Asha returns to Monster World in a strange remake

The Mega Drive equivalent of Gus Van Sant's "Psycho"

When you think about it, the existence of a Monster World IV remake is a bit strange. It’s a game that’s generally agreed to be excellent and leans into the more niche, hobbyist side of retrogaming. A straight re-release would sell to its fans, no question – in fact, the Sega Vintage Collection offered this on PS3/360, along with a couple of other Wonder Boy titles. But a remake? Especially one with 2.5D graphics? It’s an odd move and no mistake. If it’s done badly, you alienate people who love the source material. If it’s done well, it’s still so niche of a game that there’s little reason to buy in if you’re not already a fan.

Still, that doesn’t mean it’s bad. I mean, how could it be? Monster World IV wasn't bad, and... this is Monster World IV. Again. With cel-shaded graphics. And basically no differences other than that. Which is really weird! You can save the game anywhere now, and that's nice, but everything else is precisely as it was back in 1994, and that's kind of a hard sell. I'll level with you directly, Nauties; I didn't particularly care for Monster World IV in the first place. I know it's very acclaimed, but in my experience it was a rather fiddly and ultimately uninteresting game. But that's me, that's my tastes - I prefer my action platformers to be a little less fiddly, and messing around with the creature known as Pepelogoo - as cute as he is - feels a bit nob to me. You've got this evolving creature following you about, and that's a cool idea, but... okay, I know I'm usually the first one to advocate in favour of fiddly old mechanics and the investment they require, but bearing in mind that this is a remake, I do find it strange that this wasn't simplified to make things breezier and more palatable.

But, again, who's playing this besides existing fans of Monster World? Goodness knows. The boxed version of the game comes with the original Mega Drive version of the game, too, which is a nice inclusion but also a bit of an own goal considering the aforementioned. I would argue, honestly, that most people buying this remake are buying it just to get the original game on their system. Adding it to the physical package only as a bonus is... while welcome, a little bit annoying when it could just have been packed in. I don't think people are buying physical games in 2021 in order to get bonus content besides with bespoke stuff like Limited Run, but even with their stuff the main draw is having a preserved physical version, isn't it?

Gawwwd, I don't want to be a downer. This isn't a bad remake. It plays fine. The visuals look quite cheap but they're not without their charm. I just wonder why you would choose this over the original game, which is (still?) available on PS3 and 360, and as part of the Mega Drive Mini, and probably elsewhere on some other format that I've forgotten. If you want to own a legitimate copy of Monster World IV on a modern system, this isn't a bad option. It's made with love, but so are children and they seem equally pointless to me.