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Bring Back….. Wonder Boy

Back in the late 80′s and early 90’s, game companies were desperately trying to find a mascot that would keep us glued to the arcade machines and home consoles, no stone was left unturned to bring the cute and weird to gamers around the globe. Psycho foxes, crude dudes and battling toads all had a go but who would have thought from such a simple beginning a prehistoric boy would flourish into one of the best games of that generation, Wonder Boy in Monsterland; but that tale is for another day, as today I want SEGA to bring back the original, Wonder Boy.

With pick up and play devices like the iPhone, the original Wonder Boy is dying for an update or at least a re-release. Wonderboy was a side scrolling platform game that was originally an arcade game but found its home on the SEGA Master System and involved a young cave-boy called Tom-Tom running and jumping across a variety of environments, with oceans crossed by jumping on clouds and islands, caves populated with falling platforms and forests with plenty of boulders to jump over.

The story is just like any other from that era with an evil creature, Drancon kidnapping your girlfriend, leaving you to traverse many dangerous lands and save the day. Unlike most platform games now, jumping on the heads of enemies was not an option; instead Tom-Tom relied on deft timing to jump the fires, octopi and snails that occupied these harsh lands, each one having their own set attack pattern to learn. Tom-Tom is not without weaponry though as along the way he comes across two different eggs, each holding various power-ups, with a white one that he can break open to give him a stone axe that is thrown in a short arc allowing him to hit baddies on the ceiling and on the floor. Inexplicably, certain eggs also grant Wonder Boy with access to a skateboard that allows him to zip at some pace though the levels but this is also a nightmare to navigate across some of the trickier platform areas. To add another element of urgency to the game, Tom-Tom has a constantly depleting health bar, forcing you ever forward and taking extra risks collecting fruit to boost vitality, just make sure to avoid the red eggs as these cause his vitality to deplete even faster.

After conquering each set of stages Tom-Tom comes face to face with Drancon, where he will try his best to stop Tom-Tom in a series of quite easy to follow attack patterns, where upon Drancon’s defeat, his head will change, showing yet another version and leaving Tom-Tom to take on even more platform levels to again battle the boss and ultimately stop the true version of Drancon.

In a rare cross platform release, an almost carbon copy of Wonder Boy was released on other consoles under the title Adventure Island, where Hudson Soft managed to obtain the rights to the title, allowing even Nintendo owners to get in on the action, with these games being just as good but with slightly different characters.

So SEGA, if you listening please Bring Back Wonder Boy or even better, Sonic has had numerous compilations so why not a full set of the Wonder Boy games on one disc?

Bring Back……Kameo

By Joe Anderson

– 13 August, 2011(Edit Post)Posted in: Bring Back, Features, Microsoft, Rare, Xbox 360

One of the very first games I played on my launch Xbox 360 was Kameo: Elements of Power, a beautiful title from Rare which in my opinion showed the studio at its best. Sadly, and I must again state that this is my own personal opinion, I feel that since then the studio has went completely downhill as far as exciting, original games are concerned.

Sure some will argue that titles such as Kinect Sports are in fact amongst the most popular Kinect titles released and I agree that they have been very successful, however the latter doesn’t come close to the enjoyment I got when I first put the disc for Kameo into my Xbox 360.

Now I have to admit I never owned the original Xbox nor had I played many other Rare games due to the fact that I grew up on the Sonic side on the console divide (i.e Master System, MegaDrive, PlayStation, PS2 etc..), therefore playing an Xbox and a Rare game was a new experience to me. This however all changed as soon as I put the disc in and started to get hooked into the wonderful, sprawling adventure that was Kameo. I remember one point specifically when I thought “Wow, the next generation of gaming has arrived.” This moment came when I was using Kameo to swim underwater, the graphics were unlike anything I had ever seen before, with its high def colours (for the time) and smooth character movement, and when this combined with the orchestral sounds in the background, this moment was just stunning. Its honestly something I will never forget.

Kameo is still available now and it looks fantastic for its age, however this article is more calling for a sequel, rather than a remake as such.

For those who have not played Kameo before, the premise is as follows. You take control of Kameo, a young elf who has gained the ability to change into warriors based on each of the elements. Your objective during the game is to basically save your family after your sister grows jealous and kidnaps them. The problem is that your sister also released a troll army upon the world, causing you to have to use your abilities for the forces of good and to save your land from destruction.

The adventure takes you through all manner of landscapes, most of which are based on the elemental sprites which you have to rescue and absorb in order to use their powers. There are ten different powers to absorb during the game, and as you progress and rescue them you earn the ability to become them. Once you have the power this turns you into a sort of shape shifter, therefore depending on the situation you find yourself in (especially the boss battles) you will use various tactics and shift between each of the elements in order to win the day.

Thanks to its wonderful boss battles and its varied gameplay Kameo was a classic game, one of Rare’s best really. It’s just a shame that the studio now seems to be stuck in a Kinect/Avatar related rut and while Microsoft is no doubt counting its cash and being thankful that it bought out Rare all those years ago, I for one can’t help think that we, as gamers, have lost the talents of a legendary studio to the industries new found fascination of motion controlled gaming.

Perhaps one of my main problems is that there are just not enough games like Kameo, especially on Xbox 360 which is a console mainly renowned for its shooters. I honestly can’t name any titles on Microsoft’s Box which are as unique as Kameo was in its time. Instead Microsoft is intent on concentrating its first party studios on Kinect, although if that’s where the money is then I guess you can’t blame them.

It’s a real shame when you think about the games Rare have developed in the past, with classics such as GoldenEye 007, Perfect Dark and a large handful of Nintendo based franchises under its experienced belt. Would it really hurt Microsoft to let the studio flex its talented muscles once more in order to develop Kameo 2 and make this gamer, and no doubt many others, happy? I don’t see this happening ever, but well, you never know do you?

What game would you like to see make a return or have a sequel? Let us know by writing to editorial@shopto.net.

Edited On 25 May, 2012

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