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Sometimes in entertainment we get remakes, cover versions, call them what you will, of things. With varying degrees of success. For instance, Johnny Cash recorded that cover of Nine Inch Nails' “Hurt”. There was that remake of Ocean's Eleven, originally a Rat Pack movie, but with George Clooney and Brad Pitt, there's an endless list of them.
And that's exactly what's happened here, in gaming form. And much like that cover version, and that movie, DotEmu and Lizardcube have unleashed a gaming equivalent of a cult Master System classic in Wonderboy and The Dragon's Trap.
Yes, in short that does mean that in terms of quality, style, presentation, and feel the game is as good as that Johnny Cash cover, and that George Clooney movie. So, it needs to be checked out, played with, and loved by all.
The game is quite a simple affair, in that it's a 2D side scrolling adventure from the 8bit era, that sees you as Wonderboy (or Wondergirl if you like) trying to cure a curse put on them by the evil Meka Dragon. This curse sees you starting off as a fire breathing lizard person, battling through a landscape of evil plants, creatures and clouds, finding your way towards that cure via a few transformations into other creatures along the way.
Throughout the game, you'll become a mouse, lion, weird fish thing, and a hawk, and all of those transformations have their own abilities that will help you along the way, and allowing you to access various parts of the game that other creatures cannot reach.
The game was largely unknown outside of Europe where Sega's Master System was the console of choice back in the late 1980s-early 1990s. And for those of us old enough to remember the days of playing it first time around, there's the option to play the game with original sound and graphics at any time, at the touch of a button. The game has also received a modern update in graphics and sound, with beautiful, cartoon-like graphics, and toe tapping music that feels joyful and reminds us all of a happier, easier time.
On top of that the game also goes back to its old school roots by retaining the original password system to mark progression throughout the game, which again is a great reminder of a simpler time. This does mean that if you die in a dungeon you have to do the whole thing over again, which can be a little jarring for those who've never played games like this, but does add to the fun, and that “one more go” feeling which was for me, the cause of many a late night and missed homework assignment, from when I was a kid in the early 90s.
The game has taken an “If it ain't broke” approach to the gameplay mechanics, everything you'd expect from endurance over tactics boss battles, through to fast fingered dodging of projectiles is there, as it should be, and presented in a lush, beautiful, hand painted style.
It's a game you really can't go wrong with. And if you want further proof, check out the first 10 minutes of gameplay below.
You can download it now on PS4/Xbox One/Nintendo Switch. And if you do, you'll be the proud owner of one of the best retro remakes ever made, and the gaming equivalent to the most magical of musical cover versions.
Villan Verdict 9/10