Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom E3 Impression
It’s no wonder that, when I approached the Monster Boy game booth at E3, I felt oddly like I’d already seen this game before. The game is a spiritual successor to Westone Bit and Sega’s Wonder Boy franchise, which itself has seen several remakes over the last couple of years. Now, FDG Entertainment and Game Atelier have teamed up to develop Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom, an action platformer with some light Metroidvania gameplay elements.
In the game, players take control of the titular blue-haired Monster Boy. As the game opens, Monster Boy discovers that his uncle, an impish prankster, has run amok casting transformation spells on all manner of creatures in the vibrant, sea-side village where they live in Monster World Kingdom. Visually, everything I was able to see in the demo was extremely impressive, beautifully hand-drawn environments and colorful sprites popping off the screen everywhere one looks. But no matter how cute and unassuming it looks, Monster Boy knows he has to chase down his uncle and put a stop to this madness before something goes truly wrong.
The gameplay in Monster Boy is very traditional, pick-up-and-play side-scrolling platforming. Monster Boy can perform jumping and crouching attacks with his sword, and there’s further gear available as the game continues for some light RPG elements. As I made my way from left to right, taking on several small island creatures who’d been touched by the trickster’s magic and opening a chest or two along the way, I eventually came to a shop whose clerk sole me a pair of heavy, iron-plated boots. These boots allowed me to dive underwater where before I could only swim across it, introducing a bit of verticality into the stage. Under the waves, I found I could backtrack a bit, eventually unequpping the heavy boots to float back up to the surface for a previously-unreachable chest containing a shield.
Now, with shield in hand, it was a cinch to deflect a fireball back at a fire-breathing flower that was blocking the way forward, and proceed further into the level. After some more running, jumping, and swimming, I made my way to a small tower, ready to corner my uncle who had just disappeared within. The showdown didn’t go as well as expected, with a magic spell unintentionally hitting a cute little octopus who happened to be hopping by, and propelling it out of the window. Before you know it, the tower walls were flying around my ears, shattered by the tentacles of the now-gargantuan mutated octopus boss. The following battle was a matter of memorizing a simple tentacle smash pattern, then avoiding projectile attacks while whacking away at whatever suction pad was closest to me. After two tries, octopus went down, and Monster Boy found himself changed to a new form, ready to begin the next level in the form of a bipedal pig.
As the game continues on, Monster Boy will gain access to four more such transformations, each a different animal or mythical creature. Pig, frog, snake, lion, and dragon make up Monster Boy’s alternate forms, each with its own characteristics and abilities. This is where the game’s Metroidvania nature comes in, with players able to access different areas using the new abilities granted by the animal forms. The game seems almost ready, and is nearly upon us, awaiting a release this summer for PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and Xbox One. Head to the game’s official page for a developer blog and further details.