Wonder Boy: The Dragon's Trap - PlayStation 4 Review

A nice fusion of modern day vibe with a retro style feel.

Game Info

  • System: PlayStation 4, Steam, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
  • Publisher: DotEmu
  • Developer: LizardCube
  • Release Date: April 18, 2017

Wonder Boy: The Dragon's Trap - Consoles Launch trailer

Who it Caters to

Anyone who loves a good challenge may want to pick up Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap because it provides a lot of replay value, and is an absolute blast to play. The team at DotEmu and LizardCube did a stellar job of fusing together the classic 8-bit style that Wonder Boy was revered for, with a more modern twist in terms of visual appeal. What you get is this nice blend of old and new while the gameplay behind it all feels fluid and intuitive. If you’re a fan of the retro style then certainly Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap is up your alley, along with its very well designed and creative stage design which really compliment the platforming adventure.

What to Expect

Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap comes with a lot of perks out of the box, one of which is having the opportunity to play as multiple characters in one game. Each character you use comes with their own perks which you’ll have to optimize correctly in order to overcome obstacles, or successfully beat bosses. Much of the game revolves around you knowing when to swap in and out of each character in order to find hidden items, but perhaps the real fun behind it all is just being able to test each character’s strengths and weaknesses. Bosses remind us of those good old days when you had to take a few beatings before you could clearly understand the pattern, and when you’ve managed to determine the best course of action the feeling you get afterwards is satisfying. Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap can be played in two ways by simply pressing the R2 button, either in retro mode or the modern mode. Again the retro mode takes you back to the original and the colors are totally vibrant and stand out beautifully in HD. If you’re not used to all the strong colors however, that’s where the modern view comes into play where the colors are a little warmer and animations of course are much smoother.

Story

The main protagonist has been cursed into a half-human, half lizard creature by the evil Meka-Dragon and so now you’re on an expedition to find the cure. The only way of returning back to your original form is to find the Salamander Cross, which is a powerful item used to ward off evil curses. Will you be able to find it in time or suffer the lifelong pain of this wretched curse?

Gameplay

So let’s hop into the good stuff which is the gameplay, and boy that’s where Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap stands out in a league of its own. The concept of course remains the same in terms of its platform action style, but the minute you start running around it becomes a game of being visually aware of enemy patterns. There will be a lot of dying in the early stages of the game since a lot of the enemies are placed in such a way to throw you off and create uncomfortable obstacles. You start the game off by choosing which character to go in with, a male or a female. The overall game doesn’t change whether you choose a male or female, but one interesting thing we noticed is the game will say Wonder Girl instead of Wonder Boy if you decide to go with the cute girl. Once you get the hang of everything, Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap is all about planning and execution, running safely through each stage trying to minimize damage as you go forward.

Going into specifics pertaining to each character, there are five into which you can transform. You have Lizard-Man, Mouse-Man, Piranha-Man, Lion-Man, and Hawk-Man, all of them come with specific tools that you’ll figure out how to optimize as you play along. Out of all the transformations, we personally loved Mouse-Man best because this little tiny dude can traverse up walls that most of the cast can’t, which can open up new areas where special chests await you. His small stature also allows him to go under enemy attacks such as those pesky fireballs from the sunflowers, while his trusted shield can also prevent taking unnecessary damage. The game does a great job of transitioning through characters as they become viable, and allows you to swap between them when you’re able to find the special transformation room. Boss battles, as stated earlier, really remind us of those good old days when the objective wasn’t to just run in and be aggressive but you had to really pay close attention to visual cues to better punish the enemy. That feeling of satisfaction still resonates within our souls and that’s the true treasure of playing through Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap. It’s refreshing in so many ways while still retaining the very same classical aspects that made platformers so fun back in the day. All the modern visuals are hand drawn to perfection and look incredibly stunning as you race through each stage. The water stages looked the most vibrant as the blues really stood out and complimented everything else around it.

Another big plus is being able to choose between the modern soundtrack or the retro style, while also being able to combine the two for a truly unique experience. Want to play the modern style with the retro tunes? Go for it! Want to play retro but have a more modern appeal? That’s all there for you too. They’ve also implemented the once exclusive Japan only FM synth soundtrack to really push the audio levels, which is impressive. Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap isn’t very long in terms of the overall length but it truly is a short yet sweet experience that we recommend any fan of throwbacks should instantly buy. Its twenty dollar price tag is absolutely worth it because you’ll be coming back time after time especially if you decided to take the more challenging route, and chose the harder difficulty.

Honey's Gameplay Consensus:

Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap is like an old bottle of wine that’s aged superbly and every sip you take of it, your heart races with excitement and euphoria. It becomes addictive after a while to just run around and figure out ways to beat stages quickly ala speedrunning, and that’s really where the game shines. Speedrunners would have a field day with this one as there are plenty of ways to approach each level, with a lot of secrets that you can find along the way. This game is certainly worth buying so don’t sleep on it!

Honey's Pros:

  • Great blend of retro and modern style to create a very unique appeal.
  • Gameplay is addictive with plenty of replay value.
  • Hand drawn graphics look incredible in HD.

Honey's Cons:

  • Just too short.

Honey's Final Verdict:

We hope you found this review to be insightful and resourceful, with enough information to guide you towards making a better purchase decision. Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap is definitely worth it so don’t let the price tag scare you away but rather reel you in, because the adventure you’re about to embark on is a remarkable one. If you’re new to the platformer style adventure then Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap is actually a great title to pick up because it provides the basic fundamentals of how to successfully clear stages, avoid dangerous terrain, and pick up on patterns to make your experience more enriching. Be sure to follow us on Twitch to know when we go live with all things gaming, and of course follow us on Twitter to stay up to date on all the gaming news!

As always, for all things sweet, with news straight from Japan, be sure to keep it locked here on Honey’s Anime.

Rob

Editor/Writer

Author: Rob "NualphaJPN" B.

100% Vegan. A passionate fan of gaming, writing, journalism, anime, and philosophy. I've lived in Japan for many years and consider this place to be my permanent home. I love to travel around Japan and learn about the history and culture! Leave a comment if you enjoy my articles and join me on Discord! Take care!

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