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Wonder Boy III: Monster's Lair was never released in North American territories, instead Wonder Boy III: Dragon's Trap was released. Monster's Lair was released in all other world regions. It was primarily developed for the Sega Genesis, but was eventually ported to the TurboGrafx CD and Arcades. North America was given a release for the Nintendo Wii's Virtual Console in 2009 as an import title.
Monster's Lair plays like a platformer and shooter. The game stays similar to previous Wonder Boys because you run from left to right losing health as time passes. As you lose health you collect fruit in order to gain time and progress through the game. Gameplay diverges from previous Wonder Boys in shooting sequences. Certain levels will have your character riding a top dragons and other monsters, and your goal is to shoot all enemies on screen. Health in the shooting levels is only lost when you are hit, but you still collect fruit for health. The shooting levels can best be compared to side scrolling arcade shooters. All boss encounters are on shooting levels, and the shooting sequences are featured often in the game.