Format reviewed: Sega Master System
The first steps of a big adventure are always exciting, particularly when you’re a child, and Wonder Boy In Monster Land was the first game I played that had the qualities we typically associate with RPGs. While it was fundamentally similar to the platform games I’d previously played, it offered something that they didn’t, with currency, upgradeable equipment and a world that, while linear, was still exciting to explore. Every time I turned on my Master System and took a sword to those early snakes, it felt like I was starting an epic journey. Locations such as the town overrun by mushroom enemies felt just that bit more real, because I could go into shops and interact with other characters.
Unfortunately, being a small child, I was rubbish at games and never quite beat the final dragon. But of course I know what happens at the end, and I knew long before the internet and its plot-spoiling powers got their hooks into me. Wonder Boy III: The Dragon’s Trap is well-known for repeating Wonder Boy In Monster Land’s final stage as its first stage, allowing the plot to continue directly from the events of its predecessor. It was a great move – rather than just being told what happened, I was shown the hero’s fate. It’s all too rare that we feel like our in-game actions matter, but that direct continuation made my younger self feel like what I did in Monster Land had mattered – even if I only beat the final boss when it was a first boss.