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Video Game / Wonder Boy

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A series of side-scrolling platform games developed by Sega and Westone. Originally began as a trilogy of thematically-related arcade games (Wonder Boy, Monster Land, and Monster Lair), each with drastically different play mechanics from the last. The second arcade game spun-off the Monster World sub-series on home consoles, which adapted an action RPG approach.

Consists of the following releases (refer to notes for retitles/rebrands/etc.):

Young Nastyman does not feature in this series, nor is the title in any way related to the couple of Spear Counterparts to Wonder Girl titled Wonder Boy that have appeared infrequently in Wonder Woman comics.

Wonder Boy general series tropes:

  • Aliens Are Bastards: There isn't a single non-malicious alien in the series.
  • Alien Invasion: The sneaky infiltration variety occurs in Wonder Boy in Monster Land with the reveal that the dragon leading the evil monster invasion was actually a robot crafted by aliens in flying saucers. They try it again in Wonder Boy in Monster World by brainwashing the Darkworld prince and making him the head of a new monster army. Finally, the last surviving alien tries to take over using a Hate Plague spread by cute fuzzy pets in Monster World IV. It doesn't directly come into play in The Dragon's Trap, in which Wonder Boy instead deals with the ramifications of having thwarted the first attempt.
  • Clothes Make the Legend: Quite literally with the Legendary equipment, canonically worn by each successive Wonder Boy (and Asha) since Monster Land.
  • Compilation Rerelease:
    • The Monster World: Complete Collection (PlayStation 2, Japan only) not only has all six main games, it also includes all of the cross-platforms ports (at least the ones that came out on Sega consoles) and some of the different regional releases.
    • The incomplete 2022 Wonder Boy Collection released on the PlayStation 4 and the Nintendo Switch includes the arcade versions of the first two games as well as the Mega Drive versions of Wonder Boy in Monster World and Monster World IV. The January of the next year saw the release of Wonder Boy Anniversary Collection that completely superseded it, not only including the six original games, but also all versions released in arcades and on Sega consoles.
  • Dolled-Up Installment: In Brazil, the first three games in the "Monster World" sub-series were edited and modeled after the popular comic Turma da Mônica (Monica's Gang).
  • Genre Shift: The three arcade games in the series are different from each other. The first Wonder Boy is a straightforward platformer, Monster Land is an action RPG/platformer hybrid, and Monster Lair is an Auto Scrolling platformer with Shoot 'Em Up segments. All of the console sequels though, stuck to the action RPG/platformer format of Monster Land.
  • Hijacked by Ganon: Each new threat of evil monsters turns out to be yet another world conquest attempt by the technologically-advanced space aliens from the previous game. Averted in Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom, where the main threat is otherworldly in nature and no aliens are present.
  • Inconsistent Dub: The spelling of "Purapril", the name of the second player character in Wonder Boy III: Monster Lair and later a recurring name for many characters across the series, is inconsistent in the English translation. This name is kept as is for the Purapril Castle in Wonder Boy in Monster World. In the English release of Monster World IV in 2014, the Queen of Rapadagna is dubbed Prapril XIII, which would've been a more proper romanization if it weren't for that her name is a Continuity Nod. Its 2021 remake, Asha in Monster World, changed her name again into Praprill XIII.
  • Legacy Character:
    • Boy from the original game, Bocke Lee Temjin (AKA Book the Hero) from Monster Land and The Dragon's Trap, and Shion from Monster World (at least in the comic) have been called Wonder Boy, and as a result, the former two have been confused for each other until Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom finally disconfirmed it. In any case, Leo from Monster Lair and Jin from Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom are clearly different characters, and Purapril and Asha are girls, thus obviously unfit for the "Wonder Boy" title.
    • Likewise, Shiela Purapril from Monster World and Purapril XIII (or "Praprill XIII") from Monster World IV are both separate from the Monster Lair heroine (seemingly Purapril I).
  • Limited-Use Magical Device: In Wonder Boy fantasy games, magic is single use though the Boomerang magic doesn't disappear from your inventory if you manage to catch it.
  • Medieval European Fantasy: Wonder Boy in Monster Land to Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom all have this setting with the exception of Monster World IV, which features an Arabian Fantasy setting instead.
  • Metroidvania: After experimenting with different genres, the series settled for this form with The Dragon's Trap.
  • Non-Linear Sequel: The series is famous for its constant Genre Shift, setting change, and general inconsistency between the games (not helped by that there are two games carrying the "Wonder Boy III" title), with only a scant few references to one another to imply that they all belong to the same series. It wasn't until Monster World IV (the last game developed by Westone) that it started to have a linear continuity of some kind, as that game is explicitly established as a Distant Sequel to its predecessor, Wonder Boy in Monster World, and the story has a plot relevance to it.
  • Oddly Named Sequel 2: Electric Boogaloo: The lineage of the series is hard to keep track of thanks in part to the various name changes each installment has gone through between localizations, cross-platform ports and licensed remakes made by other companies.
  • Outside-Genre Foe: Most of the games present the initial premise of a heroic youth fighting to save the land from an army of evil monsters in a Medieval fantasy setting. Their final levels then swerve the setting with the reveal that the leader of the monsters was being controlled by extra-terrestrial aliens with robots and flying saucers.
  • Recurring Riff: Multiple tracks will get reused in some form in different games, but "Last Dungeon" is probably the most iconic, appearing in four of the five Monster World titles. Monster World IV is the lone exception, but the theme for the final area does borrow a riff from it.
  • Sudden Name Change: The setting's name was suddenly changed from "Monster Land" to "Monster World" as the sequels and ports went on. Notably, The Dragon's Trap includes both interchangeably (the remade text even went with the former in English and the latter in Japanese). And according to the Monster Land Master System manual, it was formerly known as "Wonder Land" before the dragon and his monsters invaded. For the most part, the series settled with Monster World, or "Monster World Kingdom" in Monster Boy.
  • Title Confusion: There are two games titled "Wonder Boy III" and both are justified since they're the third Wonder Boy games for their corresponding platforms. Monster Lair was the third arcade game and The Dragon's Trap was the third Master System game. Officially speaking, the latter is known as Monster World II in Japan, where it is recognized as the fourth Wonder Boy game, since the following game (Wonder Boy in Monster World) was called Wonder Boy V: Monster World III over there.
  • To Be Continued: The original versions of Monster Land and Monster World explicitly end this way.
  • Winged Soul Flies Off at Death: Happens to the many protagonists throughout the series when they die.