Video Game / Wonder Boy III: The Dragon's Trap

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Cover art for the remake. Clockwise from bottom right: Wonder Boy, Wonder Girl, Mouse-Man, Lizard-Man, Hawk-Man, Lion-Man, and Pirahna-Man.

Wonder Boy III: The Dragon's Trap (known in Japan as Monster World II: Dragon no Wana) is the fourth game in the "Wonder Boy" series. After being defeated by Wonder Boy following the end of Wonder Boy: Monster Land, the Meka Dragon places a curse on his killer. Wonder Boy turns into a Lizard-Man and now has to regain his human form, gaining other transformations in the process. Being made for consoles rather than an arcade game, Dragon's Trap ditches the stage-based format of previous games in favor of a free-roaming approach.

Dragon's Trap was originally released for the Sega Master System in 1989, followed by a portable version for the Game Gear in 1992. Hudson Soft also released a TurboGrafx-16 version titled Dragon's Curse (also known as Adventure Island in Japan).

Surprisingly, this game also received a modern remake as a collaboration between Lizardcube, DotEmu, and the original creator Ryuichi Nishizawa. Trailer here. The remake has released on the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, with PC at a later date, and has received critical acclaim for its HD artwork and remixed music, and is so faithful to the original gameplay that it can switch between the old visuals/music/sound effects and the new with a simple button press seamlessly. The game also provides an option to play as Wonder Girl, an alternate female version of the protagonist.

Tropes in Dragon's Trap:

