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

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Bocke Lee Temjin with his animal transformation variants, Mouse-Man, Lion-Man, Piranha-Man, Lizard-Man, & Hawk-Man.
See the artwork for 2017 remake. 

Before you is the Monster World. Overcoming Various Hardships, you have at last entered into the Monster's Castle. Your target is the dreaded Dragon's Room. But unbeknownst to you is the fact the Dragon has the power to invoke curses on his enemies​.
- Introduction text

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 French studio Lizardcube, publisher DotEmu, and the original creator Ryuichi Nishizawa. Trailer here. The remake has released in April 2017 on the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, with PC in June, 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 & Nurse are replaced with different human NPCs which are originated from the sequel. Bonus points for Japanese players if they have played Monster World III before this game get release.
    • 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, depicts 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.
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  • 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. That said, there's actually an animation of the characters swapping the hands that hold their sword and shield in the remake when they change directions!
  • Animesque: Zigzagged in the remake; the artstyle is inspired by Animesque Franco-Belgian Comics, animation and video games, rather than by anime directly.
  • Anti-Climax Boss: If you have the Tasmanian Sword, just turn into Lion Man before you enter for the final boss. He'll chop up the Vampire Dragon in only a few hits, especially if you have the Legendary or Gallic Sword. The Vampire Dragon will be lucky to land even a single hit on you.
  • 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, with only one exception (see Infinity +1 Sword below). 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.
    • Unless the player uses retro graphics, the shops now show the stat boosts any given piece of equipment provides before the player buys it and potentially wastes money on something weaker than the equipment they currently have.
    • Once the player picks up a piece of equipment, if it is more powerful than the one currently in use, it will be automatically equipped.
    • Transforming at will using the Tasmanian Sword doesn't require pressing buttons on a different controller anymore. It has also been fixed to exclude the forms the main character doesn't have access to yet, as well as deliberately not working in certain areas, making it look more like a legitimate feature of the game, instead of a potentially game-breaking cheat code.
  • 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.
  • Belly Mouth: The Final Boss, Vampire Dragon, with a second head on his belly. It's as vulnerable as any other dragon's regular head.
  • 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.
  • Butt-Monkey: Lizard-man in the remake. It's the only form that you don't really need to use again after you get any others, is weaker than the rest statistically, and promotional material shows it beaten up on more than one occasion. In the room where you're able to swap forms, the other four have statues posed heroically in each corner, while it holds the podium you stand on the center of the room on its back, head hung and eyes closed.
  • Canon Foreigner: Wonder Girl and her default form, Hu-Girl, introduced in the 2017 remake.
  • Classic Video Game "Screw You"s: Admittedly, the game makes a habit of spamming enemies that like to spawn right on top of you.
  • 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. The remake replicates this feature, however the save system does keep track of items, meaning simply quitting to title screen before the death animation finishes and reloading the game will have the same effect as continuing, but with your items intact.
  • 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.
  • Cool Sword: The Tasmanian Sword is the most useful weapon in your arsenal, allowing you to generate a lightning bolt that transforms you into other forms you've picked up. Finding it means going to the Underground and passing the area where there's 3 lava sections to get past. Shortly after you will go to an area where you can head upwards or down. Go upwards and continue to the dead-end. The hidden weapon shop for the sword is there.
  • 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.
  • Cumulonemesis: Some levels include enemy clouds that relentlessly attack the player with lightning bolts.
  • Denial of Diagonal Attack: Most of the forms only attack by thrusting their sword, and the items do not help with this a whole lot, the tornado being somewhat good for attacking enemies below, and the arrow only capable of shooting straight up. It isn't until one acquires the lion form does its arcing sword swing help address diagonal attacks.
  • Directionally Solid Platforms: The only entry in the series to not have them.
  • Disc-One Nuke: If you are in Mouse Man mode, go back to the tower which leads to the desert and look for the special blocks that Mouse Man can climb. If you have grinded for almost 10,000 gold you can follow those blocks until you enter a weapons shop. This weapons shop sells the Crystal set which has some of the best stats in the game. These will be stronger than anything you buy on your way to the Zombie Dragon or the Daimyo Castle.
