Monday 25 March 2013

Bikkuriman World / Wonder Boy in Monster Land - PC Engine - 1987

The last game on my shortlist was Wonder Boy for the Sega Master System.  It left me somewhat underwhelmed so I wasn't really looking forward to this one.  Bikkuriman World is essentially a conversion of the arcade game Wonder Boy in Monster Land.  Some of the graphics have been redrawn to fit in with the Bikkuriman anime franchise, hence the title. Bikkuriman World was only released in Japan for the PC Engine, so any text is in Japanese.  Fortunately Wonder Boy in Monster Land was on my shortlist for the Sega Master System in 1988.  The SMS game didn't match up to the PC Engine in terms of sound and graphics (so didn't make the blog) but did help with the translation.

Bikkuriman World on the left. Wonder Boy in Monster Land arcade version (centre) and Master System version (right)

In Wonder Boy in Monster Land the plot involved killing monsters and demons that inhabit the land, then ultimately a dragon.  I'm guessing Bikkuriman World is much the same due to it's close similarity to the arcade original.

You start the game by collecting your sword and a potion (extra life) from an old man in a tree stump.  The sword is called a gradius, but I'm sure they must have meant gladius.  You can then set off through the twelve levels defeating monsters and bosses along the way.  When you defeat monsters they drop a coin or a money bag (or other sundry items for bonus points).  Coins can also be collected by jumping up and down in certain secret spots throughout the levels. This gold can be used in shops to purchase useful items such as boots, armour, shields, magic weapons and energy top ups.  

One of the many shops.

If you are hit by a monster your life meter starts decreasing which is depicted by a series of hearts.  When all the hearts turn black it's game over.  The first time your heart meter empties the potion you got at the beginning of the game gives you another life.  Each level also has quite a strict time limit.  The time limit is displayed by way of an hourglass to the left of the screen.  If this runs out your life meter decreases, although small hourglasses can be picked up to refill the timer.  There are also various bosses to defeat along the way, some easier than others. Some bosses need to be beaten to advance to the next level, others can be bypassed but may drop a useful item if killed - such as a broadsword from a boss in the caves early on.

This boss leaps around spawning toadstools and is a bugger to beat.

Overall Bikkuriman World is a neat little game.  The graphics, though simple, are bright, well animated and well drawn.  The levels are also nicely varied and the scrolling is very smooth.  The music is good and changes for different levels while the sound effects suit the game well.  I think the learning curve is just about right, except where it spikes for certain bosses (such as the one above). Also bear in mind that this is an arcade conversion and as such games can be quite short as there is no saving.  You can, however, use continue to start again from the level where you last died.


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