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Video Game / Wonder Boy

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Boy and Tina in the forest with an Angel and many mooks.
See the artwork of Wonder Boy Returns

Wonder Boy is a side-scrolling platform game by Sega and Escape (now known as Westone Bit Entertainment) originally released for the arcades on April 21, 1986. The player controls Boy (aka Wonder Boy), a young boy in a tropical setting who sets out to rescue his girlfriend Tina from an Evil Witch Doctor known as Kingnote . Along the way he picks numerous power-ups such as skateboards and throwing axes while trying to maintain his vitality by eating as much food as possible.

Wonder Boy was ported to various Sega platforms such as the SG-1000, Sega Master System and the Game Gear, as well as a few 8-bit home computers (namely the Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC and ZX Spectrum). The game also received a licensed re-release for the Nintendo Entertainment System by Hudson Soft titled Adventure Island, splitting the franchise into two directions. While the Adventure Island sequels remained true to the style of the original game for the most part, the Wonder Boy sequels would take on a fantasy-themed action RPG approach.

Surprisingly, long after the announcement of Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom and the Wonder Boy: The Dragon's Trap remake, Korean company CFK released a follow-up called Wonder Boy Returns via Steam on October 12, 2016. It uses the same arcade gameplay as the original, but redesigned levels and bosses, with the main antagonist being a red devil. On November 22, 2016, the Ver 1.0 update was released to address issues players had with the initial release, and included two additional playable characters: Classic Boy and (New) Tina. Unfortunately, Wonder Boy Returns had been delisted on May 23, 2019, with an actual remake using the same assets, Wonder Boy Returns Remix, replacing it on that same date.

Tropes in the original Wonder Boy and Wonder Boy Returns/Returns Remix:

