Written by Jon Scarr
Nearly 30 years after its original release on the Master System, the team at Lizardcube brings us what is quite possibly the best retro remaster to grace a home console yet—Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap. If you grew up playing video games in the 80’s and 90’s, then your probably familiar with Wonder Boy. Read more in our Wonder Boy The Dragons Trap Review.
With a series of games that has spanned the Arcade, Master System, Game Gear, Genesis, TG16/PC Engine, and a port to the NES as Adventure Island—it was quite a popular franchise for its time. If you have never played a Wonder Boy game yet, Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap is the perfect place to start.
Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap starts out during the ending segment of the previous game in the series, Wonder Boy in Monster Land. After defeating the end boss, the Meka Dragon, you are placed under a curse that turns you into a reptilian Lizard Man.
To break the curse, you will have to defeat other dragons that rule over the land to obtain the holy relic called the Salamander Cross. While to story behind the Wonder Boy games evolved over the years to be more complex than its predecessors, it was never a compelling factor to play these games.
The same holds true here for Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap, but what this game lacks in a storyline is more than made up by the colourful graphics, enchanting characters, and compelling gameplay.
One of the biggest fears behind any remake of a classic game is if it’s gameplay still holds up for today’s gamer. I’ll be honest, I haven’t played the original Master System release since 1989 and was initially worried if the game would stand the test of time.
While it’s clear that this game has its roots from 1989, I was surprised at just how fun it is. It’s still not as friendly as games made today, and if you didn’t grow up playing games with this type of difficulty some may find that at times the game is unfair in its difficulty.
Making your way through the game isn’t going to be a cakewalk. Just like the original game, you explore various lands, defeat enemies to earn items, such as arrows and fireballs, and money which can be used to purchase new weapons and armor.
To get to each dragon and break the curse, you’ll have to master other animal forms and their special abilities: Piranha Man, who can move around much more easily in water; Mouse Man with his small size and wall-walking powers; Hawk Man, who can fly to previously-unreachable areas.; and Lion Man, with his more powerful attacks.
While Lizardcube didn’t make major changes in how the game plays from the original, they did make a few slight tweaks for the better. You now have the choice to play as Wonder Girl instead of the default Wonder Boy. Furthermore, Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap can accept passwords from the 1989 version of the game and even generate passwords in the new game that can be used in the original. How cool is that?
The amount of love and attention that Lizardcube put into this HD remake is simply amazing. From the very moment that I booted up the game for the first time, I was blown away by the game’s art style and animation. Simply put, the game looks freaking amazing! As a kid, I dreamed about the day I would play a game that looked and was animated this well.
Just like you, I’ve seen the many different trailers and screen shots before release. Let me tell you, they do not do the game justice. Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap is easily one of the best efforts I’ve seen bringing a sprite-based game into the modern era.
The game allows you to change between the original 8-bit graphics and Lizadcube’s version on the fly. Again, the difference is mind boggling and makes you realize just how far games have evolved.
Audio-wise, Lizardcube has reworked the game’s soundtrack with orchestrated pieces that pay homage to the original. Of course, just like with the visuals, you can change the music back to the original at any time.
Here a few tips and tricks to help get you started in the game:
Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap is one of if not the best retro remakes that I have played to date. While the game is not massive in size by any means, you’ll be able to completed it in four to seven hours, it doesn’t need to be.
If you have a Nintendo Switch, Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap’s byte sized gameplay is perfect for on the go. Although the game does have some flaws, it’s proof that a nearly 30-year-old game can be worth going back to.
I applaud and appreciate the hard work that Lizardcube has put into this game and hope to see more projects from them in the same vein.
Platform: Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, PlayStation 4
Genre: Platform, Action adventure
ESRB Rating: E 10+ (Everyone 10+)
Based in Toronto, Jon is a proud Canadian who loves all things gaming. He is a veteran of the video game and tech industry who has been in love with technology and gaming for over 20 years. Come say hi and join the conversation with Jon on Twitter.