A lot can change in almost 30 years of gaming, but a good platformer is forever. Initially released in 1989 for the Sega MasterSystem, Wonder Boy 3: The Dragon’s Trap featured all the hallmarks of the (then) up-and-coming genre. Now, the team at Lizardcube has recreated it in painstaking detail – and while The Dragon’s Trap’s design definitely shows its age, it still has a few wonders in store for us thanks to a solid foundation, aesthetic upgrades, and some much-appreciated updates to the original programming.
The gameplay will be familiar to anyone who ever picked up a Metroid or Castlevania game released before 1995, or, more recently, Ori and the Blind Forest. Beginning with next to nothing, you fight your way through several areas connected via a central hub, stabbing snakes,crabs, ghosts, and other assorted monsters to collect new equipment and hunt down dragons that serve as boss creatures. Making your way through each sector is a satisfying exercise in patient advancement. With limited health, I had to attack cautiously, striking at just the right moment after learning and avoiding enemy attacks, which made combat feel more like Dark Souls than Donkey Kong.