Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap (Switch, Xbox One) Review
When I was younger I was the proud owner of a Sega Master System video game system while all my friends and neighbors had a Nintendo Entertainment System. Sure they had their Zelda, Mario and Mike Tyson but I had better graphics, Shinobi, Alex Kidd, and Phantasy Star so I would just about call it even. There was one title which slipped past most gamer’s attention, even game starved SMS owners, and that was Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap.
A side scrolling adventure game, it quickly captured my attention when I first started to play it and by the time I finished it, it held a spot in my personal all-time best list. Picking up where there previous game (Monster Land) ended, you start off as a human battling the final boss from the previous game but instead of quietly accepting his defeat this time he places a dying curse upon you and you are transformed into a lizard. That was just one of the forms you would unlock during the game and others included a lion, hawk, mouse and piranha and each had their own special abilities; Lion could smash blocks, mouse could walk up walls, piranha could swim and eagle could fly.
Dragon’s Trap was in many ways our Metroid game. You could see areas and shortcuts that you could not access until you unlocked other monster transformations and the feeling of accomplishment when you could finally reach that previously inaccessible area was great. Now widely regarded as one of the SMS’s best games and in fact it is considered one of the best 8-bit games of all-time, praise I agree whole heartedly with.
When Lizardcube announced that they would be releasing a remake of the title I was thrilled, promising improved graphics and refined gameplay I was anxious to again step into the Wonder Boy universe for the first time in decades. I am thrilled to share with you that the game has lived up to my expectations and indeed has exceeded them in some areas.
High praise must be given to the graphics improvements; this is quite simply an amazing visual game. The detail and animations are top-notch and it is one of those games that my wife enjoys just watching me play. The graphics are placed over the original sprites (much like Halo: Master Chief Collection worked its magic) so with a press of a button you can switch between the original graphics and the new graphics on the fly. It really is amazing how far games have come but somehow the new graphics are what I used to see in my head when I played the SMS original. I am not sure if this was a lbor of love for Lizardcube but it sure feels like it.
The gameplay remains intact, for better or for worse. There is still a slightly floaty feel to the movements and it is easy to get stuck in certain spots with no clear direction but overall it is a worthy upgrade to the game and it gets my highest recommendation. If you have played the game before then get ready to be blown away and if you have never played, well I am jealous that you get to experience it for the first time looking as good as it does now.
Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap
Switch, Xbox One – $19.99