Platform: PC, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, MacOS
Publisher: DotEmu, Nicalis (US), Headup Games (EU)
Release Date: April 18th, 2017 (Digital) – April 19th, 2018 (Physical Release)
Normally something like this I would put at the end of the review but I do have to give a massive shout out to Headup Games for making this all possible. When it comes to Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap, Headup Games dished out the physical release. As many people know by now, I personally love to show what I bought with my money and a physical release does just that. I’m not a digital type of guy. They went above and beyond with the release also. They made the cartridge an old classic version of the Master System Cartridge. They added a classic manual to the box, something that Switch games don’t come with, a nice, well-made keyring to go along with it and even a physical of the soundtrack! If you’re going to support anyone it needs to be these guys. Get some bang for your buck. Check out the physical release of the PlayStation 4 and Switch now. This is not a sponsor, just how impressed I am with the game’s physical release.
Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap is a remake of a 1989 game back on the Sega Master System called Wonder Boy III: The Dragon’s Trap, and was actually the third in the series. When I got the opportunity to review the game recently I jumped at the opportunity with full force. I never knew the game was a remake but more I thought it was just an Indie title that looked pretty cool. What is even cooler is the fact the remake is a reverse engineered version of the original. That is crazy. Not may remakes get reverse engineered and re-released and do so well!
A lot of the modern game is hand-drawn and looks awesome. Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap looks like an HD version of a PS1 game, sharper, sleeker, and smoother. The reason why I compare this to a PS1 game is a lot of PS1 platformers were side-scrollers and made the genre huge again with up-to-date graphics. Remember the likes of Crash Bandicoot and Rayman where they were both side-scrollers, however, although the background moved with the character, it moved slower than the foreground which gave it that depth of field. That is why and I think the game perfects that movement.
Obviously, when you first jump into a game with little to no tutorial you just press the buttons and find out the basics. Standard. But I was amazed when you press a certain shoulder button it brought back the original game that was smooth to play…instantly. You press it again and brought it back. No pause, no having to change settings, it was just there, instantly and I thought this was an awesome mechanic and found myself changing it times just to see certain areas of the game the way it was 29 years ago. Now when I was doing this in certain areas, one key area was a small box room with a chest that had a key in it and the detail of this little box was brilliant, had a massive sword, starry night in the background, floating box room, just a classic yet modern twist and I thought, lets check what this looked like 29 years ago. Well, little to nothing. Imagine a small box room in Mario. That’s all there was. Now, this is not a bad thing, not int he slightest. It shows how much thought and how much detail actually went into re-creating this game and giving you that imagination and even the thought process of what went into it.
When you begin in Monster Land you take control of a knight, a small adventurer if you must and you pretty much come across a boss not far into it, a Mecha Dragon. Think of a small version of Mecha Godzilla, this is it. When the adventurer defeated this dragon he/she was turned into a Lizard. A curse was afflicted upon you. Your job, and it’s a simple one, is to journey across Monster Land killing all the other dragons in the land to return back to your human-like form. It wasn’t described immediately what was going on but you kind of pick this up as you go along. Everytime you defeat a dragon you get changed into another monster such as a mouse or a piranha and they all have their own unique abilities. The mouse can climb on checkered blocks, the piranha, of course, can swim underwater and many more with that. This gives you that progression that is needed, you would have seen areas before that you couldn’t go but now you can.
Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap can be extremely challenging at times. Once you begin to gain more hearts it eases up a bit but for the first few fights, you will die, quite a bit. I did anyway. You will gain additional gear later on that you can buy throughout the game, armour, weapons, strengthen yourself and heal yourself. You get the idea. It’s not an over-thought RPG game, really simple but gives you that element of succeeding at the time, that element that you’re stronger than you were before.
From what I have seen with flicking back and forth between the original and the actual game is that it hasn’t changed much in terms of outcome or story or anything else. Aesthetically, it’s beautiful, it’s up to scratch but it’s the same old game. The story doesn’t really live up to modern times. It’s like a brand new Mario game where you save the princess side-scrolling. We really don’t get that anymore. We have open world games, we have adventurous games, this kind of just doesn’t live up to it.
I am reviewing this game on a Nintendo Switch and I find this is the perfect platform for such a game. This is the type of game you will take on your journeys but not tend to see people sitting at home spending many hours getting into this on their big screen TVs. It’s a time filler. And I like those, they fill up my journey’s from place to place and I get to enjoy them and not get bored. Not having to think too much but getting to enjoy something out of it.
I think Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap definitely raises the standard of side-scrolling classics and would love to see more in this format. The additional feature of changing between the classic and the new is a bonus that I love and you just do not see. A small change with a massive impact and would like to see more of this.