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»Wonder Boy III: The Dragon's Trap
  "Simply wonderful."

Graphics: 8

Gameplay: 9

Sound: 7

Value: 8
It’s odd to look back at Sega in the pre-Sonic days. I mean, their old mascot, Alex Kidd, had some decent games on the Master System, but just couldn’t make the jump onto the 16-bit generation. Stranger still would be the other games Sega made in the old SMS days. Try comparing the original Shinobi to the Genesis games, you’ll be in for quite a surprise. Stranger still would be the journey of Wonder Boy. It’s likely that most old-school gamers have played the original in some form a little company by the name of Hudson took the engine and replaced the protagonist with a little guy in a red baseball cap, and rechristened the game Adventure Island. From that point, the Wonder Boy games changed dramatically, ditching the original protagonist (the caveman Tom-Tom) for a new character (a knight simply known as “Wonder Boy”) and changed the game’s engine completely. This new form of Wonder Boy went on to survive all the way into the mid-point of the Genesis’s existence (well, at least in Japan).

The game starts at the climax of the game’s prequel, Wonder Boy in Monster Land. Wonder Boy has finally fought his way to the final lair, home of the Mecha Dragon. Fighting valiantly, he defeats the Mecha Dragon with ease. However, all is not well. Despite his victory, Wonder Boy finds himself transformed from a human into a hideous Lizard-Man. In order to regain his humanity, Wonder Boy must obtain the mystical item known as the Salamander Cross. In order to find it, he must defeat other dragons, each cursing (or blessing, depending on your viewpoint) him with new forms such as Hawk-Man or Mouse-Man.

For the most part, this game takes after its prequel. It’s a platformer with some RPG elements thrown in there. What RPG elements, you ask? Well, WB can be equipped with three types of items: swords, shields and armors. As time goes on, stronger items become available, but some weapons have special abilities, like making WB impervious to lava damage or increase the amount of gold obtained from defeating monsters, which brings me to another point: all monsters drop some kind of reward when defeated. Sometimes it’s gold, while other times it’s a healing item (hearts of varying sizes).

There are a few changes in the game’s structure compared to its prequel. First off, while Monster Land was divided into stages like most platformers and side-scrollers of the day, The Dragon’s Trap takes an approach that’s a little more “Metroidvanian”. The entire world is connected, with Wonder Boy’s hometown acting as the main hub base (with item shops, an inn, the Church and the entrances to the various other areas on both sides of the town).

There are also the aforementioned transformations. After defeating one of the Dragons, Wonder Boy receives a new transformation ability. The first of these is the Lizard-Man form, which is quite similar to the Human form found in the prologue, only lacking all of the power-ups and replacing the sword attack with a long-range fire breath attack. Other forms allow Wonder Boy to swing his sword in an arc and swim freely in water. WB is generally stuck in one form; transformations can’t be changed at any point. Instead, one must use the transformation chambers or a special item to transform. Shifting between forms is a necessity in this game, which adds a nice puzzle element to it.

The graphics in this game aren’t too bad. Everything fits onto the screen well enough, the colors are bright, and the game itself looks better than Wonder Boy in Monster Land, which is to be expected. The game’s soundtrack is also pretty good, especially with its repetitions of a main theme (dubbed “The Dragon’s Trap”) in various sections of the game. The sound effects, on the other hand, are pretty much standard for the time.

I’ll be honest with you folks: this has to be one of the best platformers on the Game Gear. This doesn’t exactly mean that this game is immaculate when it comes to replay, but it ends up better than the average platformer. The major point against The Dragon’s Trap’s replay value would be the password system, which due to the numerous elements of the game, ends up at about 20 characters per password. Ah, well. You can’t win them all. Still, it’s a fun game that holds up even to this day. There are other releases of the game, including Dragon’s Curse on the Turbo-Grafx 16, the original Sega Master System version, as well as the Japan-only Sega Ages Wonder Boy release for the PS2, which contains all of the games in the series.

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Posted on: Jul. 29th, 2007

     Review Recap
It’s a great game, ‘nuff said.

The colors look nice and everything’s clear. Not bad for a SMS port.

The music’s not too bad. Sound effects are a bit bland though.

 Replay Value
It’s a pretty good game, and while it may not have immediate replay, it’s more likely than not that you’ll revisit this game down the road.


Platform: Gamegear
Genre: Platform
Developer: West One
Publisher: SEGA
Release Date: Unknown
Save Type: 1 Slot
Players: 1