Sega’s Wonder Boy series was undoubtedly one of its best and brightest franchises during the 8 and 16-bit eras, with multiple entries released on the Master System, Genesis, and Game Gear. Sadly, the series never made the jump into the next generation, and Sega’s 2007 Monster World Collection on Playstation 2 in Japan as part of its Sega Ages line was the first commercial release since Monster World IV debuted on the Genesis 13 years earlier. Fans would see digital-only versions of individual Monster World games on consoles over the next few years, but no word ever came of a new installment. It seemed like Wonder Boy was to remain a thing of the past.
Thankfully, that would not be the case. The drought finally came to an end in 2015, when Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom was announced. A true sequel in everything but the name (which Sega owns), it promises to keep Westone’s wonderful adventure/platformer/RPG series alive and well. Fans were elated, and all was good.
As positive as things may seem to be going with a new sequel, the gaming gods seem to have taken favor with Wonder Boy, as it was recently announced that DotEmu (publisher)and Lizardcube (developer) would be doing a fully modern remake of the Master System classic Wonder Boy III: The Dragon’s Trap for release on PC and consoles. The project is headed by Omar Cornut, who worked on Tearaway, Pixeljunk Shooter, Soul Bubbles, and created the SMS emulator Meka. It also features some gorgeous artwork and animation by French artist Ben Fiquet.
Arguably the best in the original trilogy and one of the greatest games of the 8-bit era, The Dragon’s Trap is getting a complete HD overhaul, reportedly using a heavily-enhanced version emulator that seems to go far beyond a mere 1:1 remake of the original game. Increased frames of animation, additional layers of parallax scrolling, and animated cut scenes are some of the enhancements Lizardcube is working on. Cornut has disassembled and reverse-engineered the original game code to ensure that the remake remains as faithful to the original as possible. It looks like this version is well on its way to striking a balance between the bells and whistles of modern technology and the look and feel of the original game.
One question is how Sega fits into its release. It owns the Wonder Boy name (hence Adventure Island on NES and SNES), and apparently DotEmu and Lizardcube were able to secure permission to use it. It will be interesting to learn what it took for Sega to give its blessing. In addition to the name, the team has the right pedigree for the project, as both Westone founder Ryuichi Nishizawa and Shinji Fujiwara (LAT) are involved. Cornut considers Dragon’s Trap to be his passion project, so it’s not surprising that he’s gone to such lengths for this remake.This looks to be far above any mere fan release and has all the trappings of a triple AAA title. Here’s a short list of features:
- A huge interconnected world!
- 6 playable forms for our shape-shifting hero, with different abilities!
- Dragons of all kinds! A Zombie Dragon! A Mummy Dragon! A Samurai Dragon!
- An eye-patch wearing shop-keeper pig who may or may not provide a sense of warmth and direction!
- Beautiful, hand-drawn animated graphics!
- A memorable soundtrack, based on Shinichi Sakamoto’s originals, re-imagined and recorded with classical instruments!
- …and more to be announced!
We will be anxiously awaiting this remake and will be covering it every step until its release.