Into the monster's lair
The Wonder Boy series of scrolling platformers makes for a nice alternative to the likes of Mario if the old plumber is a bit too mainstream for you. The second game in the series, Monster Land, laid down the template for what the games would become best known for and while this third entry isn't as good as The Dragon's Trap, it's still a fine romp. This one's actually quite different from other games in the series with the player first controlling a green-haired character who must make his way through a series of side-scrolling platform levels, bashing away at the bad guys. Later on, things become more shooter-like as you enter a sort of skull and then start riding around on your pink friend, blasting away at the enemies. In the platforming sections, you can pick up a variety of weapons to help you out for a limited time but you run the risk of losing vitality if you do so. There's also the option to bring in a second player, Wonder Girl, which makes the game more interesting and is definitely the way to go if you've got someone else hanging around for some old-school action. Wonder Boy has earned his place in gaming's hall of fame and although he's a little further down the list than Sonic, his games are still jolly good fun and this installment is no exception. The gameplay is simple but entertaining while the addition of the shooter sections gives things some nice variety. The visuals are bright and colorful and the controls easy to pick up and responsive while the sound is cheery and adds much to the atmosphere. All in all, an enjoyable bit of retro fun.