Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap (PS4, Switch, Xbox One, PC)

Back in the day, Wonder Boy was a game series with lots of sequels and spinoffs, and even has ties with the Adventure Island titles.  But you really don’t hear about it much today.  But that may change with the release of Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap.  It’s a remake of the classic game of the same name, now with improved visuals and sound.  It’s really a remake done right, and this 2-D platforming adventure is available to download on PS4, Switch, Xbox One, and soon PCs, but reviewed on PS4 here.

In the game you can play as Wonder Boy, or new to the remake, Wonder Girl.  Both characters play the same, but one nice touch is they change the title screen to say Wonder Girl if you choose her.  You start the game off at the castle of the fierce Meka Dragon.  When you defeat it, the dragon puts a curse on you and turns you into a lizard.  Now you must embark on a journey to defeat other dragons to remove the curse.  Along the way you’ll be cursed and turned into other forms, each with different skills and abilities.  Lizard-Man can breathe fire, Mouse-Man can fit into small spaces and climb certain walls and ceilings, Piranha-Man can swim, Hawk-Man can fly, etc.  Each time you defeat a dragon you’ll get a new form.  You’ll be stuck in that form, but later in the game you can find special rooms where you can switch to other ones you’ve obtained.

You’ll explore the world in 2-D fashion, and must backtrack to areas with different forms to reach new areas and treasures.  So in a way, it has exploration elements similar to Metroid games.  Defeat enemies with your sword, fireballs, or other weapons to collect coins and other goodies.  Use coins at shops scattered about to buy new weapons and armor to increase your attack and defense.

There’s also a gallery mode where you can unlock all sorts of neat stuff.  Concept art, animations, and even videos of the musicians playing the remixed tunes from the game!  Cool!  Speaking of which, you can also switch between old and new music and visuals seamlessly with a push of a button.  And if you want new music but old graphics, or vice versa, you can do that, too.  It’s pretty neat how they did that. The new graphics have a unique water-colored look to them and the animations are fantastic.

The only problems I had with the game are very minor and mostly correlate to the original.  As with many other older games, sometimes goals can be a little obtuse and you might not know where to go next if you’re not familiar with the original game.  Some of the special armor you can buy has extra uses, like one being able to let you swim through lava.  But the game doesn’t tell you that until AFTER you buy it.  And finally, play control with some of the characters feels a little loose.  But that’s really it.

Like I said before, this is a remake done right.  Now I really can’t wait for the true Wonder Boy sequel, called Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom, which is being made by another company and is coming out later this year.  I played it at PAX South and I’m really excited for it.  If you’d like to read another one of my reviews of one of the games in the Wonder Boy series, check out my review of Monster World 4 which I wrote a few years ago.

Kid Factor:

Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap is rated E-10 with ESRB descriptors of Fantasy Violence and Use of Tobacco.  You hit silly looking enemies with swords, fireballs, and other weapons, and they just disappear when defeated.  When your character loses all his or her hearts, they just turn into an angel.  Some of the shopkeepers can be seen smoking cigarettes.  Reading skill is helpful for the text.  Like many classic game, it can be pretty tough, but luckily you can change the difficulty selection to Easy, Normal, and Hard.  But younger gamers who aren’t as experienced in 2-D platforming may still have trouble here and there.

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