Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap
Wonder Boy was an amazing franchise that has long been lost, forgotten and discarded like so many other great series in history (RIP Alex Kidd). Thankfully Lizardcube have revived the series, bringing it to a new audience that potentially never played the originals on the Sega Master System.
Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap is a remake of the third game in the series, and starts you off at the final moments of the second game. You must storm Meka Dragon’s castle, sword in hand, and defeat the evil beast. Upon defeating the dragon however, you are turned into a humanoid lizard creature (Inventively named Lizard-man). After you escape the crumbling castle, you must set off on an adventure to break the curse upon you and reclaim your human form.
This is a classic Metroidvania style game, where parts of the world are inaccessible based on you requiring a weapon or ability to get to the next area. Weapons and armour are acquired by purchasing them from stores scattered throughout the world, and new abilities are unlocked by defeating bosses.
The interesting thing this game does with its abilities is that you only have one available at a time for the bulk of the game, rather than games like Metroid where you can switch between all your abilities on the fly (unless you find the hidden Tasmanian Sword). This is achieved by tying abilities to different animal forms, which you are cursed with after defeating each boss. The abilities are varied and interesting, from Mouse-man being able to walk on walls and ceilings, to Bird-man being able to fly. There are special rooms that allow you to switch between the different forms, but they are fairly rare.
The controls are fairly simple, allowing you to jump, swing your sword and use an item. Items can be useful weapons, but I found myself rarely using them, besides the arrows which allow you to shoot the annoying clouds that spit fireballs (grr I hate them so much!).
This remake looks absolutely stunning, with a hand drawn art style that is truly breathtaking. The animations are beautiful, and the game as a whole is lovely to look at. The music and sound has been reworked too, and it all sounds exceptional. That said, if you are curious how the original game looked or sounded, you can always switch to the old style with the click of a button. You can even mix and match, having the new art style with the original sound or vice versa. If you mash the visual change button enough you can even have half the game with the new art and the other as the original.
There are great little nods to fans of the original. One of my favourites was that the game gives you password codes. Curious, I set up my Master System and booted up my original copy of Wonder Boy III, punched in the code, and… it worked!!! It’s such a novel addition, but it shows how much love the developers have for the game.
Finishing the main story will only take you around 4 hours. That said, a new dungeon opens up after you have completed the game, and it is brutally hard. This dungeon requires you to solve puzzles, make extremely difficult jumps, switch between the different animal forms to suit the situations at hand, and battle tough enemies. There are also hidden doors around the world for all of the animal forms, each one containing a difficult dungeon based around that animals abilities.
This game is still enjoyable even today. It has aged fairly well for the most part, but some of the mechanics are definitely dated. Overall though this game is worth it for the price. I highly recommend it to fans of 2d platformers and Metroidvania style games.
Verdict – A classic reborn
with a new coat of paint