I’ve wanted to start doing video stuff on the internet, streaming or Youtube or something, but I’m kind of incompetent when it comes to that stuff. My big plan for my first set of videos was “A SNES Kid Plays Genesis,” where I, an SNES kid, play Genesis games that I never encountered back in the day. I know there are a lot of games that I’ve never played, but I have purchased a couple of Genesis collections for various systems. While I wanted to do this as a series of videos, I played a game recently that left me needing to start this series now. Monster World IV is the quality of game that should make everyone who plays it tell the world.
I would call myself an SNES kid, but I actually had a Genesis first. My brothers and I got it for Christmas, probably in ’94. It came with a handful of crappy games and broken Sega CD attached. I had some good games for it, eventually. I had Sonic 2, of course, everyone who had Genesis had that. I got that 6 in one cart that had Sonic, Streets of Rage and Golden Axe on it. I also had X-Men 2: Clone Wars and The Lost Vikings. Other than a few sports games, those are all of the good Genesis games I ever had. That’s not bad. Most of the games I mentioned are very good and they kept me occupied for quite a while. But the games I wanted were all on the SNES. I wanted RPGs, and as far as I knew there weren’t any good ones on the Genesis. I know now that this was wrong. When I got the chance to pick up an SNES, I unhooked my Genesis and never looked back. Now that I am older and better informed about what games are out there, I realize that I missed out on much of what the Genesis had to offer. As I am largely giving up on new games, going back over the Genesis’ library seems like a good use of my gaming time.
I picked up Monster World IV off of PSN a couple of months ago during a sale. I’d heard good things about the entire series, but I’d never played any of them. I fired up Monster World IV on a whim the other day and couldn’t stop playing it. From the beginning I was entranced.
MW4 is a simple game, all things told. Asha, the player character, has a rather limited moveset. She can jump and stab, that’s about it. There are several different types of stabs, but she really only does those two things. For the middle portion of the game you a flying blue critter that can interact with environment in a few ways when Asha throws it. The game forces the player to make full use of that limited moveset in some creative ways.
It is also not a long game. There are essentially 6 levels. One early, easy dungeon to get players accustomed to the game, 4 elemental dungeons to free the 4 Spirits and one final gauntlet to end the game. The first and last levels aren’t much to write home about, but those four in between are aces. There is a volcano, a trio of maze-like frozen pyramids, what seems to be a floating casino and a hidden jungle temple. They are all great, though they do have their flaws.
The Pyramids are probably the most flawed. To open some door you need to put in codes, but the to find the codes you have to read inscriptions on the walls. Unfortunately, some of those inscriptions are traps that send arrows flying at you. There is no way of knowing which is which before you read them. It is less a puzzle and more just frustrating. That is a small blip on an otherwise enjoyable game. Most of the rest is like a side-scrolling Zelda. Like Zelda 2, but good. It is more of a thinking man’s game, with little in the way of twitch action required.
The game is just simply charming. Calling a game charming is often a way to describe a game that isn’t actually very good, but that is not the case with Monster World IV. The graphics just have so much personality it is hard to call it anything else. It is really apparent when you see it in motion. Asha looks like a female Aladdin, which fits with the Arabic look to the rest of the game, and she has a ton of unnecessary animations that really make the game work. The best is when you open a chest and Asha does a little dance, wiggling her butt in the cutest possible manor. It is perfect. The story is, much like the gameplay, simple. The four elemental spirits have been captured and it is up to the hero to save them. Asha decides that she is that hero, so she attempts the trial to prove it. Once she does, she has to save the spirits and the whole of monster world from a group of not at all sneaky wizards. (they tell up front they are the bad guys) It is the sort of simple yet effective story that 16-bit games did perfectly.
Monster World IV is just about perfect. There are some rough patches, but the rest of the game is just so enjoyable,so eminently playable that it is hard to hold even its biggest warts against it. Once I started, I just couldn’t stop. It is pretty much everything I want out of video games. If any of the other Genesis games on my nearly 50 games long list are this good I am in for a treat.