There are video games that I’ve spent many years playing (sometimes on-and-off) before finally beating them for the first time. I spent three years playing Dune II before I finally beat it as every house. It took twice that to reach the end of Ultima Underworld II. But today, I can add a new contender1 to that list.
Today, over thirty-five years after I first played it, I finally completed Wonder Boy.
My first experience of the game, in the 1980s, was on a coin-op machine where I’d discovered I could get away with trading the 20p piece I’d been given by my parents to use as a deposit on a locker that week for two games on the machine. I wasn’t very good at it, but something about the cutesy graphics and catchy chip-tune music grabbed my attention and it became my favourite arcade game.
I played it once or twice more when I found it in arcades, as an older child. I played various console ports of it and found them disappointing. I tried it a couple of times in MAME. But I didn’t really put any effort into it until a hotel we stayed at during a family holiday to Paris in October had a bank of free-to-play arcade machines rigged with Pandora’s Box clones so they could be used to play a few thousand different arcade classics. Including Wonder Boy.
Off the back of all the fun the kids had, it’s perhaps no surprise that I arranged for a similar machine to be delivered to us as a gift “to the family”2 this Christmas.
And so my interest in the game was awakened and I threw easily a hundred pounds worth of free-play games of Wonder Boy3 over the last few days. Until…
…today, I finally defeated the seventh ogre4, saved the kingdom, etc. It was a hell of a battle. I can’t count how many times I pressed the “insert coin” button on that final section, how many little axes I’d throw into the beast’s head while dodging his fireballs, etc.