If you've already downloaded Wonder Boy in Monster World to your Wii, you may want to pass on The Dynastic Hero, since it's basically the same game. To summarize a rather long story, Sega published Wonder Boy in Monster World for the Sega Genesis in 1991, and Hudson reworked the game into The Dynastic Hero for its TurboGrafx CD unit three years later. The story, music, and a few visual elements were changed, but the underlying world structure and gameplay were left alone. Now, having said all that, if you haven't already played Wonder Boy in Monster World, you should definitely check out The Dynastic Hero if you're into 2D action adventure games that feature cleverly designed levels and an abundance of cutesy charm.
In the game, which is the follow-up to Dragon's Curse (also available in the Virtual Console shop), you assume the role of a warrior named Dyna and visit different lands to do battle with numerous monsters large and small. Much of what you do entails jumping across platforms and hacking away at enemies with a sword like you would in any other side-scrolling action romp, but the game also has some role-playing nuances, such as the ability to travel between areas at will and to collect weapons and items that make you stronger.
Tarron is a kingdom consisting of six interconnected lands, each containing a village, multiple countrysides infested with monsters, and a dungeon ruled by a menacing boss creature. Dyna's health and abilities increase as you go through the game. You'll collect hearts to increase his health meter, buy swords and armor to increase his attack and defense ratings, and occasionally acquire new magic spells that have various effects. Some shops sell shields that will let you block projectiles, or boots that can boost your speed or protect you from hazardous terrain. You can also buy potions to recover the health you lose in battle.
Even though the lands are all interconnected, certain areas are blocked until you collect a specific key item. In Dragon's Curse, you could transform into different animals to access new areas. You don't get to transform into cool beasts in this game, but the various armors, items, and people you come across have similar uses. For example, you won't turn into a fish when you need to swim underwater. Instead, you'll acquire a trident that will give you that ability. Compared to Dragon's Curse, The Dynastic Hero lets you mess with a much wider variety of weapons, armor, and magic. The quest also takes twice as long to complete, though six hours does seem a little short compared to other role-playing games.
There aren't any screen-shaking explosions, so you probably won't be blown away by anything you see or hear. Nevertheless, the graphics and audio consistently convey a happy charm that makes up for the lack of "wow" moments. The characters all look like cute, deformed bugs and plants, and they have all sorts of goofy animations. The backgrounds are bright, colorful, and in some spots have been inked to resemble comic book pages. People who fell in love with the music in the Sega Genesis release of Wonder Boy in Monster World may be disappointed to discover that the music in The Dynastic Hero is totally different, but it still has its catchy moments. Overall, the CD quality soundtrack kicks out a healthy variety of instrumental melodies and crescendos.
Nothing about The Dynastic Hero is particularly groundbreaking, yet all of its parts come together to make for an adventure that's enjoyable from start to finish. The levels are clever, the boss fights are challenging, and the cute graphics and audio make going through the whole quest a thoroughly pleasant experience.