Throwback with style in 'Wonder Boy: The Dragon's Trap'

In a throwback with a modern design, “Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap” harkens back to when games were tough while putting together a new artistic look that creates Saturday morning cartoon nostalgia.

The platformer is a retro remake of a game originally released in 1989. As Wonder Boy or Wonder Girl, players are challenged with removing a curse by defeating various dragons as animal-like characters.

The different characters, lizard, mouse, piranha, lion, and hawk, all have different abilities and powers to help players get by environmental challenges and enemies. The lizard breathes fire; the mouse can climb walls; the piranha can swim freely; the lion can attack above and below; and the hawk can fly.

Along the way, players can collect items to help them defeat foes. I was particularly fond on the boomerang, which strikes an opponent twice before returning to be used again.

The option to play as a female character is nice, but it doesn’t appear to have any gameplay advantages or disadvantages. However, it is the animation that really attracted me to the play.

The characters look and move like they are cartoons due to hand-animating every character frame by frame. It is a lot of work, but it really makes the elements clear and attractive, reminding me of a Saturday morning animated series.

If players still want that old school feel, there are switches and in-game toggles to change the music, visual elements, and sound effects back to what they were in 1989. It is a nice touch and highlights how far video games have come visually and aurally.

The different environments are challenging in their own right with enemies that are specific to the domains. Deserts, underwater, in castles, these areas are accessible via magic doors, moving from land to water to air with the turn of a knob.

Whenever the game started, restarted, or when there was a successful level clear, players are taken back to the same spot in the village. It did get a little tedious if I died in a level only to have to do it all over again. There are no save points along the way.

Players can increase their attack and defense strength by visiting stores offering different selections. The pig who runs the stores isn’t cheap, so gather your coins along the way.

A human nurse can heal up characters in mid-level, if you can find her. There are also opportunities to get potions that can revive players without having to restart at the village.

Overall, the game is a solid platformer that looks and sounds great. There aren’t any many new tricks and getting through the levels will require patience, as was the style back in the late 1990s. The retro looks and style are nice to see, but stick with the new designs for a more pleasing experience.

It is a throwback to be sure, but for those who want to experience it again or those who have never seen it, the adventures will revive memories of those bygone gaming experiences.

“Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap” is available now for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Switch. The game is rated E10+ for everyone 10 years of age and older due to fantasy violence and the use of tobacco. This post was done with a provided digital code for the PS4.