With a name like Wonder Boy you might expect a young man with super human powers; somebody who could leap tall buildings or change history or something. But Sega's Wonder Boy is no such super hero, he's just a regular boy who wants to rescue his girlfriend from a giant island monster. After playing through Wonder Boy the only thing I was left wondering is what made this guy so wonderful in the first place.
Bad puns aside, Wonder Boy is an almost perfect port of the popular arcade game of the same name. The graphics and sound are nearly arcade exact and the controls are dead on. You get all the levels and excitement you could find in the bigger version of the game. There's little doubt that fans of the arcade version will love this translation... even if that means a few missing colors and smaller boss battles.
The problem is, Wonder Boy just isn't that wonderful of a game. Even though the controls are exactly like the arcade version, they suffer from being too unforgiving and the cause of most of your deaths. Simple activities like platform jumping and enemy dodging are turned into a frustrating experience thanks to the way this game handles. Even though it's a 2D platformer, one can't help but notice that this just feels archaic.
Wonder Boy's biggest problem lies in the absolutely abysmal level designs. It's bad enough that we're forced to play these levels once, but as you progress through the game you'll find that almost every level looks like one you've already been to. After you've beaten your first boss you'll have very little reason to actually continue, as you have already seen every background, power up, and enemy in that first level. The level of difficultly amps up after the first boss, but if you were looking for any graphics to change you will be sorely disappointed.
You might also be disappointed with the weapon system, since you basically only have one attack. Wonder Boy is extremely good at assembling make-shift island hammers, a weapon that comes in handy when trying to kill spiders and anything else that gets in his way. Boy Wonder can also strap on a helmet and race through the level with a skateboard, but it won't take long before you see that the skating experience is more of a downgrade than anything. There's also a little fairy that makes you invulnerable to attack, but if you're impressed by that you're impressed by anything!
I suppose Sega should get some points for giving Master System owners an arcade perfect port of Wonder Boy, but with uninspired level designs, terrible controls, and dull power ups, this just isn't one adventure most people want to relive. Master System owners looking for a 2D platformer in the same vein as Super Mario Bros. need look elsewhere... this isn't even close.