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REVIEW: Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap — ‘Same Can, New Label’


Published by: DotEmu
Developed by: Lizardcube
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch Sony PlayStation 4 Microsoft Xbox One PC (Steam, GOG)
Genre(s): Platform, Action Adventure
Mode(s): Single player
70/ 100

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Charming and vibrant visual art style. Great musical score. Unique retro features.


Could have benefited from modern gaming trends.

Posted June 15, 2017 by


Many games of old have long since pivoted from their 2D platforming roots, but a good platformer can stand the test of time. Though many gamers today might never have heard of Wonder Boy, developer Lizardcube took to making a modern version of the cult classic Wonder Boy 3: The Dragon’s Trap keeping as much of the original intact whilst re-imagining it with colorful new visuals and a wonderful new soundtrack.


The game starts off with an adventuring boy’s (or girl’s) quest nearing its end. Tasked with defeating the dreaded Meka-Dragon, he’s success is shortlived by an unanticipated Dragon’s curse, turning him into half-lizard. Now, the mutated boy sets out on a new quest, to explore the many dangers of Monster Island in an attempt to find the cure. In his journey he’ll slay many more cursed dragons, resulting in different transformations. Will he ever be Hu-man again?


The premise is mildly entertaining, but considering that this is a complete remake of 1989’s Wonder Boy 3: The Dragon’s Trap, it’s surprising how well the story holds up. All lines have been retained word for word, but the cut scenes, as brief as they were from the original, are exponentially more charming thanks to the art of Ben Fiquet. It’s like a colorful little children’s book I’d love to read as a kid or an adult.


The game has you traversing an interconnected world battling monsters, picking up gold and items as you make your way to the area’s end to battle one of the game’s many dragon bosses. These bosses all have different abilities and fight patterns with a shared weakness of being hit in the head. Each time you defeat a dragon, you’ll be transformed into one of the 6 possible transformations. Each transformation has a unique ability that helps you puzzle through Monster Land. Pirahna-man, for instance, can swim while Mouse-man, on the other hand, can walk on checkered walls, both lets you access previously unreachable areas.


Remade using reverse-engineered code from the original Master System version of the game, the game retains nearly 100% of its original content. Even decades old passwords —a means to save progress back in the day— work in this faithful remake. Having complete faith in the original’s timelessness, nearly all gameplay elements work exactly the same.


As accurate as this kind of remake is, it’s pretty much a double-edged sword. Even with the controls being optimized to today’s platforming standards, the game still could have benefited from modern gaming concepts. A world map, for instance, would have helped prevent all the times I got lost in Wonder Boy’s confusing interconnected worlds. I would have welcomed fast-travel, too, at least for the deeper parts of the map that requires you to backtrack. Monsters respawning whenever you transition to the next area is fine, but monsters respawning when out of view can get extremely annoying. Hardcore platformers would suggest that I just ‘git gud’ and maybe their right, but the whole idea was to bring this title to the newer generation of players, a compromise of both old and new game trends wouldn’t have hurt, especially if you can just toggle them on or off depending on player preference.

Visuals & Performance

I have to say, I really love the vibrant and colorful visual art style. Ben Fiquet perfectly re-imagines the world of Wonder Boy and all its inhabitants. There’s a lot of personality in each asset. Even the areas exhume a great sense of character. Paired by Michael Geyre’s beautiful rendition of Shinichi Sakamoto’s original compositions, creates an incredible charming world that’s a good enough reason to play.

Perhaps what really got me to appreciate the re-imagined visual and audio style are the retro features. You can toggle between retro and modern visuals instantly with a touch of a button, almost like an image filter you can turn on and off. You can also toggle between the original 8-bit audio to the modernized soundtrack. You can play in any combination of these features like my personal favorite -modern visuals on retro sound. It’s a neat little feature that’s great for both long-time fans and newcomers to appreciate.


Wonder Boy is a colorful little platformer packed with a personality and charm that’s enough reason to make you play. It’s rare to see a remake with this level of faithfulness to the original, but perhaps for good reason, as many a newcomer might be turned off with its outdated gaming trends. Fans of the series cannot miss such a faithful remake, and newcomers might still find a worthwhile adventure granted they’re willing to overlook these old-school limitations.

Dian Raval

Dian is a writer for Flipgeeks who, in his spare time, stares at a wall in his basement. If you'd like to discuss music, video games, or the infinite wisdom of concrete, follow him on twitter @iburnandfume or subscribe to his YouTube channel @iburnandfume. He's pretty much iburnandfume in everything. Apparently he... burns and fumes.


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