Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom is a spiritual successor and sequel to Sega’s Wonder Boy series from the late 80s. Developers Game Atelier in collaboration with FDG Entertainment and Sega have created a 2D platforming classic for 2018 and Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom will surely win the love and affection of Nintendo Switch gamers everywhere with its charming aesthetic and great gameplay.
Being created in collaboration with the original Wonder Boy creator, Ryuichi Nishizawa, Game Atelier have crafted a 2D platforming game that is a perfect fit for the Nintendo Switch. In Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom, players will take on the role of Jin, the blue haired protagonist that lives in Monster World. Jin’s uncle Nabu seems to have lost his mind and goes on a magic wand fueled rampage turning everyone he encounters into monsters. It’s up to Jin to find out why his uncle is doing this and put an end to his reign of terror.
Gameplay in Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom is where the title excels. Being a 2D platformer, the game has a lot to live up to. 2D platforming has changed over the years and it’s no longer a simple task of just jumping around and defeating enemies. Game’s such as Dead Cells have introduced roguelike elements to 2D platforming and as such traditional platforming games have had to adapt to keep themselves fresh in a gaming environment that’s different to what was seen 20+ years ago. So how does Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom handle this? The answer lies in its sheer amount of different gameplay elements available.
As Jin ventures forth into the Monster World, he’ll soon be able to make use of various items. From boots, to shields to flame spells, Jin is a crafty individual and is able to make use of different gear to get through the danger filled world he lives in. Additionally, as the game goes on, Jin will be able to transform himself into a range of different creatures, these being a pig, frog, lion, dragon and snake.
Transforming into these creatures is not without reason. Each of the creatures has their own special abilities that Jin must utilize to get through the rather massive world. For example, in the Wonder Boy familiar pig form, Jin is able to sniff out hidden objects whereas while in the frog form, Jin is able to swing around using his extendable tongue. Combine this with spells that Jin can learn and cast, even with their limited charges, and you have a whole host of options available that can be used for combat or platforming alike.
Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom’s gameplay is exceptionally good because of the various item effects, enemy types and the added bonus of Jin’s transformations being essential to progressing further in the game. Being able to strap on heavy boots and sink to the bottom of the ocean and then resurface elsewhere and use a fire or lightning spell to get to a hidden chest is something that’s incredibly rewarding. This continues through the game with specific areas requiring your newly acquired magic or transformation skills to get through. Some light RPG elements are also featured with certain characters giving you quests to complete and equipment/item management being necessary at times. The Legend of Zelda games comes to mind in this regard and that’s not a bad thing for a game to emulate.
The game is by no means a walk in the park though with various sections requiring either good gaming skills or out of the box thinking to get past. The boss battles are also great with some of the most dastardly enemy tactics known to mankind being thrown at you at times. Thankfully though, the game is very forgiving with its checkpoint system and never gets too annoying despite being quite hard at points.
The soundtrack to Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom is quite plain and simply described as amazing. Having extremely well renowned Japanese composers at the helm such as Motoi Sakuraba, Yuzo Koshiro, Michiru Yamane, Keiki Kobayashi, and Takeshi Yanagawa means that the game has a range of tracks that are both memorable and just so great to listen to while playing. The game’s anime intro song is also available in both English and Japanese and is quite catchy in both forms to be quite honest. It’s just a shame that not every single interaction in the game is voiced but this can be forgiven.
Graphically, the hand-drawn sprites used in the game as well as the backgrounds are both vivid, colourful and incredibly detailed. The different environments you’ll traverse throughout the game are so well crafted that there are times where you will definitely want to just sit and admire the gorgeousness of it all.
Overall, Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom is a great 2D platforming title with gameplay that’s rich and engaging due to the various gameplay elements it fuses together. Changing between human and monster forms to solve platforming puzzles has never been so good and probably won’t ever be as good as this for a long time to come. This coupled with the fact that the game runs buttery smooth on Nintendo Switch and is a graphical feast for the eyes makes Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom a must buy for fans of the genre.
Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom is Developed by The Game Atelier & FDG Entertainment, Published by Sega, FDG Entertainment and is available on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows.