Otaku USA Magazine
24 Hours in Monster World

[Excerpted from the October 2007 issue of Otaku USA magazine]

The mission is clear: Six games, 16 different versions, 24 hours. Provisions are limited and specific-4x energy drink, 1x pair underwear (optional), 3x can of baked beans, 2x tall boy of King Cobra malt liquor-but will have to sustain the user both mentally and physically for the duration; a grueling period of experiencing no stimulation outside of Sega’s Monster World Complete Collection for PlayStation 2!

No holds barred, no mercy; this is the ultimate reverse sensory deprivation tank in action.

Wonder Boy (1986)
00:00-Thankfully, things kick into gear with some familiar territory. The first game pops up and, suddenly, primal, destructive urges of youth are rekindled. Many folks may recall Wonder Boy more “fondly” as Hudson’s Adventure Island, a sadistic platformer that hates its players.

00:15-The fact that this particular version is running the original arcade makes it a lot less vein-popping than playing Hudson’s game on the NES, as you can jam the triangle button to feed “quarters” into it. Still-bees, frogs, bats, etc.-it’s no wonder every child potty-trained on this game is a pasty recluse that fears nature.

00:40-Wonder Boy is the same five levels recycled over and over again with radically increasing difficulty until your brain pops!

1:45-In-game item that would be most useful in the real world: mushroom that turns fruit into hamburgers and chocolate.

4:14-The game just reset completelyso close to the end. The choice now is to either embrace death or move on to …

Wonder Boy in Monster Land (1987) 
4:30-The arcade port of this follow-up has a completely different feel to it. There are towns, upgrades, and weird-looking people to buy stuff from. Also, Wonder Boy now looks like a giant baby with crap in his diaper and a severe “gangsta lean.�VbCrLf

5:22-If the first game was Godzilla: Final Wars, then this one is Tokyo S.O.S. It’s slooooow. Might have to pop a can of “the Cobra” while this mushroom flicks boogers at my shield.

6:40-This special brand of madness can’t go on much longer; the game is cruel as hell. Is it bad form to quit at this point? Does anyone really care? There’s only so much time in the world, time that could be better spent on …

Wonder Boy III: Monster Lair (1988)
6:45-An empty can of baked beans is tossed haphazardly to the wayside, the controller soon covered in smudge. Only a brave man would go on with so many hours left to play, but maybe things will change for the better this time around.

7:00-Hot damn, and how! This one is way different once again; a platformer/shooter hybrid that breathes momentary life back into the doubloon-coveting corpse decorating the desk chair (it’s me).

7:50-One of the bosses is a Franken-Dracula wearing a muscle shirt.

8:20-Monster Lair doesn’t end. Like every other home version of an old arcade game, you have to realize that Earth Men were not meant to reach this point.

9:00-Round 13: Mirroring the mind-set of the player, the game has gone completely nutty bar. Flying knights shooting boxing gloves are led by a larger version that looks mysteriously like an 80s-era Cylon from Battlestar Galactica.

 9:09-After shooting the Cylon’s heart for what seems like ages, everything is suddenly cybernetic. The walls teem with circuits and computerized phantasms burst from clouds with murderous intent. The power of our future’s technology has allowed a rare glimpse into the destiny of mankind, where every step you take is fatal and making it through the end of the day seems borderline impossible.

9:20-And then it appears-a UFO. Gone is the traditional giant agape monster mouth into which our wondrous boy would walk to trigger the shooter level and inevitable boss fight. Instead … outer space. After a torrent of flying saucers, the boss appears-a dragon: man’s mortal enemy! Then, bam! GAME OVER! No continues!

9:30-Screw starting this over. I’m going to go freebase small bits of broken glass and then come back to dig into …

Monster World II: The Dragon’s Trap (1989)
10:00-From the opening: “Before you is the Monster World. Overcoming various hardships, you have at last entered into The Monster’s Castle. Your target is the dreaded Dragon’s Room. But unbeknownst to you is the fact that the Dragon has the power to invoke curses on his enemies. I’m scared!

10:05-Sexy Master System graphics ahoy. You start off in this tiny hall fighting hopping snakes. The music kicks hard as you wind through the brief maze of passages, eventually ending up in some long, wired hall.

10:10-At the end of the hall is a doorway that leads to … a robotic dragon! After deftly dodging his attacks and stabbing him in the face, he casts a curse on me, just as the opening foretold! Now I’m a dragon myself and the castle is set to explode.

14:30-I know this sounds wild, but I’ve been playing this for over four hours and have barely gotten anything accomplished. I think it’s time to squander this time-sink and shoot over to …

Wonder Boy V: Monster World III (1991)
14:49-Confusing game titles galore. The pair of underwear, my only truly personal provision, lies in the corner; now a heap of bean cans and bodily fluids. Monster World III is another one that hits up the “young, stumpy knight on a quest” theme. The fact that this game already looks a lot like the others has me clawing for autopilot.

15:00-“This is Purapril Castle! Entry is prohibited! Go away!” The young, adventurous boy walks to the gate anyway. “I just told you that no one may enter the castle! Didn’t you hear me?” I hate these guys.

15:20-Ugh, I’m going to need to go out and buy more snacks.

15:35-An aimless attempt to actually leave the house found my brain rattling with chip music, my eyes blind as a radiated mole to the natural light. I quickly stumble inside to the warming salve of the television’s glow. The point of no return brings us back to the real action; fresh stick of beef jerky and a fresh quote from one of the fair ladies of the town our hero is in: “I’m Sonia. Our village is under the attack!”

16:45-I think the folks at Nintendo must have played this one a bit. In one of the first dungeons, you find an ocarina. To break seals on doors you need to stand on a platform and play the right melody by hitting a certain combination of up, jump, and attack. Sound familiar, Zelda? Uh huh.
17:42-Just going to rest my eyes for a bit.

18:35-Crap! Hopefully there’s enough time for …

Monster World IV (1994)

I feel like one of those crazy Korean guys that dies playing World of Warcraft. Only one last game stands between bold perseverance and a cold Tombstone (Pizza) with an insulting epitaph (read: gross toppings).

19:00-Either the delirium has kicked in full force or this game is completely incredible. The music sounds like some far-off fanfare, ushering in colorful graphics and fast-paced free-form adventure in the vein of Metroid or a Koji Igarashi-developed Castlevania game.

21:00-As the bleary-eyed stupor of bad malt liquor fully wears off, it’s much easier to see that this game is, in fact, amazing. As if everything has come full circle, clarity returns to our intrepid adventurer!

24:00-Although the mark has been hit and the provided sustenance has been drained, there’s no way to stop now. Perhaps it can continue eternally, never stopping for anything, never slowing down, never … never …

illustration by Daniel Krall