Wonder Boy The Dragon’s Trap is a fully rebooted version of the 1989 classic with hand-drawn visuals, re-orchestrated soundtrack and the inclusion of Wonder Girl, and if you’re feeling nostalgic, switch to the retro version in an instant. Are you wondering about picking Wonder Boy up? Then read our review…
In an era when nostalgia inducing games reign supreme but come with just as many of their bad qualities still in tact as their good ones, Wonder Boy offers a breath of fresh air. Wonder Boy comes fully upgraded for HD with beautiful, hand drawn animations and an impressive soundtrack. Players that are desperate for the old school Sega Master System style graphics and retro music should not despair, however, as Wonder Boy gives players the option to swap back to the old school pixel art and retro music on the fly whenever the urge strikes. Simply pulling the right trigger will wipe the screen and replace the modern art with the classic 8 bits, and pulling the trigger again will switch back. The same is true for players that want to listen to the retro soundtrack, simply click the right analogue stick when the urge strikes. No backing out to the main menu to change the style, just click a button and enjoy. Additionally, the retro music and graphics are independent of one another so that those that want to listen to retro music paired with the modern art style.
For gameplay, Wonder Boy sticks to its classic platforming roots. Our hero, a brave adventurer, is cursed with shapeshifting following a run in with the Meka-Dragon. It is up to the player to make the best of this curse, using the hero’s six mutations and the abilities that come with each to their benefit, to navigate the dangerous world of Monster Land. While Monster Land is not a large, expansive world like we’re accustomed to in most adventure games today, it still manages to be have very distinctive and interesting areas to explore that hold plenty of secrets. Players can continually revisit areas at their leisure, reaching new areas with alternative character mutations that may have been inaccessible in previous visits. Each area ultimately leads the player into a battle with unique dragon type, ranging from a Samurai Dragon all the way to a Zombie Dragon. Each boss is equipped with its own special attack, however they only take damage if they’re hit in the head. The boss dragons have a ridiculous amount of health, so they can take time and patience to eliminate. These battles do become a little monotonous feeling, as each boss dragon type only has the one attack, falling quickly into a predictable pattern that makes them almost too easy.
Shedding the historic “Games are made for boys” stereotype, Lizardcube also allows players to replace the original title character, Hu-man, with his new female counter part, Hu-girl. Choosing to do so not only changes the character’s design, but also the game’s title screen to reflect the player’s gender choice. There’s no benefit or detriment to playing either Hu-man or Hu-girl, everything else about the game remains the same – exactly as it should. The only instance where the main character’s gender is not swapped as it should be is in the mentions of the various animal curses bestowed upon the player. Lizard-man, Mouse-man, Piranha-man should in theory become Lizard-girl, Mouse-girl, Piranha-girl, etc. Unfortunately, they do not, but this little hiccup is only noticeable when shopping for or equipping armor and weapon upgrades. Its a minor blemish on what is an otherwise greatly appreciated addition.
Despite the minor missteps, Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap is an enjoyable experience that will appeal equally to fans of the original retro platformer and newcomers to the series alike. Monster Land may be a small world, but its jam packed full of adventure, charmingly colorful characters, and beautiful visuals. Lizardcube has managed to take a classic game, improve and modernize it, and still keep it feeling like a classic. Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap is retro done right.