Wonder Boy: The Dragon's Trap is too damn cute


Totes adorbs, they say

At trade shows, PR teams often try to get our attention by using phrases like “visceral” or “incredibly impressive graphics,” and it all sorta blends together after awhile. Not so with Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap, a remake of Dragon’s Curseon the Sega Master System. The PSX email enticing me to check out Lizardcube’s new game simply said “Guys, it’s so cute. You gotta see it. You just gotta.” After seeing digital people blasted to bits, shocked to death, and maimed in various ways, I was in the market for cute.

And cute I received!

I can’t claim any specific nostalgia or even memories of the Wonder Boyseries, but I didn’t need it to enjoy The Dragon’s Trap. It’s a side-scrolling action-RPG where you play as a shapeshifting boy who can turn into various forms(lizard, mouse, piranha, lion, hawk) attempting to defeat the Meka-Dragon. Each form gives you certain abilities changing both the way you traverse the too-dang-cute hand-drawn world and the way you fight the various nasties inhabiting it.

In my twenty or so minutes with the game, I played mostly as a half-dragon duder who could breathe little fire projectiles. Platforming and fighting wassimple: I just had to fire at little enemies that were color-coded to tell me how many hits they could withstand while I avoided falling into obstacles. Sub-weapons à la Castlevaniaconstantly dropped too, including boomerangs, arrows, and a magical tornado. This relative simplicity was relaxing in the middle of a trade show. I always knew where I had to go and what I had to achieve at a glance. This isn’t to say that each jump and fight was spoon-fed to me, but that The Dragon’s Trap‘s visual language is focused in a way that presents very well amidst flashing lights and the thwump thwump thwumpof conventions.

I didn’t see near as much as I would have liked to. From what I watched, forms like the mouse allow you to climb up walls and ceilings, completely changing how I would have approached the levels I was in. There were also shops to buy armor and items from that I checked out briefly but didn’t want to spend too much of my appointment gandering at. I’d like to take flight as the Hawk and see how differently the boss fight I suffered in would have played out. And also holy shit is it cute. This is a world where everything has a big ‘ol pair of googly eyes, and you kind of don’t want to kill any of the little adorable creatures. Even if cute stuff doesn’t usually get to you, the striking hand-drawn animation is chock-full of both vibrant colors and thickly drawn black lines, keeping backgrounds and characters distinct. It looks so nice in motion.

Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trapwill be coming out some time this year to consoles and PC.