Developer Lizardcube's sublime 2017 Wonder Boy 3 remake, Wonder Boy: The Dragon's Trap, is heading to iOS and Android devices next month, on May 30th.
Not to be confused with developer Game Atelier's equally recommended Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom (a completely new game inspired by the original Wonder Boy series), The Dragon's Trap is a loving update of Sega's Master System classic Wonder Boy 3, complete with a breathtaking audio-visual makeover.
In gameplay terms, a few nips and tweaks aside, it's identical to the 1989 original (and you can even play the whole thing using the original Master System graphics if you prefer), making for a sometimes odd experience, as The Dragon's Trap's gorgeous presentation jostles against an underlying game design that hasn't had much in the way of finessing for the modern era.
Thankfully, Wonder Boy 3 still holds up today, and its exploration-based platforming - in which more areas of the large, interconnected map open up as you gain skills from new animal transformations - is a genuine delight, even without those modern day niceties (and I say this as someone who experienced the game for the first time in its 2017 guise).
It's an enormously enjoyable adventure, made even better through that wonderful presentation. The whole thing, with its delicate hand-drawn art, is a visual treat, and it's equally strong in the sound department. Composer Michael Geyre re-imagined Shinichi Sakamoto's catchy chip-tune music for Lizardcube's Wonder Boy's remake, using real instruments, and the result is one of my very favourite soundtracks in recent years.
Quite how well Wonder Boy: The Dragon's Trap's retro platforming will translate to touchscreen devices is unclear, but hopefully Lizardcube has handled the transition with the same care it showed first time around. We'll know more when the game releases on the iOS App Store and Google Play Store (for £7.49, with a 30% discount for Android pre-orders) on May 30th.