Retronauts Episode 72: Wonder Boy Vs. Adventure Island


Ray Barnholt joins Jeremy and Bob in an attempt to make sense of the bizarre lineage of SEGA’s Wonder Boy, Hudson’s Adventure Island, and the pronunciation of “Westone.” It’s 100 minutes of confusion!

Libsyn (1:40:14 | MP3 Download | SoundCloud)

wonder boy lineage


Filed under Retronauts

5 Responses to Retronauts Episode 72: Wonder Boy Vs. Adventure Island

  1. Nathan Daniels

    First off, 32,768 points to Jeremy for making a reference to Kidd Video while talking about the Adventure Island anime! I swear he’s the only other person I’ve ever heard mention that show(which had character designs that remind me of those in the power suit levels in Keith Courage). Incidentally, I always thought Wonder Boy was an island native, not a caveman.

    To clarify your points on the origin of the two series, Westone developed and owned the rights to the Wonder Boy game, but Sega owned the characters. Adventure Island was Westone’s way to make extra money on the game without violating Sega’s copyrights. I’m sure you guys probably knew this, but I just wanted to throw it out there for the listeners since it wasn’t stated explicitly on the show.

    Wonder Boy in Monster Land was a really fun game. I played it in the arcade and, like Jeremy, I loved the art style. I bought it when it came out for the Master System and beat it. It’s definitely worth playing through, just be sure to have the bell on the last stage because finding your way through the maze can be maddening without it!

    Ray is right that the Sega kids knew all about Wonder Boy and its iterations. I didn’t even know about Adventure Island until my childhood friend rented Super Adventure Island. While I immediately loved the music(I had been familiar with Yuzo Koshiro’s work through Revenge of Shinobi, Streets of Rage and Actraiser), I snidely mocked the gameplay for being a ripoff of a mid-80’s Sega game….because that’s what snide Sega kids did back then, wasn’t it?

    Regarding the beginning of Wonder Boy: the Dragon’s Trap, that climactic first stage is actually a replay of the last stage from Wonder Boy in Monster Land. It feels really natural to play those games back to back for that reason. I also just read(and this is from Wikipedia, so take it with a grain of salt), that Wonder Boy 3: The Dragon’s Trap is officially considered the 4th game in the series by Japanese reckoning, In Japan, it’s only called Monster World II, but it’s still considered the 4th game in the WB series. The SMS release of The Dragon’s Trap is called Wonder Boy III because it was the third US release of Wonder Boy for the SMS. Doesn’t that just make everything all better?

    Ray, I just learned that the plural of octopus is octopuses, not octopi. True fact.

    Lastly, I have a question I was hoping to have answered in the show: which games in these series were actually developed by Westone? Did they do ALL of them, including all the Adventure Island titles?

    • Sean C

      I came to leave a comment, but ya your comment pretty much is what I’m was going to say. I’d say if you went to arcades, Wonderboy wasn’t that uncommon, it may have predated the SMS console. I have even seen Wonderbpy in Monsterland in the arcade, though it is a very hard arcade game. And the presentation has that big status window you guys talked about.

      I too remember when my friend got Adventure island and I was like, whoa, this is a huge Wonderboy ripoff. Of course not knowing the history behind it.

      But yes if your had a SMS you were pretty familiar with the early games as they were some of the most memorable on the system.

      I guess an intereting anecdote is watching Wonderboyn on the display at a Macy’s as a kid side by side with the NES made me decide to ask for a SMS for Christmas. It was just so colorful and better looking than the the early black box games on Nintendo it was up against. I would say I regret that decision, but I really don’t because all my friends had the NES so I still got to experience that as well. We would often trade systems.

      Anyway great episode, you guys really covered the genealogy pretty thoroughly. And thanks to Ray, correctly.

      Also as far as the comment below, hey when I was a kid I had time to spend playing Wonder Boy in Monster land for MONTHS to finally beat it. You would get so far , die. Strategize your next play through, Discover hidden gold, make different equipment decisions to afford better stuff. And get to the final castle to die and do it all over again till you got it right. Well ain’t nobody got time for that today. No way I could do that today. Especially with all the research and games these guys have to play. Cut em some slack.

  2. Drew

    Man. Using save states, watching a play through. I don’t know where to start being angry. Guess I’ll start here.

  3. Jeremiah Jones

    I love the show. Thank you for taking the time to do this. Though I’m surprised at the lack of love for Super Adventure Island II. I adored that game. To each their own. Thanks again!