Charming Wonder Boy spiritual successor Monster Boy And The Cursed Kingdom did well for itself on consoles, and now us PC folks can play a free slice of it (with saves transferrable to the final game) while we wait for the full release. Developed by Game Atelier, what it lacks in official Wonder Boy branding, it makes up for in original series creator Ryuichi Nishizawa being involved in production. It’s a bright and bouncy Metroid-ish adventure, with bucketloads of weapons, tools and transformation powers to collect. You can play the demo here on Steam, or see a trailer below.
Many heroes’ journeys begin with some great tragedy, or falling into possession of a prophesied magic sword or somesuch. Monster Boy And The Cursed Kingdom begins with your uncle getting drunk and going on a public bender with his magic wand out. I mean that in the most literal, kid-friendly way. He’s still drunk as a skunk, but he’s also turning people into animals with spells, and generally raising a ruckus. It’s a great way to set the game’s cartoony tone – bright, friendly, bouncy and not especially perilous, even when you’re fighting a screen-filling squid.
The game has a very similar art style to Lizardcube’s excellent Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap, but isn’t held back by the archaic design of that (gorgeously hand-drawn) retro remaster. Even in the space of the demo you end up with a clever palette of skills pretty quickly, including a shield that automatically reflects projectiles so long as you’re not attacking. Even just a few minutes in, there’s reasons to backtrack to explore a bit further. I’ve yet to play the final game, but judging by the praise-laden trailer above, it looks like we’re in for a treat when the full game launches.
You can grab the Monster Boy And The Cursed Kingdom demo on its Steam page here. While there’s no release date yet beyond “2019”, it hopefully isn’t far off. No price-tag either, but the Switch version costs £35/$40 for reference’s sake. It’s published by FDG Entertainment.