend of change that range. The world is also generally a joy to navigate, and again, it has some really creative puzzles before you.
Which is not to say there’s not some faults in it. It does have some issues. Checkpoints aren’t always convenient, and the game has a big problem with not giving enough health recovery out. The economy gets to be a bit of a problem in the end game, and you don’t get enough money naturally to get everything you might need or want. And the ability progression is a little lopsided, to the point that once you get your late game forms and equipment, you don’t have a reason to use the unique features of your earlier ones unless the game forces you to. But really, it is an absolutely marvelous game, even for someone who’s not a Wonder Boy fan by any means.Continue reading