Amstrad Computer User


Publisher: Activision
Machine: Amstrad CPC464

Published in Amstrad Computer User #35


Wonderboy is Sega's answer to Jack The Nipper. A wee toddler, so cute he should be on That's Life, dashes through the jungle to rescue his girlfriend Tina from the evil King.

This King fellow lives across seven territories, bizarre and treacherous. These seven are further subdivided into four lands, each consisting of four areas. Thats, er, um, 112 areas. At the end of each territory waits an Ogre. They all have to be vanquished in a suitably heroic way. Doesn't ogre well, does it?

As progress is made left to right, the wunderkid has to pick up fruit and burgers growing from the trees and break open magic eggs containing skateboards, axes and fairies. It's funny, but now I come to explain this to somebody else, it does seem a bit odd. In the game it all makes sense. Ah well.

Wonder Boy

Apart from the ogres, there are snakes, toads (toads, like frogs, are amphibians. Some editors think they're reptiles. What toads think of editors has never been accurately explored...), fi reballs, rolling stones and poisonous snails. And wasps. This collection of jungle denizens are out to get the lad. They would be.

Not only does the enfant terrible have to leap, stab or skateboard over all these challenges, but he also leaps athletically across yawning chasms, dozing detritus and sneezing valleys. There's also the old vitality meter (who's been at their thesaurus then?) along the top of the screen which runs out as he runs along.

These few simple bits of video gamery are put together with a hidden cunning which only becomes apparent after a few minutes. The stealth and intelligent malevolence behind some of the pitfalls is quite at odds with the cuteness of the graphics. For example, a toad (classification amphibian, as previously noted) is placed at a jump point. It can be got rid of with a few suitably aimed stone hatchets, but all weapons get lost if you lose a life, so a previously trivial problem can become difficult in a major way if you don't get it right first time.

Wonder Boy

Likewise, there are the traditional rising lifts to help the young 'un cross a particularly nasty bit of gappery. There are also some bonus fruit hanging hummingbird-like over the hole. If one waits for the lift the bonus groceries vanish, but if one makes the leap there's a good chance that those bananas will be one's last repast.

And as the vitality meter trickles out, it's important to grab every hunk of edible substance that's there. There are some hilarious touches; the way the kid goes up in flames when he touches a bonfire is as funny as it's possible to be. Child immolation? No worse than zap-the-green-fiend, 'spose. Likewise the frying of monsters, and the guardian angel hovering above, are highly chuckle causative.

So in some was it's a standard jog along and save the girl game, and in others it makes good use of the plethora of standard gadgets that make up such software. Unexpected.


Wonder Boy

Suppress the rising gorge, oh ye of sensitive nature. This is a game that's easy to get into, well designed and implemented, and impossible to stop playing. It would have been very easy to produce a game using exactly the same storyboard.

graphics and action that would have been boring as spreadsheets. Instead, my faith in the arcane nature of arcade game design is restored.

Ignore the music; that's worse than a grade 1 piano exercise. Ignore the wonderfully awful loading screen. This is a goodie.


Wonder Boy

This is not an arcade conversion, it's a conversion from the Crummodore 64 version. That was an arcade conversion. It loses in the translation. The same naff colours as the C64, the same garish sprites. Converting a game is not a task to be sneezed at, but it could have been done so much better.


This Tarzan trapise features some ambitious attempts at advanced programming.

Hardware scrolling a large area and software scrolling the score to keep it in place, large sprites and plenty of animation. Only the animation works. The scroll shudders and the sprites are erratic. The sprites are poorly defined.

The arcade game benefited from it's cuteness. Computer games are not just a tangible collection of bytes, they need to collect the atmosphere of the scenario, in this case a jungle, and dispense it through the micro.

Wonderboy has none of the magic of the arcade. It is a dull game programmed adequately.