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Wonder Boy

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Released: 1987

Genre: Platformer

Format reviewed: Commodore 64

Publisher: Activision

Developer: Sega

Wonder Boy

Wonder Boy on the C64 was originally lambasted upon release for no good reason – particularly by a leading magazine at the time which i won’t mention (but it rhymes with Bbap!) and I’m about to set the record straight for once, dammit.

Now I won’t mince words or meat here : Wonder Boy was my favourite platformer game on the beige breadbox and I could never understand why it never received more credit than what it did. Were certain videogame journalists not paid off, or perhaps not given certain promised liveries which upset their little red cart to the point where they would give the game almost precisely half the score it deserved? Or were they perhaps simply too roaringly drunk the night they had to write up the review? I will let the reader decide, because surely you will also agree with me that this game was given the red-headed-stepson treatment, to the max.

The titular character is a caveman-boy who must rescue his girlfriend Tina from the clutches of the Dark King : a boss character who enjoys wearing an assortment of masks, perhaps out of guilt, so as to not reveal his true identity. Through forests, oceans, caves and ice palaces, Wonder Boy must utilise his trusty stone hatchet to destroy oncoming foes, and selectively optimise his plight by taking advantage of such things as skateboards and ‘angel’ hatching eggs, those of which allow a short but tremendously enjoyable run of invincibility.

I actually preferred the C64 version to its arcade counterpart, even though there were some issues with it, primarily the sprites which could have done with a little more definition, and the repetitive tune which was rendered too droning as opposed to perhaps being a little more jaunty. Otherwise I found the playability level to be spot-on, the arcade version was a tad too hard and they toned it down on the C64 to perfection. The bosses are also always fun to combat, and the game progressively hardens to just the right degree.

A classic that should have been more venerated, here I am finally settling the score and awarding the C64 version of Wonder Boy my own Gold Medal award, of 92%. WELL DONE CHAMP!!