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Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap review

Sega aficionados will certainly remember the Wonder Boy titles. Platforming gems from yesteryear that consisted of clever level, enemy and mechanics design. Indeed, these titles are fondly remembered and for good reason. The third title in the series, The Dragon’s Trap, was a particularly celebrated entry, and this splendid remastering allows veterans and newcomers to enjoy it with precisely the kind of modern refinements you’d expect. And despite some inherited issues stemming from the original game still being present, Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap is another terrific remaster of a classic that absolutely deserves to be played.

Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap is a short game but one with enough complexity to put up a stiff challenge and consume many hours of your time. It’s a combat platformer that eschews tricky jumping for strategically placed platforms, falls, enemies and obstacles. Indeed it’s more akin to a Metroidvania title than a traditional 2D platformers, with the world open to explore if you possess the abilities and knowledge of how to get to each area. The difficulty comes in the form of understanding how to progress and overcoming the fiendish enemies.

A wonderfully simple story sets your adventure up, however, it’s told essentially in reverse. The hero has reached the end of their journey and you immediately faceoff against a fearsome dragon boss, only to be cursed at the moment of your victory, transforming you into a dragon yourself. You must now seek a cure to this ailment, wandering through different parts of the world, all the while transforming into new beasts each time you defeat a boss. It’s inventive and refreshing, both now and back when it was originally released.

Quirky NPCs help guide your way in their own silly and charming manner, whether it’s the bored anthropomorphised pig who can sell you weapons and armour, or the comically irritated nurse who encourages you to get hurt more frequently so to charge you more for her care. It’s smile inducing, light humour within a vibrant world, which sees you visit a wide variety of different biomes, is charmingly immersive, made even more so by the spectacularly hand-drawn visuals.

However, don’t let the cute visuals deceive you, behind it all is a challenging adventure. Your lack of patience is used against you time and time again, with enemies following a variety of different movement and attack patterns to challenge your attentiveness. Learning their quirks and defeating or avoiding them takes practice, and a lapse in concentration can easily kill you, forcing you back to the town area and often leaving you with a lengthy trek back to where you fell. This can make the journey arduous and frustrating. The abilities of the creature you currently have the form of can elevate this somewhat, and collectable special items can give you a boost in combat, but it’s so very easy to lose your heats that make up your health, with new bosses, areas and enemies constituting a considerable threat the first time you encounter them.

Furthermore, there’s a lack of direction and purpose to the adventure, beyond that of the overall quest to cure the curse. Vague tips from the fortune-teller in the hub town can point you in the right direction if you can decipher them but otherwise It’s difficulty to decide where to explore and how to access particular areas, forcing trial and error approaches that can hurt the fun. This can be especially frustrating as the deaths begin to pile up due to the stiff challenge. This is an unfortunate side-effect from remastering older games that could have used some attention. However, otherwise the respect for the original game is exceptionally nostalgic and enjoyable to witness.

You can switch between the old, pixelated visuals of the original title and the new, wonderfully hand-drawn visuals instantly at the touch of a button. You can also switch between the original sound effects and music and the new versions. It’s a neat trick that we’re seeing more and more of in remasters but it’s a superb visual and audio comparison between the old and the new to really tap in to the nostalgia.

Indeed, Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap is a fantastic combat focused platformer, offering a short but impressively clever adventure with a stiff enough difficulty to test your patience and focus. Sure, these same elements are also the source of the majority of frustration you may suffer but overall it’s worth it.

Thanks to Xbox and DotEmu for supporting TiX

Wonder Boy introduced to Wonder Girl in new trailer

Wonder Boy

When French developer, LizardCube, revealed that they’d be creating a faithful but updated take on Wonder Boy, I was fairly excited. They recently confirmed that the game would feature a retro mode that would allow the player to mix and match the look of the original with a modern backing track and vice-versa. All of this is awesome for the retro-gamer. Now, Lizardcube and DotEMU have revealed a new feature to Wonder Boy: the Dragon’s Trap; Wonder Girl.

That’s right, along with Wonder Boy in his classic form, you will be able to play as the totally awesome, totally radical Wonder Girl. The developer has suggested that bringing the game to a larger, more diverse audience necessitated sprinkling the classic game with many improvements, one of which is a female playable character who is just as strong and just as fierce as the titular male hero.

Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap will faithfully recreate the layout and playability of the orignal SEGA cult-classic release. Featuring a huge interconnected world and allowing you to utilise the differing abilities of up to six playable forms for the hero. The game will also feature Hu-Girl, a long awaited co-star to Hu-Man. Switch from a modern look and sound to a retro-tastic 8-bit classic graphics and audio experience at any time during the game. Change it up to suit your mood, across the three difficulty levels.

A good curse makes for a good game. The Meka-Dragon has turned a lonesome adventurer into a half-human – half-lizard monstrosity. Explore the many traps of Monster Land in an effort to find a cure and defeat many stuff-throwing, curse-wielding dragons along the way. Turn into a Lizard, a Mouse, a Piranha, a Lion and a Hawk on your transformational journey back to being all human again.

Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap will be cursing the Xbox One from the 18th of April.

Switch it up with retro mode in Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap

Wonder Boy

So, there’s nothing nicer than when a developer takes a retro classic and not only seems to do it justice for the upgraded version, but also gives the original a hefty nod at the same time. LizardCube and DotEmu have revealed in a new trailer that their Wonder Boy release, The Dragon’s Trap, will feature an anytime switch to retro mode.

In reality, what does this mean for the player? Well, you can go full-retro with the original 8-bit grapahics and chip-tunes as shown in the picture above, or, you could stick with the full HD treatment throughout. There is also a great option, whereby you can mix and match the audio, offering you 8-bit chip-tune with HD visuals. The choice is literally yours. Here’s a comparison of the HD visuals.

Wonder Boy

That’s not all that the developers have have included. If you’ve still got the save code that the original Wonder Boy title gave you, in order to skip back to a given level, you will be able to enter that code into The Dragon’s Trap and skip to that level, which is an awesome feature. It’s probably sure to send a whole generation of older gamers scurrying through their parent’s loft in order to find that notebook, crammed full of hastily scribbled codes.

The most impressive part about this newly revealed switch feature, is that you don’t choose it at the start, or in the middle, or have it forced on you halfway through. You can choose any of the retro switch options any time during the game.

Cursed into a half-human, half-lizard monstrosity by the Meka-Dragon, a lonesome adventurer is facing the challenge of a lifetime. In search of a cure, our mutated anti-hero will explore the many traps of Monster Land.

This re-imagining of Westone Bit Entertainment’s original clasic Wonder Boy III: The Dragon’s Trap is as faithful as it is authentic, with the benediction of SEGA and series creator, Ryuichi Nishizawa.

Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap is scheduled for a Spring 2017 release. Here are those features in action.

Lizardcube bringing WonderBoy to Xbox One

WonderBoy

There’s nothing I love more than a really fine old-school platformer. When I was growing up, we really were spoiled for choice. Gods, Fire & Ice, the Dizzy series and Rainbow Islands were all amazingly addictive and fun to play. Developer Lizardcube have announced through publisher DotEmu, that Master System cult classic, WonderBoy III will be heading to Xbox One.

To give it it’s full title, WonderBoy The Dragon’s Trap, will be a faithful remake of the 1989 release. DotEmu have been on a relentlessly committed quest to untangle a heap of documents to be able to license this IP and create this first WonderBoy since 1994.

So, what will this be about? A good curse makes a good game. Turned into a half-human, half-lizard monstrosity by the Meka-Dragon, a lonesome adventurer is facing the challenge of a lifetime. In search of a cure, this mutated anti-hero will explore the many traps of Monster Land. Along the way you’ll have to defeat many stuff-throwing, curse-wielding dragons. That’s not all you’ll be facing however. Your body will be turned into a mouse, a lizard, a piranha, a lion and a hawk. However will you cope?

WonderBoy The Dragon’s Trap will also feature a huge interconnected world for your six form, shape-shifting hero. There are Zombie Dragons, Mummy Dragons, Samurai Dragons and more that you’ll face. The graphics are all hand-drawn, even down to the eye-patch wearing shop-keeper pig who may or may not provide a sense of warmth and direction.