  • Adaptation Distillation: The Game Gear version has several changes compared to the Master System original:
    • Maps are compressed, so they could fit on the Game Gear Screen. Some (like the village) are outright redesigned.
    • Identical Pig Men are replaced with different human NPCs.
    • The Charm Points stat is removed.
    • As a consequence of the previous point, Charm Stones have been redesigned and repurposed as Escape Ropes.
    • As a consequence of that point, warp rooms (the ones that only contain a door marked "return") have been removed.
  • Adaptation Dye-Job: Wonder Boy's in-game sprite has green hair instead of blond like he does in most official illustrations. The TurboGrafx-16 version, Dragon's Curse, depict him with the usual hair color though. Wonder Boy did, however, have green hair in the SG-1000 version of Wonder Boy (although not on the box art). The 2017 remake retains his green hair in gameplay and artwork, as well as giving Wonder Girl red hair.
  • All the Worlds Are a Stage: The final dungeon requires you to switch between all of your previous forms (except Lizard-Man) and use their abilities to reach the final boss.
  • Ambidextrous Sprite:
    • Averted for five of the six forms in the original game (didn't need to be averted for the Lizard-Man who didn't use any equipment). Though they do use the wrong sprites when Mouse-Man is climbing the left side of a wall or a ceiling.
    • It is however not averted in the 2017 remake, which uses hand-drawn graphics.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: The 2017 remake contains some:
    • The Charm Stone mechanic has been overhauled. The stones are no longer randomly dropped by enemies, and shops no longer require a set number of charm points to make higher tier weapons and armor available for purchase. This alleviates a lot of the grinding in the game. The Charm Stones still exist, and the secret doors that they unlock are also still in the game, but earning a stone requires completing an optional secret dungeon instead of grinding enemies. Collecting all 6 stones will provide the same effects as having 99 stones in the original version; unlocking all the invisible doors that provide shortcuts to the Boss Dragons.
    • Some of the enemies fought during the prologue now drop gold, allowing players who couldn't get much gold in the Meka Dragon's room to at least buy the Mithril Sword, making the beginning of the game proper slightly easier.
  • Auto-Revive: The potions work this way. When you completely run out of hearts at any given point, one potion is automatically used.
  • Bag of Spilling: Justified: The Legendary equipment is turned into Ivory equipment because of the curse.
  • Baleful Polymorph: The main premise of the game.
  • Bonus Dungeon: The 2017 remake adds six secret dungeons called The Unknown, one for each of the different forms. They contain stronger monsters and more difficult platforming challenges than were in the original game, and you can't change forms inside, even if you use the Tasmanian Sword. Beating a dungeon will give you a Charm stone, which will be added to your save file.
  • Broad Strokes: The finale of Wonder Boy in Monster Land is replayed at the beginning of the game, with all of the space alien details glossed over. Meka Dragon's Robotic Reveal is skipped, and no attention is drawn to the high-tech elements of the Dragon's castle.
  • Canon Foreigner: Wonder Girl and her default form, Hu-Girl, introduced in the 2017 remake.
  • Continuing Is Painful: Die once on your trek to a Boss Dragon, which is likely to happen, and you're taken straight back to the village hub, you'll keep quest items, but lose magic items.
  • Continuity Nod: The Tower contains a segment where the player falls down a long shaft, accompanied by a Background Music Override. It is a visual reference to a cave level in Wonder Boy In Monster Land which started with the player falling down several screens while this exact music played. However, the segment in question was omitted in the Master System version of that game, turning this into a Discontinuity Nod for players who never played the arcade version.
  • Country Switch: Playing the Master System version on a Japanese Mark III will change the game's title to Monster World II and will enable FM music if a sound module is connected to the console. Otherwise, the game's menus and messages will still be in English.
  • Creative Closing Credits:
    • In the Master System version, the credits start by showing the various forms the hero can assume, then lists all the enemies and bosses as the game's "cast" as well as names of music tracks used in the game and... that's it, there are no actual credits.
    • The 2017 remake brings back the enemy cast list (with typos intact), and then shows the Lizardcube staff credits with photographs of each team member. Childhood photos, specifically, showing their ages when the original game was released. The original Westone team also finally get their due.
  • Cursed with Awesome: You'd think that being turned into a dragon or lion-type monster would be bad, if not for the special abilities that came with them.
  • Escape Rope: Charm Stones are this in the Game Gear version.
  • Fan Remake:
    • A remake of the TurboGrafx-16 version was created by Vile1011. It is not a strict remake though, as it has, among other things, a more elaborate level design, numerous new locations, a new tier of gold-colored enemies, an optional dungeon (in addition to the several existing locations that were expanded to full-fledged dungeons) , and a new optional form. To top it off, Charm Stones were made rare and collectable, and getting all 50 of them opens the Brutal Bonus Level playable with Wonder Boy as a human after the Salamander Cross is retrieved.
    • The official remake by Lizardcube also started its life as a fan remake.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: Despite the Thunder Saber being said to be the only thing able to break the gray blocks, once you find it, every sword you own becomes capable of breaking blocks. The 2017 remake addresses its status as a permanent upgrade, as opposed to an Utility Weapon, by replacing it with a different kind of item, the Thunder Ring.
  • Guide Dang It:
    • There are secrets everywhere, unfortunately, the rooms where you can change monster forms, which you need to use, is in amongst those secrets!
    • The special qualities of weapons and armour are never explained in-game. It can be inferred that the Lucky Sword improves the drop rate of gold, but you're not likely to guess that the Tasmanian Sword lets you switch forms by using a special button input while its equipped.
