Back in 1989 , the Master System received a new installment of the popular Wonder Boy saga (also known as Monster World), the fourth to be more precise, generally known as The dragon’s trap , although depending on the area it had different names and numbering. Interestingly, it never had the number four in its title.

Little relevant data aside, The dragon’s trap was highly valued at the time, boosting a saga that was already one of the best known at that time. Although we haven’t seen a new title since 1994, ports and adaptations have happened over the last decade. One of them is the one that concerns us at the moment.

Lizardcube and DotEmu have chosen the installment of the saga with the most curious game mechanics: at the beginning, as a human, we will suddenly face off against the Meka Dragon himself . Upon defeating him, a curse will transform us into a kind of lizard, without protection or weapons but capable of breathing fire. Our objective will be to find all the dragons that swarm through the kingdom to see if any of them allows us to eliminate the curse, although we will soon see that this is not the case, since after each fight with them, we will transform into a different being, with abilities totally different.The plot, except for a few opening scenes, is pretty non-existent: explore, search for dragons, and progress as your new abilities as various creatures allow you . It wasn’t very common in the 80s to explain things much further. In this case, instead of rescuing princesses or saving kingdoms, our main objective is to return to our human state.

The gameplay remains practically intact , since this remake has worked mainly on the artistic aspect. This means that we are mainly facing platforms to use, with very simple mechanics and based on the good design of its levels, quite simple. The dragon’s trap is also characterized by being made up of a single large level, not by a menu with several minor phases. We will start in a village where we can acquire our first weapons, heal ourselves if we need it, and as we change our abilities and physical form, we will be able to access one part or another of this world.

But we are not only faced with a standard platform. Add basic RPG touches , which translate into the purchase of various equipment that allows us to fight on equal terms against our enemies. A good idea that prevents us from going directly to the final boss of the phase, since normally we will only tickle him. We will have to repeat levels to get extra coins that allow us to acquire better objects . Even if we already have adequate equipment, it is good to take a walk before daring with the next phase to accumulate special shots and extra lives, very few, because if they kill us we will inevitably return to the village and we will have to repeat the process full level.

These characteristics, so rare in recent times and so common at that time, allow Wonder Boy to last a relevant time and not just a couple of hours . You have to explore, you have to improve, you have to repeat phases, you have to go calmly and you have to prepare a little before going bare-chested to face a dragon that is much stronger than us. To make matters worse, it depends on the animal we are at that moment, the equipment will have one value or another, so it will have to be changed continuously.

The controls are simple and adequate, they have been polished a bit compared to the originals but basically it is about jumping and swinging your sword. We have a series of limited special attacks, such as fireballs or arrows that always shoot upwards that, except on rare occasions, are not very relevant. It is noted, however, that in some specific cases the movement is directly inherited from a game from long ago : for example, when jumping into a well, there is no distinction between its edge and the hole to go down, which leads to some frustrations at specific times. But otherwise, it’s very well implemented.

We now turn to talk about what is truly important in this remake: the technical aspect. It is obvious that the vast majority of work has been focused in this direction . Not only have the graphics of the characters and settings been updated, but they have also been given a pristine appearance, of great quality and their own personality. Above all, the settings stand out, which used to be simple corridors or areas without much personality and are now castles on fire, deserts and sunken ships.

But not only the settings: the animations of our protagonist, in the cartoon style, are brilliantly done, above the average for the genre without a doubt. The design of the final bosses is also of a high quality , although this aspect of the playable theme has not withstood the years as well as the rest of the adventure, since their behavior patterns are very simple by today’s standards.But the visual aspect is not the only pleasant surprise that we find in The dragon’s trap: the soundtrack, composed by Michael Geyre based on the themes of the original game, is of a quality rarely seen in titles of small development. During the game, as we progress, we will unlock various extras such as pictures and videos. In one of them we can see the process of recording the soundtrack and I recommend that you see them.

Finally, before concluding, I could not miss an important detail: at the beginning of the game we can choose between being a man or a woman. Once again, this only affects the graphical aspect and not the playable one.