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Romier S

Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom (PS4, Switch, Xbox One, PC)

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Anyone else playing this? I've heard incredible things from a few respected sources on the retro side of the things. I finally picked it up on the PS4 and am about 20% into it and it is, in fact AMAZING. Seriously, if you have not tried this yet, it is worth every penny of your money. For those unaware, it's a new entry in the Monster Boy/Wonder Boy series that was famous on Sega's consoles (SMS and Genesis in particular). The games have always been of the action/RPG variety with a good dose of exploration and a great underlying art style.

 

This new game veers into the Metroid/Castlevania style. Yes I know its an overdone genre but FDG/Game Atelier have produced one of the most brilliantly designed versions of this game I've ever encountered and I'm only 1/5th into it. You get upgrades at a regular pace which keeps things interesting. The different animal forms introduce an entirely new style of gameplay for every "level" you visit and there's secrets to discover everywhere you look. The pacing is just flat perfection thus far and the puzzles are designed well enough to stump you but not frustrate.

 

Did I mention the game is beautiful in motion? Oh and my god the music. Take a look at this list of composers who produced music for this game:

 

Yuzo Koshiro (Streets of Rage series, Revenge of Shinobi, ActRaiser)

Motoi Sakaruba (Star Ocean, Valkyrie Profile, Super Smash Bros, Golden Sun, Baiten Kaitos games and more)

Michiru Yamane (Castlevania series including Symphony of the Night, Portrait of Ruin, Lament of Innocence, Suikoden and more)

Keiki Kobayashi (Tekken 4/7, Soul Calibur 4, Ace Combat and Starfox Zero)

Takeshi Yanagawa (Shenmue 2, Etrian Odyssey series)

 

It's veritable who's who of the Japanese elite videogame composers community.

 

If the game maintains its current standard throughout, it may very well be an early 2019 GOTY candidate for me. Yes, I know it came out last year but I don't care. It's that good so far.

 

A trailer:

 

 

 

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Finished! I did every last possible thing I could in the game....

 

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As you can see, this is my 15th platinum trophy to boot. I absolutely adored this game. It will indeed be in my 2019 game or the year list when it’s all said and done. It’s that good. The indie gaming scene is rife with metroidvania style games. With and without rogue like elements and with their own gimmicks to set them apart. It’s an extremely oversaturated genre. Monster Boy is metroidvania perfected. It’s a rare game that comes remotely close to this one in terms of sheer brilliance in its level design and puzzles. The haunted manor later in this game may be one of the most amazing 2D puzzle levels ever conconcted on a gaming platform. That is not hyperbole folks. The game just kept getting better and better as it went on and I couldn’t put it down. Nearly 25 hours later here we are and I’m ecstatic to add this one to my collection. In fact, I may double dip for the Switch version so that I have the pleasure of having this on the go.

 

It looks amazing, plays like a dream and the music will be stuck in your head for days. I couldn’t give this a higher recommendation. Put down whatever you’re playing and buy this now. Trust me, you’ll thank me later. 

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I'd never heard of this, but looks really good. Not much time to play lately, but I added it to my wishlist. 

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That's a surprisingly high ratio, but does seem to make sense with the design and aesthetic of the game. I think it's also because the game is $40 which is high for an "indie" game on PSN for example, but fits in better with the Nintendo ecosystem pricing.

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I think you missed the key part - it’s portable on the Switch and there’s no visual difference between the platforms. They all run 1080p60 (when Switch is docked). So having the ability to have it on the go even at 720p is the likely selling point. I’ll likely double dip when the game hits a sale for the Switch version for that very reason, frankly. 

 

I got it on PS4 because I planned to play it on my main home theater, controller preference and trophies. I wanted to try for the Platinum. I’d really love for a Nintendo to add a trophy/points system to their platform. It would drive me towards the Switch with these types of games and it would use me to finally spring for a Pro controller ($70 is ridiculous for it though).

 

Either way, I’m ecstatic the game is finding an audience regardless of the platform! Everyone should play it. I can’t sing it’s praises enough.

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I'm glad you started the thread. I've been a little out of the loop, but this thread is still the only mention of it I've organically run into. I hope it can get more attention. 

