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Monster World 4 is one of those “hidden gems” that aren’t actually very hidden. It’s a fairly popular Genesis game, and one of the more famous entries in the convoluted mess that is the “Monster World” (...and "Wonder Boy") series. While I don’t think MW4 is the perfect gem it gets propped up to be, it’s a charming little game that’s hard to not like.
As this game was part of my search to find more “RPG Platformers” akin to Zelda 2, I do have to say: it definitely delivered on that aspect. The way Asha (the protagonist) controls is excellent– she truly fits the action-platfomer mold. While most mechanics are fairly simple, the game design shines with the introduction of your blue, furry, cat-bird (?) looking friend, the Pepelogoo. This thing is the bread and butter behind pretty much the entire game. Double jumping and gliding with him feels great, giving both platforming and combat a much appreciated boost, and using the ‘lil guy to solve puzzles makes the dungeon design rather good. The meaty and full feeling of the first dungeon genuinely impressed me– I wasn’t expecting the game to capture that feeling so flawlessly.
Other parts of the typical “RPG” experience are intact in this platformer rendition of the formula, too. The whole game revolves around a singular town, Rapadanga, and seeing the residents be quirky when you first arrive and get even quirkier when the plot progresses is delightful. I love the townspeople so much. And in general, the overall story in MW4 is better than you’d might expect. If Battle Mania Daiginjou is an OVA, then Monster World 4 feels like a renaissance Disney film or some other similar kids movie. The accompanying Pepelogoo plushie would sell millions.
But… as many praises I can sing for the game, there’s a big underlying issue behind it all. The second half of the game. Pretty much every good thing about the gameplay completely vanishes the moment you get to the Ice Pyramid dungeon, and it never fully recovers from there. It’s a tedious, time-wasting and terribly boring part of the game. I struggled to want to play more past it after completing it. Nothing is quite that bad after— some of the best moments in the story happen right after that, in fact. But the very end of the game is rough, too. The final dungeon isn’t Ice Pyramid bad, but it sucks and doesn’t really even feel like a “final dungeon.” So much so that when the game does end, it doesn’t feel climactic or satisfying whatsoever. I think I actually said “that’s it?” out loud when I beat the final boss.
Still, Monster World 4 is such an infectiously likable game. It could have consistently bad gameplay and I’m not sure if I’d dislike it. Give it a try, especially if you like cute and digestible RPG stories opposed to long epics. Maybe one day Asha will get to star in another story…
Jump arc this, jump arc that. How about you jump off this game's dick?
Ice Climber's not anything particularly special, but I respect it far more than I ever did before. Starting quip aside, I genuinely do like the funky jumping. It's clearly designed around-- the entire game would be trivial if the physical execution of climbing was easy to do. You have to be aware what your actions will lead to because they're so committal, and I like that. It's not dissimilar to other NES games with "bad jumping controls."
I also played Ice Climber with a friend, and I have to say: the game is a surprisingly coherent multiplayer experience. Maybe one of the best on the NES. All the stuff I just said holds true, except now you have to consider the needs of another player. Getting too gung-ho and scrolling your buddy off the screen is distilled co-op essence.
There's still a lot to be desired; there's too much downtime in this game for my taste (optimal scoring, waiting for platforms to be built, etc.) and the presentation sure is that of a black box NES game, but Ice Climber's a decent little thing. I feel bad for hating on it so hard. Give it a chance!
I guarantee you this game wouldn't have this many low ratings if you didn't know they were vtubers. It's a cute, free and questionably balanced fighting game with good netcode-- and everyone loves Melty Blood.
Stop being corny.