The Last Fortune is a Wonder Boy wannabe, which isn’t a bad thing. I really enjoyed Wonder Boy in Monster World on the Genesis despite its flaws. The problem is that developer Vile takes Wonder Boy’s biggest flaw — awkward combat — and amplifies it while ignoring Wonder Boy’s greatest strength: a sense of discovery and adventure.
Visually, The Last Fortune reminds me more of a Sega Master System Wonder Boy (such as Wonder Boy III: Dragon’s Trap) than the superior Wonder Boy in Monster World. The main difference is that The Last Fortune’s graphics have a graver personality. In contrast, the Wonder Boy games have visual charm to spare. The Last Fortune simply looks OK. The enemy design is decent, and I like the death effects, but the overall look is bland and washed out compared to the Wonder Boy games.
The Last Fortune excels in the sound department. The music complements the action and setting, and the sound effects are crisper and more distinct than the average Wonder Boy game. But there is a nagging problem: at times static interrupts the music. And before someone says I might have a problem on my end, this static doesn’t occur in any other game I have, with the exception of the very buggy The Fall of Gods.
Like the Wonder Boy games, The Last Fortune demands great precision in combat. You must have the right amount of distance between you and the enemies, or your primary attack is not going to hit them. If you’ve never played Wonder Boy, it’ll take more time getting used to this. And you damn well better like this mechanic because The Last Fortune emphasizes the hell out of it.
Unlike the adventurous Wonder Boy III or Wonder Boy in Monster World, The Last Fortune doesn’t include a focus on exploration. Don’t look for hidden doors, treasure or people. Every stage is a fairly linear exercise. You avoid or kill everything that gets in your way, do some standard platforming and hit switches here and there. You have lives, checkpoints and continues (the latter of which you have to buy — talk about stingy). You have a few special attacks, but you can only use one at a time, and to use one you have to be fortunate enough to pick up a random icon dropped by a dead enemy. You have to buy some of the special attacks, but who knows whether you’ll ever get to use one of them when you’d like to? But hey, check out that dinosaur of a game called Wonder Boy in Monster World, which allowed you to switch between several spells and equip several different types of weapons and armor with an inventory menu.
The sad thing is that I haven’t even mentioned The Last Fortune’s most annoying feature: a screen that can’t keep up with you! Change directions and it takes the screen time to readjust so that you can see ahead of yourself. Double jump and watched the screen struggle to handle the movement. Another screen-related issue is that sometimes you have to jump down to a lower level, but you have no way of moving the screen down for a peek. Don’t be surprised if you lose what little life you have left jumping to a lower platform because you couldn’t see an enemy waiting at your landing spot. Screen issues are the stupid shit I would expect to see from a worthless old game reviewed by the Angry Video Game Nerd, not a game released in 2013, indie or not.
Finally, the game breaks up its monotonous gameplay with seen-it-before dialogue between stages. If you want to read a lot of smartass remarks, pick the girl character. She’s a real tough customer. Y’know, what you would never expect from a girl, snort snort!
Like I said, this game lifts the awkward combat mechanics of Wonder Boy but doesn’t give a damn about offering any sense of discovery or adventure. This is the kind of game that you grind through because you don’t want to believe you’re a pussy. Once you beat it, there’s no point in coming back, unless you want to try a higher difficulty. The Last Fortune offers two difficulty settings (easy and normal), but both settings offer annoying gameplay.
If I were a game developer and wanted to make something inspired by a solid retro title, I would try to fix any flaws of that game, emphasize the strengths of that game and perhaps add an innovative feature. The Last Fortune wants you to revel in the bad parts of Wonder Boy. Utter nonsense.