Overall - 60%
Wonder Boy: The Dragon's Trap is quite the looker, but the gameplay definitely shows its age. Fans of open-world platformers may enjoy scouring its world for secrets, but those weaned on modern-day titles might get frustrated with its controls and design.
Everything old is new again in DotEmu and Lizardcube’s Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap. A remake of the 1989 Master System original, does its tale of dragons and curses hold up in this day and age?
Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap Review
The world of Monster Land is a dangerous one for Wonder Boy and Wonder Girl. After defeating the Meka Dragon at the start of the game, our hero becomes cursed and turns into lizard-man. To lift this curse, players must find the Salamander Cross. The five hour journey has players slaying mummy dragons, zombie dragons, pirate dragons, and other outlandish dragons in order to find this sacred artifact.
However, each time a dragon is slayed, the curse changes form. After turning into the fire-breathing lizard-man, players later transform into mouse-man (who can climb on certain walls), piranha-man (who can swim underwater), lion-man (who can swing his sword in an arc), and hawk-man (who can fly). Each character has a unique trait, but the controls are better for some transformations than others. Players will no doubt be frustrated at mouse-man’s short sword range, or lament lion-man’s inability to duck attacks.
The shared controls for all characters are pretty simple overall. There is a jump, an attack, and a special move arsenal that can be decked out with power-ups around the world. Attacks and movements are rigid, and it can be hard to land an attack on an opponent that is jumping while spewing projectiles. The game can get downright brutal at times, with stun animations being common and some attacks taking half of your health. Armor and weapons can be purchased, and health upgrades can be found in hidden treasure chests, but The Dragon’s Trap makes you work for these perks.
The main draw of The Dragon’s Trap is easily the overhauled graphics and soundtrack. Both the hero and the enemies are lushly animated, and backgrounds pop with some serious attention to detail. It can get cluttered at times, making it hard to track down enemies, but the option to switch to the sprite-based original is available at the push of a button.
Unfortunately, being a 1:1 remake of the original makes the game feel somewhat dated. Though this game employs an open-world setup that encourages exploration, most areas are long corridors full of enemies and nothing else. Paired with a bevvy of the same enemies (albeit with a different-colored sprite/hat), and it can get a little repetitive. In addition, the logic to progress can be somewhat obtuse, with hidden doors and keys strewn across the world. Though there is a helpful pig that gives out clues in the hub area, players will no doubt be scratching their head at times, wondering where they need to go next.
Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap is quite the looker, but the gameplay definitely shows its age. Fans of open-world platformers may enjoy scouring its world for secrets, but those weaned on modern-day titles might get frustrated with its controls and design.