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I’ve always liked the series and had my eye on it before release. Never got around to it until now. Same for the Dragon’s Trap remaster that hit last year that I bought alongside Cursed Kingdom and plan to dive into soon.  By the way, Lizardcube developed that remaster. Who are they? They are working on Streets of Rage 4 as we speak. :)

 

I love Wonder Boy in a Monster World on the Genesis when I was young. I can’t recommend it enough. If you want to really dive in, there is a fantastic collection of the series available under the Sega Vintage Collection label that was released on the 360 and is Xbox One BC. They were giving it away as part of Gold a little while ago but it’s superb. It collects the original Wonder Boy in Monster Land arcade game, Wonder Boy in Monster World from the Genesis and the previously Japanese only Monster World IV (Cursed Kingdom is a prequel to it). All for $10:

 

https://marketplace.xbox.com/en-us/Product/Sega-Vintage-Collection-Monster-World/66acd000-77fe-1000-9115-d80258410b72

 

Oh and M2 developed it so the emulation simply does not get better. Its worth your money if you’re into retro action adventure platformers titles with RPG elements.

 

Wonder Boy III The Dragon’s Trap was on the Sega Master System and was one of its best titles. You can see the remaster here (it includes a retro mode that can be switched to with the press of a button ala Halo Anniversary. The same can be done with the soundtrack, too.)

 

 

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Oh hey, look what's on sale this week over at the eShop.

 

It's not a massive discount, mind you — only about $6.00 — but it still counts. 

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Just popping in to mention that I did buy this game on the eShop (it’s still on sale until April 25) and I started playing it today. I played for about 1 hour 45 minutes this afternoon. I’m enjoying it so far and look forward to digging into it more this week while I’m on vacation from work.

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417107728_MonsterBoyResultsScreen.thumb.jpeg.b16ae919b47c53859e36c994ccb2fee0.jpeg

 

Since I had the week off from work, I managed to actually start and finish Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom in the matter of about five days (I finished it up yesterday afternoon). Obviously, I didn’t shoot for 100% completion like Romier did, but I found enough stuff in order to defeat the final boss, and that’s good enough for me. 

 

Overall, I liked the game, but I didn’t love it. There’s a lot of good things to talk about, especially if you’re interested in a playing a big 2D Metroid-vania. The graphics, for instance, have a lot of charm and personality.  The world is big and full of hidden areas to find. The puzzles nicely straddle the line between being completely obvious and so obtuse that you need a guide to figure them out. The music has a nice retro quality to it in that the songs for each area constantly play in the background and get stuck in your head after several hours of gameplay. 

 

If there’s one aspect I didn’t care for, it was the combat. Having just played Hollow Knight and Monster Boy back-to-back, I can’t help but compare the two. For me, Hollow Knight’s was much better. There’s a certain rhythm to it that involves attacking, dashing, dodging, and jumping that I really enjoyed. It felt fresh, modern, and required a lot of skill in order to execute well. It was challenging but fair, and I never felt like the enemies took cheap shots at me.

 

Monster Boy, on the other hand, felt a lot more retro in its design. It reminded me a lot of Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, with its emphasis on high attacks, low attacks, and the need to stand and kneel in order to get the best position on an enemy. That said, it seemed like the game was really fussy about blocking enemy attacks with your shield, as I’d often take damage in situations where I felt like I should have deflected the attack, simply because I wasn’t at exactly the right angle or position. I also did not like the fact that enemies would often take cheap shots at you by freely move through walls and floors. The lack of a decent upward or downward attack — not including the upward or downward dashes of the lion form — also made the combat more frustrating than I would have liked.

 

Also, I’m mixed on how much time I spent in menus, switching between different forms, picking sub-weapons, and changing gear. I like that the game pauses the action so that I can make these choices without the pressure of having to do it while being attacked by an enemy, but it did slow down the action quite a bit. It was also common for me to hit the wrong button and bring up a menu I didn’t want or to forget to select my choice by pressing the A button.

 

On 1/6/2019 at 10:51 PM, Romier S said:

The indie gaming scene is rife with metroidvania style games. With and without rogue like elements and with their own gimmicks to set them apart. It’s an extremely oversaturated genre. 

 

I love it. After living through the dearth of good 2D games in the mid-90s through the late-00s (thanks to the advent of 3D games), I’m happy that there are so many of these types of games now. I missed them, and having several in my Pile of Shame is a blessing.

