General game information
Game name: Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap
Release date: June 8, 2017
Price: US$ 19.99
Available on: Steam
Genre: 2D platformer
Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap is a faithful remake of Wonder Boy III: The Dragon’s Trap, updating the art style, graphics tech and sound to meet today’s standards, but keeping the tried and true gameplay that hooked platformer fans back in 1989 intact.
Setting and story
We play as Wonder Boy or Wonder Girl (developers Lizardcube have added the Wonder Girl character, which wasn’t present in the original, and it even comes with a title change) a heroic adventurer who needs to slay a number of dragons in order to lift a curse which transformed them into a lizard-like creature. As we advance through the game we’ll unlock new transformations, as well as traverse different worlds inspired by the dragon that rules them.
As I said previously, Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap is a faithful remake of the 1989 original, so its rock solid gameplay remains unchanged. For those who didn’t get to experience the Wonder Boy series during their heyday, they were very similar to the Metroidvania titles that have been taking the indie scene by storm lately.
Players control their character with the directional pad (or arrow keys) and they can perform attacks, jump or unleash special weapons with the face buttons. Most of our time will be spent traversing hazardous environments that require full use of our platforming skills, and along the way we’ll meet a small army’s worth of enemies sent by the dragons to stop us on our tracks. Defeated foes will drop special weapons, as well as coins that can be used to purchase new equipment. If we manage to beat a boss, we’ll be rewarded with a new transformation which will grant us access to new areas.
A small town acts as a hub of sorts, and we’ll be able to buy stats upgrades there (in the form of new equipment). If we ever get lost we can always visit a guide character, and a medic will offer her healing services in exchange for some coin.
As expected from an updated version of a classic platformer, the controls are incredibly responsive and I had no trouble getting used to them. The new graphics style does not affect gameplay in a negative way (if anything, some dangers become easier to see thanks to the HD art) and the only meaningful “modernization” I could find was the introduction of a tooltip designed to make players’ lives easier after a certain transformation is unlocked (the same tooltip could be found in the physical manual included with the 1989 original).
Graphics, sound and performance
Lizardcube did an astounding job with Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap‘s technical aspects. Gorgeous hand drawn visuals replace the old sprites, updating the game’s look without feeling out of place. Purists who wish to play with the original art can do so at the press of a button, and the difference can be staggering.
Sound FX and music were also lovingly remade (and we can mix and match new graphics style+classic sound/music and viceversa if we so desire). The new soundtrack arranged by Michael Geyre is an orchestral re-imagining of Shinichi Sakamoto’s original score, and I can only say that it fits the new art style like a glove.
Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap is a title that shows gamers that remakes can be an excellent idea if handled properly. Lizardcube has done an amazing job, masterfully updating the classic platformer’s audiovisual aspect yet leaving its solid gameplay untouched so new fans can experience it the way it was meant to be.
9/10 – Great.