  • 100% Completion: Lampshaded by the fortune teller pig in the 2017 remake, who'll comment "What are you still doing here?" if you talk to him after completing everything the game has to offer.
  • Hyperspace Arsenal: You can carry every possible piece of equipment and up to 99 of magical weapons and Charm Stones, but only three Medicines (the blue potions) and only one key.
  • Infinity+1 Sword: The Gallic Sword in the 2017 remake. It has a higher damage value than the Legendary Sword when wielded by the animal forms, and it increases the drop rate of magic items. It almost falls into Bragging Rights Reward territory, but fortunately you only need 4 of the 6 hidden Charm Stones to be able to purchase it, so it's definitely doable to obtain the sword before attempting The Very Definitely Final Dungeon.
  • Interchangeable Antimatter Keys: Even though some locks look different from others (depending on whether you have to unlock them once or every time), the same keys will work on all of them.
  • Interface Screw: A minor example: the pause menu is disabled in Boss Rooms and pressing pause during boss fights simply pauses the game.
  • Involuntary Transformation: Damn blue flames.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: Both the Japanese Game Gear version and the 2017 remake spoil all of the animal transformations on the main artwork.
  • Law of Chromatic Superiority: Most of the mooks come in three palette swapped varieties, with the red monsters being the weakest, the green ones being moderately strong and the blue ones being the strongest. The 2017 remake adds yellow/gold monsters that are significantly stronger than the blue variety. The yellow enemies are reserved for the Bonus Dungeons on normal and easy difficulty, but on hard difficulty they appear in most dungeons.
  • Level Editor: Vile1011's 2007 remake of Dragon's Curse has an exclusive "custom maps" feature which allows users to create and load their own areas.
  • Load-Bearing Boss: After defeating the mechanical dragon in the first castle, it collapses once you escape with it.
  • Many Spirits Inside of One: When cursed by the first dragon its fire soul merges into yours, trapping you into the form of a wingless dragon yourself. Defeating more beasts causes additional curses to be placed on-top of the original, though this does allow you to switch forms to progress.
  • Metroidvania: Each boss defeated gives you a new form, which allows you to access more areas.
  • Multiform Balance: While the forms generally get better as you progress through the game, each has its unique strengths and all of them are used in the final dungeon (except Lizard-Man, which you will probably never use again after getting Mouse-Man). More on that on the character sheet.
  • No Sidepaths, No Exploration, No Freedom: while the dungeons are all very obviously linear, the Daymio Dragon's palace takes the cake: the inside of the palace is entirely comprised of straight pathways with absolutely no obstacles other than the enemies.
  • One Size Fits All: All armors can equipped by the protagonist, no matter what form he's in.
  • Password Save: Relatively simple for the complexity of the game.
  • Pig Man: The shop owners and the guy who runs the church, at least in the Master System version.
  • Playable Epilogue: In the 2017 remake you're free to continue exploring the world as Hu-Man (or Hu-Girl) after defeating the final boss and watching the credits. There's also an extra dungeon that's only accessible in human form. Also, although the curse is technically broken, you're free to transform back into the animal forms using change rooms or the Tasmanian Sword.
  • Point Of No Continues: Inverted. Continues are disabled during the prologue (dying during the prologue restarts the game) , but are enabled once the cursed player sets foot in the village for the first time.
  • Recycled Title: The PC Engine version is named Adventure Island, but had nothing to do with the Hudson series of the same name (which branched off from a remake of the first Wonder Boy).
  • Remixed Level: The Meka Dragon's lair, which is actually a much shorter and much easier version of the previous game's final level. You are able to get there again towards the end of the game, only to find out that it is now populated by different monsters.
  • Scenery Porn: The 2017 remake's visuals is filled with detail without making the foreground look too busy, and it looks magnificent.
  • Sequel Number Snarl: Dragon's Trap came out the same year as Monster Lair and both games bore the title of Wonder Boy III. Note that this was never an issue in Japan, where Dragon's Trap is titled Monster World II: Dragon no Wana. Averted in the Game Gear port and the 2017 remake, which omit the number entirely.
  • Shape Shifter Swan Song: When Wonder Boy finally touches the Salamander Cross, he goes through all of his acquired forms in reverse order, and finally becomes human again.
  • Sudden Name Change: Despite the intro of the game depicting a condensed version of the end of Wonder Boy In Monster Land, the character is referred to as Wonder Boy rather than Bocke Lee Temjin or Book the Hero, reinforcing the main protagonist of both it and Wonder Boy as one in the same. This is further referenced in the 2017 remake, where the character select screen mentions that he "traded his skateboard for a sword and shield."
  • Super Not-Drowning Skills: Unless he's in the Hawk-Man form, Wonder Boy is not in the least uncomfortable walking around underwater. Though only in the form of Piranha-Man can actually swim and otherwise stays, uhm, benthic.
  • A Taste of Power: You get all of the Legendary equipment as soon as you start the game, but lose it after you escape the dragon's tower.
  • Utility Weapon: The Magical Saber, while horrible in battle, allows the player to create blocks out of thin air in two special rooms. The Thunder Saber is said to be this in the manual of the original game, but in practice it is more of a permanent upgrade (see Gameplay and Story Segregation above) .
  • The Very Definitely Final Dungeon: The Ominous Floating Castle where instead of using just the Hawk-Man form, the player has to use all available forms to advance.
  • Video Game Settings: Includes Shifting Sand Land, a Temple of Doom, Jungle Japes, Lethal Lava Land, Under the Sea, Gangplank Galleon, Wutai, and an Ominous Floating Castle in space.
  • We Have Forgotten the Phlebotinum: In the Game Gear version it is impossible to regain the Legendary Shield later in the game.

Alternative Title(s): Dragons Curse

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