When your evil uncle goes crazy, drinks a bunch of Royal Nectar, and turns everyone in the kingdom (including you) into an animal, you know it's time for an adventure. In Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom on the Nintendo Switch, you play as Jin, a young man turned into a Pig when his uncle afflicts the land with a terrible curse. In this 2D, side-scrolling, platforming action-adventure, Jin must collect magical orbs to turn into other animals, learn to use magic, defeat enemies, and stop his uncle from plaguing the kingdom once and for all.

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If you've played Wonder Boy, you'll love Monster Boy as well, but in either case, the game begins to throw challenges at you the minute you start playing. Here are some tips, tricks, and beginner hints for starting out in Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom:

Feeling Piggish

Though you'll start out the game as Jin, a human boy, not too far in you'll find yourself in a bit of a predicament - you'll be turned into a Pig! Don't worry, you're not going to play Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom entirely as a Pig. Rather, Jin will be able to transform into a menagerie of animals throughout the game, each with different abilities that will help Jin progress and unlock new areas.

As a Pig, Jin is slower and heavier than he was as a human, which can make jumping a bit more challenging. However, he also has the ability to smell out hidden areas and items. You'll want to use this immediately in the Sewer by pressing A near any faint cloud of white fog you see to reveal the way forward. This smelling ability is also good for finding hidden Truffles to gain you new powers!

You'll gain new animal powers as you collect more Orbs by defeating bosses. The first orb you collect turns you into a snake, allowing Jin to climb walls with moss on them and fit into small spaces, opening up new areas. A bit later, Jin will become a frog, which finally gives you the ability to use those weird coat hangar-like handles you'll have seen everywhere up until that point and activate distance switches. In total, Jin will gain the powers of six different animals and can swap between them at will throughout the game.

Fighting enemies

No matter what animal Jin plays as, he'll need to fight off enemies. Every animal has its own basic attack, whether it's punching (as a pig) or spitting venom (as a snake). These attacks do variable amounts of damage, so at times you may need to swap forms to do more damage or use your magic to fend off certain enemy types. If you're struggling with a certain enemy, try experimenting. Also, as both a boy and a pig (and some of the other creatures), Jin can perform what's effectively a ground pound attack that does damage to enemies hit by it and stuns most nearby enemies who aren't struck. If you're having trouble hitting an enemy, stunning it is a great way to pause it momentarily.

Be careful that you don't have an enemy right behind you when stepping onto a Jump box - it'll get sent flying with you!

Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom is also rife with boss battles, which are far more challenging (though generous with save points right outside the boss rooms). Your first few bosses aren't a cakewalk just because you're a beginner, either. When you're fighting the Kraken, you'll quickly find yourself crowded in by all the tentacles and small enemies. It can be beneficial in that fight to focus down the tentacles one by one to give yourself some breathing room, starting in the corner.

In the second boss fight in the sewer, there's a hint up top you can find by sniffing as a Pig that will allow you to do damage to the giant armored foe.

In both cases and in almost every boss fight in the game, don't ignore the little enemies! They drop additional health and magic that can help you power through the fight if you're struggling. Plus, they get overwhelming if left unchecked.

Magic, in all its forms

One of the first powers you'll get, even before you transform into an animal, is Magic. Magic comes in a number of forms that you'll acquire as you progress - Fire, Lightning, Wind, and more. Each can do damage or affect enemies in certain ways, but they're also necessary for progression.

You have a limited number of each magic to start, though you can collect more charges by fighting enemies. You'll later find upgrades to magic spells that will allow you to carry more at a time. Never fear - if there's a specific kind of magic you need to proceed, the game will never let you be stuck with no way to acquire more charges.

More tips and tricks

  • Early on, don't forget that you have Heavy Boots to go underwater! It can be easy to solve the first puzzle with them and then dance over the water, forgetting they exist. There are plenty of hidden goodies you can collect if you put them on.
  • Talk to everyone in the town for a number of hints on how to proceed, as well as various sidequests you'll be working on either throughout your journey or later on in the game. It's always beneficial to revisit these NPCs when you have a new power or animal form.
  • If you're stuck, keep an eye out for things like branches, torches, platforms with markings on them, or anything that stands out. Chances are, your magic or animal abilities can affect the environment somehow.
  • When you get the boomerang, remember it can go through walls! This is great for collecting unreachable loot or hitting switches.
  • Watch your air when you're underwater to make sure you don't run out. Bubbles will extend it. Jump pads will get you to the surface.
  • Break boxes and kill lots of enemies any time you get a chance. You'll get coins, which are necessary for buying upgrades, health, and more. Things get more expensive the further you get, so don't skip enemies thinking you'll get rich some other way.

Want to know more?

Stuck anywhere in Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom? Let me know in the comments and I'll try to help!

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