The original Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap released in 1989 on the Sega Master System. Electronic Gaming Monthly bestowed the “Best Game of the Year” award to the title for its platforming and the action-adventure story developed by the team at Westone Bit Entertainment in Mukoujima, Sumida-Ku, Tokyo.
The team at Lizardcube recreated Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap to reignite the essence of the iconic game for the modern era. In the past, there have been many developers who’ve recreated fan favorite games to relive and recreate nostalgic memories with old games and have often failed, however the Lizardcube team have surpassed all expectations with this installment from beginning to end.
Defeating the Meka Dragon
Just like the original, the story begins with the main protagonist on a mission to defeat the Meka Dragon. On his adventure, our hero is inflicted with a curse which turns him into “Lizard-Man”, granting him fire-breathing powers. His mission is to undo the curse by defeating other Dragons across the land in hope of finding the Salamander Cross. Throughout their voyage on battling and slaying Dragon’s, our Wonder Boy or Wonder Girl (exclusive to the remake), learns that with each Dragon they defeat, they’re morphed into 6 different transformations, changing the mechanics of the game with their newly found abilities and forms.
Each transformation can be used to access different levels within the game. Maintaining the original story, the team at Lizardcube have recreated all the artwork and music to appeal to the modern day gamer. Many and myself included have never played the original Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap or any of the games within the series, however, this didn’t affect my experience whatsoever, it actually introduced me to a great game to which I had no knowledge prior to this review.
Gameplay & Performance
Unlike many games, we’re given an overview of the story with a short cutscene and in a matter of seconds, our journey beings. I truly love that they fleshed out unnecessary tidbits and leaving it to the player to experience for themselves.
The game performs seamlessly on Nintendo Switch with it’s updated visuals. Each landscape and character has been revamped from its original 8-bit form, making it visually appealing to all players running at a smooth 60 frames per second at the resolution of 1080p in docked and 720P at 60 frames per second in handheld mode. What’s quite interesting about this game, in particular, is the given option to revert back to its retro form to appease old fans who prefer the original look with its classic audio. The soundtrack in this game was originally composed by Shinichi Sakamoto and was remade with classical instruments by the Lizardcube team.
Items such as coins, hearts, potions and secondary weapons are scattered throughout the game to assist your hero in their adventure, and trust me…. you’ll need them, especially if you’re playing on normal or hard mode. Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap is quite challenging however, the more you play the game and rack up on armor by purchasing them through the shops, the more prepared you become. In some circumstances during my play-through, I’ve died many times and I was surprised to see that you’d spawn back in The Village. The lack of a checkpoint system was frustrating to say the least.
Remembering the Retro Password
The Lizardcube team improved many aspects of the original game, but kept some old features in the remake to reward old players for their devotion to the series. Fans of the original Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap will be pleased to hear that their original passwords can be used in this remake of the game. In order to do this, players must navigate to the save-file menu in the title screen and hold ‘X’ to enter their retro password. As mentioned previously, I’ve never played a Wonder Boy game until this review, so I did some testing and found this old retro password and it worked!
This retro password will give you all items and full health when starting your adventure, however, if you do choose to use this password, it ruins the fun of exploring and unlocking items. It also gives you maximum coins and starts you off as Hawk Man and not Lizard Man.
Whether you are an old fan of the Wonder Boy series or looking for games to play, I recommend buying Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap, for its beautiful art style and immersive experience. I don’t have many concerns regarding this game other than the lack of a checkpoint system which would’ve been great to have, especially for difficult missions within the game, overall it was a great game and very short to complete. During my play-through, it took me about 6 hours to fully beat the game, and I can’t wait to play it once again. Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap is available for download on Nintendo Switch via eShop for $19.99/€19.99.