The lights are on
I've written about it before, but I have a soft spot for Sega's Master System console. It never gained the widespread audience the NES did during its heyday, but it was home to several games I look back on fondly to this day. Alex Kidd had several solid titles, and I even got a kick out of the uniquely bizarre Psycho Fox, but the hands-down best game on the console was Wonder Boy III: The Dragon's Trap. It was a great platformer, with light-RPG elements and a hint of Metroid. A remaster of the game came out this week, and it made me grateful that I am such a hoarder – for reasons you'll soon understand (and potentially even benefit from).
Developer Lizardcube lovingly rebuilt the game's visuals with hand-drawn animations, and they did a remarkable job. The game looks great, and they added some much-needed personality to a few of the game's stiffer characters (Lion-Man, I am looking at you). As you might expect, you can swap between the rebuilt version and the original with the press of a button, and you can do the same with the soundtrack – choosing either the chiptune original or a nicely recorded orchestral remaster. That alone is enough for me to give a recommendation, but the team went one step further: they reverse-engineered the game's password system.
I can't overstate how happy that makes me. If you're a weirdo who still has passwords from their original playthrough of the game, you can enter it into the title screen and continue right where you left off. It's a little detail that really makes all the difference. I understand that not everyone either scribbled down their Wonder Boy III passwords, let alone kept them. But I cracked open my original box and found the paper my brother and I not-so-meticulously used to record our progress. I've scanned both sides for you, and you can click on the images for larger versions. I don't know where most of these passwords will take you, but that's part of the fun. Think of it as a more primitive form of one of my favorite archaeological endeavors.
We clearly weren't big on staying between the lines. It was a simpler time, or something like that. We also couldn't be bothered to write "hearts" in its entirety, favoring the abbreviated form, "hrts." Time is money.
Look. We never claimed to be organized.
One more thing!
This is a scan of the original game box. If you aren't familiar with the Master System, they came in hard plastic boxes similar to the ones Sega Genesis games would later use.
I absolutely love the "Sega for the '90s: The New Generation" sticker on the box.
This is a scan of the box that our remaster code came in. It didn't have a cartridge inside, but it was inside a faithful reproduction of the original box – complete with printed instructions. Best of all, the screenshots on the promo packaging faithfully recreate the ones you can see on the original box. I don't usually like to write about promo materials, but I had to make an exception here. I'm clearly not alone in my love for this game.
Wonder Boy: The Dragon's Trap is now available on PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch, and it's coming to PC later this spring. (And yes, they lost the "III" during the remaster.)
Email the author Jeff Cork, or follow on Twitter, Google+, Facebook, and Game Informer.