I’ve been playing lots of great indie games on the Switch since it came out. But nothing has quite impressed me in the way Wonderboy has. Perhaps it’s because I’m a sucker for old school classics, but Wonderboy has, despite being little more than a graphical overhaul for a Sega Master System title of all things, has really won me over due it’s simplistic charm, tight gameplay, and interesting aspects.
It’s amazing to me how such a simple, short game could have so many pleasant secrets, great levels, and overall be such a treat to play. The game expertly balances accessibility (Being easily able to understand where to go and what to do) with rewarding gameplay. Aside from a brief exposition dump at the beginning of the game and at the end, you are completely free to do whatever you like for the entire game.
There is not much to do, mind you, besides go on an adventure. But the lack of guidance on how to proceed was strangely refreshing to me. Initially, I assumed I was cursed and that returning to my human form would be the priority. As it turns out, that is not the case. Instead you go from one transformation to another, each with their own unique abilities.
Unlike Shantae, you can not switch between the characters at will. And at first, I thought you couldn’t switch at all. What seems like it would be an odd limitation seems like a brilliant move. Unlike Shantae, where it’s super easy to just fly over obstacles and then transform again to solve a puzzle, Wonderboy has a very specific path it wants you to follow. The fun in the game is figuring out that path, and what equipment and secrets you need to have to make it easier on yourself to succeed.
The game never stops feeling rewarding, up until the very end. The final area is quite long, and with no checkpoints. But the journey itself was so rewarding and so addicting I never once felt frustrated or bored as I trained myself to fight the final boss. This game, in spite of it’s age, is very likely a new favorite of mine.