    • If you get your hands on a boomerang (can be done as early as finding the hidden magic item store at the left tower in Hub Town), this magic item is extremely useful. It has good range and doesn't disappear from your inventory if you catch it, plus it can destroy damaging obstacles. The damage is poor but it can be thrown in quick succession and does damage on return too. Finally the boomerang can pick up items. This is a great weapon for killing mooks that are dangerous to fight in melee.
  • Dracolich: The Zombie Dragon is this, and presumably the Mummy and Vampire Dragons are as well.
  • 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!:
    • The special qualities of weapons and armor 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.
    • On the topic of the Tasmanian Sword, good luck finding that without a guide. It's only sold at a specific shop behind an invisible door that has zero hints that there's even anything notable about the area to begin with. There are other such doors in the game but this one is notable for hiding arguably the single most useful item in the entire game.
  • Heart Container: Three in the village, three in the overworld near dungeons, one in the final dungeon.
  • 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 either 99 (in the original game) or 6 (in the remake) Charm Stones, but only three Medicines and only one key.
  • Immediate Sequel: The game starts with beating the previous game's final boss.
  • Infinity +1 Sword: The Gallic Sword in the 2017 remake. It has a higher damage value than the Legendary Sword 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.
  • Lava is Boiling Kool-Aid: Lava is essentially "water that damages you". Vile1011's 2007 remake takes it even further by having the Dragon Mail (which makes you immune to lava) also remove the bird form's weakness to water.
  • 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.
  • Mercy Invincibility: You can still be knocked around by enemies while invincible, but this resets the timer, so you will stay invulnerable until you finally get some breathing room.
  • 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.
  • Necessary Drawback: Magic Items greatly outrange your sword plus they're the only way to attack enemies that are placed in areas you can't reach and then there's the Thunder item. As such they get some huge limitations - except for the Tornado, the damage they do per hit is rather poor especially when compared to attacks from your stronger transformations with mightier swords and they're single-use except for the boomerang. If you only have a few magic items, then they're Awesome, but Impractical, but they show their strength once you collect a large supply and they make a huge difference in surviving the Unknown Areas.
  • 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.
  • Non-Indicative Name: Despite the SMS version's English title, this game is actually the fourth Wonder Boy game, with the real Wonder Boy III being another game. Likely the reason later releases excluded the "III" from the title. The Japanese title was the more sensible Monster World II.
  • One Size Fits All: All armors can equipped by the protagonist, no matter what form he's in, although their effectiveness stat-wise does vary from form to form.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: From the very first boss you meet - a robot dragon, none of the dragons in this game fall into the traditional western or eastern dragon depictions.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: The final boss is the Vampire Dragon, but the only things vampiric about him are the fact that his wings resemble a cape and he has two teeth sticking out from his mouth. Everything else is just weird, especially the second face on its stomach. The remake adds a final detail to him being a vampire by having a coffin in the background.
  • Password Save: Relatively simple for the complexity of the game. According to this spoileriffic cheat page, the password is kept short by cutting a few corners: Money is approximated and saved in scientific notationnote , the game records the number of heart containers collected and not which of them were collectednote  and magic items have fixed numbers.
    • The remake, in addition to its primary save file system, accepts and gives out passwords.
  • Peninsula of Power Leveling: Quite a few of these. After defeating the Mummy Dragon and getting the Thunder Ring, you can return to the pyramid and jump on its outside bricks until you're all the way left. You'll find a Sphinx that has a heart container, but this room also has breakable brick walls and floors. Smash those bricks and you fall to a room with 8 treasure chests loaded with money, magic items and the final chest has a potion. Collect them and exit menu to repeat. If you have the Mouse Man transformation, you can go to the Jungle. There's an area which has red bats, skeletons and fireball spitting plants. The plants and skeletons almost always drop money bags or magic items (including the boomerang) while the bats drop higher-value gold coins - if you have the boomerang or can transform into the Lizard Man or Lion Man, then fighting through this area is trivial so repeating this area can net you lots of money and items at a good rate. If you have the Hawk Man transformation, just fly to the right of the town and you can find a building with a treasure chest. The treasure chest has plenty of money bags and a Thunder magic item. After opening the treasure, exit to menu and redo this to quickly earn a lot of money (treasure chests get refilled after exiting a game). If you have recovered the Legendary Sword, when you return to that room the chest will now have LOTS of money bags (by far the most) and a full heart, exit menu and repeat.
