Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap was first released in 1989 on the SEGA Master System. In today’s generation of gamers, it’s hard to get some people to understand the magic of older titles. With all of the flashy HD graphics and intriguing detail available now, it can be difficult to get into a game that came out 30 years ago. Unless, maybe, you make a Remastered version of that game. One that looks awesome but still plays like the original? Well, that’s exactly what the people at Lizardcube have done with Wonder Boy, and it turned out pretty great.
Wonder Boy: The Dragons Trap is an action/adventure game about a boy (or girl) who has been turned into a half-human, half-lizard type creature by a powerful enemy called the Mecha Dragon. If you’ve played a Metroid game then you will be familiar with the type of level layouts and exploration that comes with a 2D sidescroller like Wonder Boy. You can enter a new panel of the level by exiting from any side (up, down, left or right) as long as there isn’t something blocking the path. The Map is pretty big, spanning numerous, different areas and some that you can only access after you receive a different animal transformation. It’s a fun way to explore and there are many different routes and secret passages to try and find, which also adds to the replayability in the long run.
In order to return Wonder Boy to his Hu-Man form, you must find the Salamander Cross. A magical item that has the power to remove curses. On your way to find the magic cure you will fight against other dragon bosses that will transform your hero into other animal creatures. For example, after defeating the first boss he used his last bit of power to turn me from a lizard, into a mouse. Little do those dumb dragons know, with each new transformation you’re able to use new, helpful abilities that allow you to reach new areas (as mentioned above). When I was a lizard all my character could do was jump and spit out balls of fire. When I became a mouse I could now hold a sword and climb up walls. My only complaint is not being able to switch back and forth between characters. That would have been fun.
Aesthetically speaking the game looks awesome. I’m really enjoying this trend of having colorful, hand-drawn graphics in video games. It feels like I’m playing through a really in depth storybook, but I get to choose what happens. In Wonder Boys case I would give it a 10 if I were judging on graphics alone. Compared to how the game looked when it first released, it’s literally one hundred times better on the Switch. There is also a cool feature for fans that enjoy the original look and feel of Wonder Boy. While playing you can press the R button at any time to switch over to retro mode. This immediately changes the graphics over to how it looked when it originally released back in 1989, even the audio changes to the original chiptunes! It’s a really neat addition and I’m surprised I’ve never seen this before in a Remastered version of a retro game, so high five for that! You can even use checkpoint codes from the original game. So anyone who was a fan initially is going to love this version, just for those reasons.
There are a few things I didn’t like about Wonder Boy though. Even though the game looks great, sounds great and has an awesome nostalgic feeling, I couldn’t help but get frustrated with how it played. While this is a Remastered version of an old game, it still plays like an older game. There were times when I would get hit or die because the controls are so touchy. The jump command is also a bit off, so aerial enemies are a real test for your nerves. Also, the game over animation takes up quite a bit of time, so dying isn’t only bad, it’s time-consuming. The game is playable by all means, it’s just not going to be the smooth sailing ride you were hoping for. Also If you’re having trouble with the difficulty you can switch between three different settings, which I’m sure a lot of you will appreciate.
Wonder Boy: The Dragons Trap has had a complete makeover and even though it looks different the formula and gameplay haven’t changed much. While this version is still fun and looks amazing, it suffers from outdated gameplay that some players might not enjoy, or be able to relate to. However, taking a game from the late 80’s and making it feel the same, but look like it does on the Switch is a big accomplishment. So I still recommend checking it out, especially if you’re a fan of the original. Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap is available on the Nintendo Switch eShop for $19.99.
Review: Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap (Nintendo Switch)
Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap is a beautiful game that long time fans will enjoy immensely. Even though gameplay can be a little frustrating and outdated it’s still a game worth checking out and it’s one of the better adventure games available on the Nintendo Switch eShop.