Despite the abundance of new video games being released on a daily basis, nostalgia seems to be the dish of choice right now. Unfortunately, not all throwbacks are successful in their execution (Double Dragon IV is a recent example), so I braced myself for Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap – a remake of the 1989 classic game that was originally released on the Sega Master System.
If you ever played a title on the Master System, you’re probably aware of how it competed with the far-superior NES for gamers’ hard-earned moolah. While it’s not exactly a console that we all crave to make a comeback, it did give us some proper gaming gems. Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap is a fond memory from this era, but it’s also a product of its time. So, could it still be enticing in 2017?
In terms of graphics and music, the game has received a major upgrade with some crisper handmade designs and new musical arrangements (although, you’re still able to play the 8-bit version as well). To be fair, it does feel more like a mobile game than a PS4 one, but take nothing away from the aesthetics that look rather snazzy in 60 fps widescreen.
The gameplay remains mostly the same as the original. Your chosen adventurer is cursed into a Lizard-Man. From here on out, you’ll journey across the world and several stages to defeat other creatures and return to your human form. There are quite a few power-ups, such as arrows and fireballs, as well as the ability to purchase new weapons and armour which is a nice addition. Plus, you’ll also gain new animal forms as you cruise through the game –it’s something that keeps you invested in the character’s development for a longer period.
The hand-to-hand combat mechanism is typical of an 8-bit platformer. If you’re not in the right place at the right time, you won’t hit the enemy. Once you discover the sweet spot, though, it shouldn’t be too difficult to defeat your enemies. The power-ups, when available, add a little more variety, but you’ll still need to rely on your weapon and armour upgrades to make a difference in your battles.
The biggest frustration of this game, however, proves to be the jump action – another feature typical of 8-bit platformers. At times, you cannot reach the area you want to and need to keep bouncing up and down on the same spot, wiggling the controller and hoping for the best. If you misjudge the jump, you won’t die, though; you’ll just fall down another level and have to work your way up again. Small blessings, I guess.
Overall, Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap is a pleasant trip down memory lane. Sure, apart from aesthetics, there isn’t much that differentiates it from the original, but it’s still a retro classic. If you’re in the mood for old-school gaming, you can’t go wrong with this title.