Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap
Anyone who owned a Sega Master System during the late eighties should be very familiar with Wonder Boy III: The Dragon’s Trap as it was arguably one of the greatest titles for this system. Time has done nothing to diminish the appeal of the game and it is still considered to be a cult hit by many. Now, thanks to Lizardcube and DotEmu, anyone who want to relive this great adventure or try it out for the first time won’t have to dig out a dusty Master System. Instead Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap can now be played in a completely updated and remastered version that ranks right up there with the best in terms of audio and visuals. Best of all, unlike other recent remakes, like Duck Tales, the original audio and visuals have not been forgotten either and players are free to switch to them on the fly. This gives players the best of both worlds as they can indulge in some nostalgia or experience this classic title in a brand new way.
For anyone unfamiliar with the original title, the story is rather simple. Our hero defeats the evil Meka-Dragon at the start of the game, but instead of treasure he is rewarded with a curse that transforms him into a half-human half-lizard. The only way to find a cure is to face off against a series of dragons, each cursing the hero with a different form, until he can finally regain his humanity. It’s not all bad news, though, as with each of the new forms our hero also gains new abilities that are essential for progressing through the game. This means that unlike most traditional platform games of its era, The Dragon’s Trap actually plays out more like a Metroidvania title where exploration is necessary.
Right off the bat it is clear to see that Lizardcube has treated this update of The Dragon’s Trap with the utmost respect. The first thing that leaps out at you are the beautiful visuals that have been hand-drawn and animated to perfection. It is possible to switch to the original 8-bit graphics with the flick of a button, which will demonstrate just how much work has gone into the new visuals. Don’t get us wrong, the original game looked detailed and colorful for its time, but when viewed in full HD there’s no hiding how much they have aged. Instead of pointless gimmicks, like 3D, the updated visuals stay true to the spirit of the original art, but increases the colors and detail a thousandfold. The castles, desert, pirate ship and temples of the original game have all received some stunning redesigns with added background as well as foreground details. The same goes for the imaginative cast of enemies who all look better than ever before.
The real stars of the show are still Lizard-Man, Mouse-Man, Piranha-Man, Lion-Man and Hawk-Man. These are the six characters that your Hu-man can turn into over the course of his adventure. Speaking of Hu-man, Lizardcube has added another great feature to the game that was absent from the original, the ability to start out as Hu-Girl. Yes, we know that the game is called Wonder Boy, but a lot of players will appreciate this new cosmetic addition. The cast of characters are not just great looking and wonderfully animated, but each one has something to bring to the table as well in terms of gameplay. While Lizard-Man is great at breathing fiery projectiles at enemies there are some areas that only Mouse-Man with his small size and ability to stick to certain surfaces can venture. Likewise, only Piranha-Man can swim underwater, while Hawk-Man can fly over barriers that would stop other characters dead in their tracks. Each of these characters become available after defeating the boss dragons that are lurking about and this varied lot, which includes a Mummy dragon, Samurai Dragon and even Zombie Dragon, require some skill to take down due to their size. Luckily, the game has three difficulty settings, so players who are not used to the challenge level associated with old-school games can still have fun.
Monster World, the setting for the game, has a town that serves as a sort of central hub for your adventures. Here you will also find shops where, using coins looted from defeated enemies, you can purchase new swords, armor and shields. Additional shops can be found throughout the levels, along with treasure chests and even secret rooms. The default attack for most characters you control is a sword slash, which has a pretty short reach, even more so for tiny characters like Mouse-Man. Fortunately, you can also find special attacks, such as boomerangs, fireballs and lightning being dropped by defeated enemies. These are weaker than your sword attacks, but enable you to keep your distance. Just watch out as you lose all of your special attacks if you die and respawn back in town! So, keep an eye out for doors leading to nurses who can heal you or special blue potions that can restore all your health upon death.
While Lizardcube did a great job with the updated visuals, they weren’t slacking off when it comes to audio as well. The original 8-bit audio is still present in the game, but players can also listen to the re-orchestrated soundtrack that features everything from cellos and clarinets to guitars, mandolins and violins. These instruments breathe brand new life into the classic tunes and sound great. It is also impressive how seamlessly you can switch between the two audio tracks with the tap of a button. The controls for The Dragon’s Trap are responsive, but as always with platform titles, playing with a good controller is recommended. The controls are faithful to the original, which means they can feel a little slippery at first, but it is easy to get used to this.
There is no doubt that Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap sets a very high standard for all future remakes of classic retro titles. It looks great, sounds great, plays just like the original and comes with a ton of extra content, such as artwork and videos of the audio recording sessions. About the only downside is that players who played the original 1989 version to death will be able to breeze through this update very quickly. However, the new difficulty level should provide a challenge even for these veterans. Overall, this is one of our favorite remakes yet and deserves to be played by fans of the original as well as anyone who loves the genre.
- OS: Windows 7
- Processor: Intel(R) Core(TM) i3-4030U CPU @1.90GHZ (4 CPUs)
- Memory: 4 GB RAM
- Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 4000-5000 series (game in 720p)
- DirectX: Version 10
- Storage: 1100 MB available space
- OS: Windows 10
- Processor: Intel® Core™ i3-7100 CPU @3.9 GHz(4CPUs), ~3.9GHz
- Memory: 8 GB RAM
- Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760
- DirectX: Version 11
- Storage: 1100 MB available space