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Glad you enjoyed it, Jeff. My opinion of it is obviously much higher than yours but that's also partially to do with my general love of the overall series and the expectations I had set for it. The Monster Boy/Wonder Boy/Monster World series has never been about "modern" combat per se so while I understand the criticism in comparison to Hollow Knight, its not one that I share because of the series roots and the focus on exploration/puzzle solving being of higher importance on the pecking order scale.

 

I've spent time with Hollow Knight as well though I'll be honest and say that it didn't really grab me much in the 4/5 hours I spent with it. I feel that the level design/puzzle aspects in this game are superior hence why it holds such a special place in my heart. I'd say Ori is superior to Hollow Knight in that regard as well but that's opinions for you.

 

On the note about Metroidvania saturation - I don't disagree that having a good number of options is a good thing. The statement is meant to evoke the fact that they all tend to blur together after awhile and it's hard to stick out from pack (something I think Monster Boy does). I also think that indie developers tend to use the genre as a bit of a crutch to "deepen" their 8 or 16-bit style experiences instead of doing something more straight forward or even level based. Likely due to the fear of their game being called overly simplistic. So yeah, while I'm all for having good quality 2D Metroidvanias and Rogue-like experiences, I'm also all for a diversity of experiences in that retro/nostalgia subset of indies, too. That may also play into why I like Monster Boy so much. Yeah, its a fantastically designed Metroidvania but its also wonderfully retro in its mechanics evoking stuff from earlier games in the series perfectly.

 

If you dug the game, I'd highly recommend checking out the Sega Vintage Collection: Monster World on the Xbox One which I mentioned earlier in the thread. It features three of the top games in the series. Specifically it features a US translation of Monster World IV which never came to the states for the Genesis and is a direct sequel to Cursed Kingdom. You get some nice foreshadowing at the end of this game if you reach 100%. In the ending, Jin looks into a mirror that shows him the future and he sees a girl with green hair. That girl is Asha who is the main character in MWIV. She's also who Pepelogoo spends the game trying to find (the little blue flying dude who helps you out!).

 

Here is the link for it: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/p/sega-vintage-collection-monster-world/brl4twknvt82?activetab=pivot:overviewtab

 

You can see more of that game here:

 

 

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6 hours ago, Romier S said:

I've spent time with Hollow Knight as well though I'll be honest and say that it didn't really grab me much in the 4/5 hours I spent with it. I feel that the level design/puzzle aspects in this game are superior hence why it holds such a special place in my heart. I'd say Ori is superior to Hollow Knight in that regard as well but that's opinions for you.

 

 

One thing I did prefer about Monster Boy over Hollow Knight was the fact that it contextualized your quest better. The story is fairly straight forward and your objectives are crystal clear from the beginning. You know what you’re doing and why the whole time.

 

Hollow Knight does offer context for your quest, but it’s told through bits of lore scattered around the world rather than in cut scenes with lots of dialog. You have to piece the story together yourself, and I’ve never been very good at doing that. As a result, I spent much of my time exploring Hollownest, not really sure what my end goal was or why. It was only after I looked up a wiki that I finally understood what the story was about and what The Knight’s quest was all about.

 

It also helps that Jin is more of a character —albeit a slightly generic video game hero one — than The Knight is. Jin at least has some personality to speak of, whereas The Knight is just a mute vessel for the player to explore the world.

 

7 hours ago, Romier S said:

On the note about Metroidvania saturation - I don't disagree that having a good number of options is a good thing. The statement is meant to evoke the fact that they all tend to blur together after awhile and it's hard to stick out from pack (something I think Monster Boy does). I also think that indie developers tend to use the genre as a bit of a crutch to "deepen" their 8 or 16-bit style experiences instead of doing something more straight forward or even level based. Likely due to the fear of their game being called overly simplistic. So yeah, while I'm all for having good quality 2D Metroidvanias and Rogue-like experiences, I'm also all for a diversity of experiences in that retro/nostalgia subset of indies, too. That may also play into why I like Monster Boy so much. Yeah, its a fantastically designed Metroidvania but its also wonderfully retro in its mechanics evoking stuff from earlier games in the series perfectly.

 

I agree some variety would be nice. I would love to see a straight-up old school platformer like Mario, Sonic, or 2D Rayman from some of these indie developers at some point. Maybe there are some games like that out there, but I have not heard of them. There’s a lot of game out there right now, and its easy to miss stuff. Too many games and all that.

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