  • Pig Man: The shop owners and the guy who runs the church in the Master System version and the 2017 remake.
  • 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.
  • Purely Aesthetic Gender: Not only does selecting Hu-Girl not affect gameplay, the gender choice also stops being visually apparent halfway through the prologue.
  • Rearrange the Song: There was only one dungeon song in the original game, but the 2017 remake provides a different remix of the same song to suit the atmosphere of each dungeon.
  • Recycled Set: A lot of rooms, especially in dungeons, have the exact same layout with different props and enemies.
  • 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.
  • Retraux: The 2017 remake has an option to revert to the original's graphics and sounds, but the retro mode does feature several elements that couldn't have been achieved using the Master System technology. Still, being able to compare the remake graphics and sound with the original is breathtaking, practically a demonstration of how far gaming technology has come since the Master System, especially when you can do it literally at the press of a button.
    • The game also features multiple additional options to provide additional authenticity to the retro mode, including scanlines (in increments of 10%), a retro monitor effect (to emulate the more blurry look of a classic CRT display) and an FM Sound Unit option that replaces the retro soundtrack with one used for the titular sound unit (which added additional mono-sound channels).note 
  • Scenery Porn: The 2017 remake's visuals is filled with detail without making the foreground look too busy, and it looks magnificent.
  • Scratch Damage: With enough armour, it takes the weaker mooks a lot of hits to see any change on a single heart unit of yours. In the enemy's case, the Lizard-man's attacks are extremely weak against later bosses like the Daimyo Dragon. If you use the Lizard-man for this fight, the Daimyo Dragon only takes 1 point of damage and sometimes you'll actualy inflict no damage at all.
  • 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.
  • Sequence Break: Upon acquiring the Thunder Saber/Ring, it is possible to use Mouse-Man to enter the Underground and reach the Damiyo Castle without Lion-Man, skipping the Sunken Ship. Although if one does not acquire the Tasmanian Sword, the Damiyo Dragon cannot be defeated as it is too tall for Mouse-Man to hit.
  • Shapeshifter 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.
  • Source Music: In the remake, the shop music comes from a small radio within the shop itself.
  • Stalked by the Bell: The remake's Hard mode adds an hourglass reminiscent of Wonder Boy in Monster Land that takes away some health every time it empties. Thankfully, it turns off in safe areas like treasure rooms and the village.
  • 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, seemingly confirming them as one and 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." However, Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom later treats them as two separate characters.
  • 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, and makes blocks unbreakable as long as it is equipped. 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.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: After obtaining the Tasmanian sword, the player can freely switch between all forms by jumping and hitting Up + Attack. The original game allowed to transform even into forms that haven't been obtained yet (including Hu-Man) , but in exchange Up + Attack had to be pressed on a second controller.
  • Wake-Up Call Boss: An interesting example, but the very first boss - the Meka Dragon can deliver a big slap to the face. You start off as the Hu-Man, the mightiest version of Wonder Boy and have all the Legendary equipment and max hearts. When enemies hit you, it takes a while before your first heart takes any visible damage (almost like you're in invincible mode). Taking on the Meka Dragon, his flame stream is hard to avoid and does significant damage. The flame's length makes it easy for the Meka Dragon to punish you, when you fail to hit its head. And even with the Legendary Sword and Hu-Man strength, the Dragon can take a respectable amount of damage. With that fight, you'll appreciate how dangerous a dragon can be and then you get cursed into being the Lizard-Man...
  • We Have Forgotten the Phlebotinum: In the Game Gear version it is impossible to regain the Legendary Shield later in the game.
  • X-Ray Sparks: The 2017 remake uses some for its transformation sequences.

Alternative Title(s): Dragons Curse


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