WonderBoy The Dragon’s Trap has not had a concrete release date announced yet, although it will be coming ‘soon’.

Have a look at the reveal trailer below.

Pang Adventures review

I dropped many a penny into Pang’s coin op, so to see the brothers back with Pang Adventures on Xbox One makes me super happy – and with local co-op – it’s a game that I could sit down and enjoy with my five-year-old son, but could a game released back in the 90s still entertain the newest generation of gamers?

My son gave it his seal of approval with a firm “I really like it”. Part of his enjoyment was beating me to the score crown, awarded to the highest scoring player at the end of each timed round. I’ll give him his due; he did really well, beating me fair and square on several occasions. During the later levels and bosses he did struggle, so the missus stepped in to help out – her experience of the game was somewhat different. While fun, she felt it was quite repetitive. For me, Pang Adventures is the most cooperative bubble popping fun I’ve had since playing Bubble Bobble on the Commodore 64 with my brother.

Pang1

The premise of Pang Adventures is simple. Move one of the Pang brothers left or right to shoot at the alien bubble invaders, which bounce about the screen – Space Invaders on legs. Armed with a harpoon gun, you must time your shots to shoot upwards and hit a bubble or let them bounce into the rope of the harpoon. Each bubble splits into two when popped, getting progressively smaller until they pop out of existence. To progress, you must clear the screen of bubbles before the timer runs out.

There are numerous power-ups to collect, including a flamethrower, a shotgun and a laser – all of which have limited ammo. Some levels have bubbles filled with hazards, which can both help and hinder your progress. Joining the classic blue and red bubbles are some that have special abilities, like the electric charged bubble that discharges an electric bolt towards the ground when shot, these can be really tricky to deal with and adds a puzzle element to the levels, making you pick your shots methodically.

Pang2

There are also boss battles to overcome – one or two were particularly tough – but it was a good challenge. Each boss has a weak spot that you must hit while avoiding the bubble attacks that are spawned. These battles hit quite the difficulty spike from the standard levels, and while they are beatable, it can get frustrating to try again and again to defeat each one. They may be tough, but the bosses aren’t cheap. You’ll fail by rushing, which is made worse as the timer runs down – desperately attempting an extra hit at the boss’ weak spot when you should wait and time your shots rather than panic.

Outside of the game’s campaign Tour mode, there’s Score and Panic mode. Panic mode is a lot of fun and is really fast – it will fully test your reflexes and Pang abilities. Score mode is unlocked once you complete the campaign of Tour mode and is a mode taken straight from the arcade – three lives, no continues – you can get extra lives if you hit score milestones… how far through the campaign can you get? There’s even an achievement waiting for those that finish it.

Pang4

Pang Adventures is a challenging blast of nostalgia that brings enough new mechanics to give the series a fresh feel without taking it too far from the spirit of the original. Co-op is a lot of fun and it certainly helps to have another brother at your side – bosses are far easier to dispatch and levels can be breezed past. The puzzle levels were my favourite and it would have been great if there were a mode purely of this style.

Fans of the series will love Pang Adventures and while newcomers may not see why us oldies love Pang so much, there’s enough charm and challenge to make Pang an arcade title you really must own.

Pang3

Thanks to DotEmu and Xbox for supporting TiX

Pang take an adventure onto Xbox One

Pang Adventures has been released into the wilds of Xbox One. Pang was an arcade favourite back in the 90s and I’m pretty darn excited that there’s a new adventure that’s all shiny and ready for conquering on Xbox One.

The new game sees a return of the brothers, bringing the classic Pang style back over 100 levels of multi ball mayhem and while the new game packs in some new features, it retains the spirit of the original game.

Check out the launch trailer below.

 

Pang Adventures bounces to Xbox One

Pang is bouncing back to our screens with Pang Adventures. DotEmu and Pastagames are at the helm, and has the full support of the original Pang developers, Mitchell Corporation.

The addictive arcade shooter saw two brothers travelling the world to rid it of bouncing balls that were terrorising famous landmarks. Pang Adventures is aiming its sights at retaining the spirit of the original, known as Buster Bros. in North America and Pomping World in Japan, while bringing some exciting new features!

Whose bouncing up and down for this!