  • Ambidextrous Sprite: Tina in Returns/Returns Remix.
  • American Kirby Is Hardcore: Here is the Japanese cover art of the Mark III version, and it looks way more cheerful than its incredibly bland Master System counterpart. Now, check out the western Game Gear cover... hoo boy.
  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • Returns Remix allows you to throw three weapons on-screen as supposed to two in the original and introduces a Charged Attack ability to destroy rocks, boulders, and many enemies at once. Boy or Tina will no longer stumble and take damage if you run into specific hazards that contained hidden dolls. The dolls can appear by destroy the hazards away with charged weapons.
    • In both Returns/Returns Remix, the life counter always resets at five upon entering any stages in Normal mode, making 1-ups rather useless and serve more like limited chances to beat a single stage.
  • Artifact Title: Returns Remix is a remake of the arcade game retooled from the Returns engine which retained the playable Tina and difficulty modes, but stripped of unique assets and content; however, said removed content is teased throughout. Notably, the background behind the characters in the title screen shows snowfield and lava elements that are no longer part of an actual stage, every stage have kept the same order of unique level theme tunes intact, the same old Head Swap bosses, same old enemies, and even the same cutscenes; therefore the same red devil that you can't fight at all in Returns Remix.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: The skateboard item makes progress much faster and allows Boy to take a hit but there's no way to backtrack at will as Boy will continuously move forward and pressing left button slows him down instead.
  • Babies Ever After: The One Coin mode ending of Wonder Boy Returns Remix has an additional scene showing that Boy and Tina had four boys and four girls.
  • Battle Boomerang: Tina's weapon in Wonder Boy Returns is a boomerang instead of a stone axe.
  • Chest Monster: The spotted eggs contain a Grim Reaper-type monster. If Boy touches one, they will follow him and drain his energy meter faster. They last for a short period or until his health has two energy bars left.
  • Country Switch: The Master System port changes its title to Super Wonder Boy when played on a Japanese console.
  • Decoy Damsel: Applied in both Wonder Boy Returns and Returns Remix, after defeating the Big Bad in the very last stage, Boy finds Tina on a sun lounger. Despite not seeming to be too distressed a damsel, she is still pleased to see him and hugs him... while looking over his shoulder at the now defeated devil, who winks. The animation suggests him playing a cupid-style role in kidnapping her in the first place. Unusually for this trope, she is not malicious, albeit she did manipulate Boy.
  • Distressed Damsel: Practically every splash screen of the Master System version has Tina tied up and squirming.
  • Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male: In Wonder Boy Returns's intro, after finding Boy ogling some girls, Tina mercilessly beats him to pulp.
  • Drought Level of Doom: The extra desert levels of the Master System, where food is obviously scarce. As well as many of the later levels.
  • Dub Name Change: Boy and Tina became Tom-Tom and Tanya in the western versions of the Master System and Game Gear home ports, and King became King Drancon in the latter. In Tina's case, this may have been an attempt to distance her from her Hudson counterpart of the same name. Japanese releases and all other versions use the other names, including Returns. Despite this, Returns Remix uses the names TomTom and Tanya instead of Boy and Tina, but only when set to English; the Japanese setting and English promotional materials still refer to them as Boy and Tina.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: Wonder Boy and Returns/Returns Remix are the only games in the series to feature a prehistoric theme, not to mention the only instance where the protagonist does not handle a sword... unless one counts the Adventure Island series as the true successor to the original game, in which case the basic changes include the protagonist given a new identity, the redesigned damsel in distress, and the antagonist replaced by other villains.
  • Easy-Mode Mockery: The Practice mode in Returns Remix has you play as Tina with an unlimited Angel through all stages, and your reward for beating it is... the intro cutscene from Returns! Ouch.
  • Fantasy Helmet Enforcement: Picking up the skateboard power-up will automatically garb you in safety gear too, which only stops one hazard but heaven forbid it sets a bad example.
  • Fashion Dissonance: The game set in prehistoric times, yet there's modern items like a skateboard, a helmet, cake, and Tina's accessories that King stole. Averted in Returns/Returns Remix as the characters had been redesigned with more modern costumes and hairstyles, the endings didn't try to hide the moderness of in-universe lifestyles too.
  • Guide Dang It!: Some of hidden dolls are impossible to find without some sort of guide because not only some hazards needed to stumbled on which is damaging Boy off & needed to wear off skateboard item as well as not using Invincibility Power-Up to appear, but it's also trial & error process due to undisguishable the hazards are & in worst case scenario, resulting Boy to lose a life. Sometimes, it was hidden inside right-facing frog without killing it! Thankfully Returns Remix removes this issue, but the guide still needed.
  • Hard Mode Filler: All of the boss stages use the exact same template with different enemy and item placement, and most of the other level templates are reused at least once.
  • Head Swap: In Wonder Boy and Returns Remix, King in each world is literally the same boss with a different head. After being defeated he changes to his next head. This was averted in Returns that featured many big creatures which were has been controlled by the red devil to attack the heroes in their way.
  • I Was Told There Would Be Cake: Zig-Zagged. In the original arcade and Wonder Boy Returns/Returns Remix, the fruits can be turned into modern era food and beverages, as well as boost up the item score ten times if you touch a mushroom item in certain eggs. This wears off after you die. This doesn't apply in the Master System port graphic-wise, but the multiply item score is still in effect nonetheless.
  • Invincibility Power-Up: Certain normal eggs contain an Angel. If Boy touches one, they will give him invincibility in short period and allows the player to gain score chains by running through various enemies and hazards. Boy will do the V-sign pose if he runs long enough without jumping or throwing an axe.
  • Limited Animation: Initially. The moment the first trailer of Returns came out was sight to behold of how choppy the in-game animation sprites were for almost everything.
  • Market-Based Title
    • The Mark III version was titled Super Wonder Boy, presumably to distinguish it from the earlier SG-1000 version released exclusively in Japan, since the Mark III was backwards-compatible with all SG-1000 games (also doubles as an Updated Re-release, as two extra areas were added and the dolls were given purpose besides points).
    • For some reason, the Game Gear version (based on the above release) was titled Revenge of Drancon in North America (it was simply called Wonder Boy everywhere else).
  • Moon Rabbit: In one night-time forest stage in Returns.
  • One-Hit-Point Wonder: The only actions that don't result in instant death are tripping over rocks and encountering The Grim Reaper-type monster from spotted eggs.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: If Fashion Dissonance wasn't enough, Returns bring new mooks in a castle level, one of them is zombie (see the right-below artwork on main page) that wears scratched shirt & denim jeans.
  • Point of No Continues: The arcade version doesn't allow you to continue anymore once you reach the final area.
  • Power-Up Letdown: On some levels, the skateboard's speed becomes a liability as it makes timing jumps between platforms more difficult. Downplayed in Returns/Returns Remix as, like its divorced series counterpart sequels, it is only used once per level.
  • Promoted to Playable: Tina in Wonder Boy Returns (Ver 1.0) and Wonder Boy Returns Remix.
  • Put on a Bus:
  • Reformulated Game: The SG-1000 version is essentially a different game, with its own (smaller) set of original stages and music. The same goes for the home computer version (released for Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC and ZX Spectrum). Wonder Boy Returns is also marketed as a remake, but features an entirely different set of stages as well, complete with exclusive themes and hazards.
  • Remember the New Guy?: The girl that brings you to bonus level in Master System port is Tina's sister, Pina; this is only explained in the Japanese Sega Mark III manual as well as the Japanese Wii Virtual Console description page. Also the aforementioned girls in the intro cutscene of Returns above have no any significant information about them whatsoever.
  • True Final Boss: In the Arcade and Master System versions, the true final area and King's true form can only be reached by collecting all of the dolls hidden throughout the game.
  • Wizard Needs Food Badly: Boy has to stay well fed, or else he'll die; if he dies of hunger, you'll be told "NO VITALITY !!".