Breath of fire.
Welp. I have officially seen it all now. In the time of the remaster, we now have the return of a game from the Sega Master System. Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap is a remake of Wonder Boy 3: The Dragon’s Trap, and instead of just bringing the original pixels into the new generation, developer Lizardcube has reverse-engineered the code. This means a lot of the issues of the original have been updated, albeit not all of them. Still, it is miraculous to see such a niche game, and from an even more niche console, make its way into 2017.
The plot of Wonder Boy is simple. Players assume the role of Wonder Boy (or in this new release Wonder Girl) and are quickly turned into a fire-breathing dragon. The goal is to defeat other dragons, and return to human form. Along the way I gained the ability to morph into other animals, and thus giving me access to new areas. Think of it like a Metroid title.
Platforms: XB1 (reviewed), PS4, Switch, PC, Wii U
Price I’d Pay: $19.99
It is worth noting that the game was built in a time when difficulty would pad content, so expect to die often if patience is not exercised. In the beginning players have little health, and enemies do massive damage. This is also where some of the legacy issues come into play. While the team did some work to revitalize the engine, it still has some collision issues at times. I found my hits not connecting, and worse yet, stun locks are prevalent. Especially in boss fights. I died a lot.
Another nagging issue comes from the design. The game forces players to grind for random items in order to take on certain bosses. This was acceptable when I was 10 and only had one game to keep me occupied, but in 2017 it is a nuisance.
Controls also feel weird at times. The jumping felt off for the first few hours. I was unable to properly time and gauge distances, and the aforementioned collision issues with enemies. It just feels weird at times. I understand that the game was created in a time before these issues were perfected, but it doesn’t change how it feels today.
Visually I love what they have done with the game. Players can swap between retro and modern looks on-the-fly, complete with classic chiptune music. The modern style though is really breathtaking. The animations for every character feel like they were ripped out of a Disney movie. There really is little else like it on the market.
Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap is a fun, nostalgic romp that brings some of its legacy issues along for the ride. For those that can adapt to that, it is a great game. I am all for bringing back lesser-known titles, especially from consoles such as the Master System, as long as the same love and care is poured into them.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.