Despite playing games from as far back as the NES and Atari days, I actually had never played or even heard of “Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap”. Nevertheless, it turns out that even 30 years later, the game has somewhat of a cult following and is considered one of the shining gems of its time =) And you know what? After my time with the wonderful remaster, I think I would have to include myself in said following.
You take control as Wonder Boy (or if you so choose, Wonder Girl), on a quest to save the kingdom from an evil dragon. I promise it gets more original than that. After storming the castle to confront the beast, you are bested and transformed into a sort of “lizard man”. Unhappy with this situation and looking for revenge, you set out in search of some way of reversing the change; meeting friendly locals, not so friendly baddies, and unlocking loads of upgrades and items along the way.
Along with your lizard form, you can also morph into several other creatures: a mouse, a hawk, a lion, a fish, and of course, a normal boy (or girl). Each one of these forms features new moves or special attacks that allow the player to advance into brand-new areas. Once you unlock said form, you can change back and forth between them via secret doors to a seemingly lost dimension. The various areas and levels are packed with hidden doors, items, treasures and even challenge rooms, encouraging players to revisit areas each time they unlock a new ability. You can also purchase armor and weapons to change everything from attack damage, defense levels and even special abilities such as immunity to hot lava. When used correctly, these items can lead to some incredibly deep gameplay for such an early title in video games.
The gameplay and controls still feel tight and cohesive thirty years later. I rarely found myself blaming the game or controls for a death. While there are some cheap enemy placements, they are few and far between, and to be expected with retro titles such as this. While the game is not easy by any means, they have added three difficulty levels to help both the casual and hardcore players enjoy this remaster. The newly added hard mode even adds a countdown timer for those of you who enjoy torture. I will say I found myself getting a bit annoyed even on the normal difficulty setting, but then again, I’m not the same man of patience that I used to be.
Visually, the game is stunning. Flawlessly recreating the original 8-bit in all-new hand drawn artwork and animation, the game really looks fantastic. The audio has been fully reworked with classical instruments as well. It’s astounding the amount of care they took in making this title. They also allow the player to seamlessly swap between original visuals and sound during gameplay, akin to what we’ve seen with the Halo collection. It really does raise the bar for 8-bit remasters.
+ Fantastic animation and artwork
+ Clearly a labor of love
+ Sets a standard for remasters
+ Deep gameplay mechanics
– Retro difficulty
– Low replay value
– Casual gamers may feel lost
Sound and music: 5/5
Replay value: 3/5
All in all, “Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap” is an awesome little platformer that demonstrates that even decades old games still have a lot to offer, while showing just how a proper remaster should be done. I really must applaud Lizardcube for all the love and effort that went into this great release of a fan-favorite classic game.
Title: Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap
Genre: Retro Platformer
Release date: 2017-04-18
Difficulty: Medium to Hard
Spent time: +6 hours
Average grade internationally: 80%
PEGI age rating: 3+
Price: 19.99 USD
Robin Ek – Editor
The Gaming Ground
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