We’ve been following the development of Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap for PS4 from the moment it was announced, so we got in touch with Lizardcubed to talk about the game.
PS4Blog: Hi! Thank you for joining us at PS4blog.net. Could you please help us get this started by letting our readers know a bit about yourself and your work?
Omar: Hi! Thanks for having us! I am Omar Cornut, co-founder of a new Parisian game studio called Lizardcube. I am also the technical director of our current project Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap. Previously I was a programmer at Media Molecule in the UK (where I worked on Tearaway for the Vita, and a little of Dreams for PS4) and before that I was working at Q-Games on Kyoto (on games such as PixelJunk Shooter).
Ben: Hi, I’m Ben, the other co-founder and art director of Lizardcube. I’m an artist living in Paris. I have a background in illustration and animation, and I’ve been freelancing for animation, video games and writing my own comics for about ten years.
PS4B: We were definitely thrilled when we learned that Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap (Wonder Boy III) was getting an HD remake for PlayStation 4. What can you tell us about the game’s setting and story?
Omar: In The Dragon’s Trap you start as an adventurer looking for a fabled mechanical dragon. Just as you slay the final blow (merely a few minutes into the game), the dying dragon throws a curse at you and transform you into a half human half lizard character we call Lizard-Man. As you play through the game trying to lift that curse, your character gets transformed into different animals. Mouse-Man can walk on some ceiling and walls, Piranha-Man can access the deep-sea, Lion-Man has a far-reaching attack, Hawk-Man can fly, etc. The game is one of the earliest classic game of the genre we today call “Metroidvania” with an interconnected world that you can explore according to your character abilities.
PS4B: When did this particular remake begin? What sparked the renewed interest in giving this classic a new lease on life? Along with the new and very detailed visuals, are there any other major changes taking place for the game?
Omar: Being a big fan of the series I always wanted to make something with it, so it just came as a love project really. In the eighties it was a cult series for the kids owning Sega consoles – like, it was our Zelda and our Metroid combined! It’s got the exploration, the shield that does a little “tching” when hit by a weapon, the pile of secrets and the cool characters. Unfortunately Sega had a minority market-share back then.. so we’ve got a cool game with an existing fan base but with this new version we have an opportunity to reach even more people, all the younger audience but also, the older players who had a Nintendo or a computer and didn’t have a chance to play this title when it was first released. Let it be a redemption for them to finally play it!
Ben: We worked together in the past, and we both have a sweet spot for old Sega games. So in late 2014 Omar thought it was the right time and asked me if I wanted to join the project. I’ve always been a big fan of the original Wonder Boy’s games so when Omar told me about his ambitions to try remaking the game, I couldn’t wait any longer and started drawing right away. The universe is rich and vibrant and being a master system game, there was a lot of margin for improvements.
Omar: We were lucky to partner with DotEmu, who are also nuts about retro games and allowed to make this happen for real – otherwise it would just have been a fan dream.
We are building this game as an homage to the original version and to late eighties/early nineties games in general. So we really wanted to build it the same way games were made in that era, without clutter. In fact, I went quite deep and studied the original game code to understand precisely how it worked in great details. We are happy having a game that is well rounded, feels and plays very well, rather than throwing lots of things at it and lowering the quality.
So, we are remaking the visuals with hand-drawn animations and beautiful sceneries, recording a soundtrack with a collective of musician, making the physics smoother, the controls more reactive, etc. We will be adding improvements, some features and secrets to the original game as well. But don’t expect them to be major changes: the original game was great and well balanced, and we don’t want to mess with that balance, so we’re tackling changes with great care. And we certainly don’t want to offend the fans.
PS4B: What’s the current schedule for the game’s release? So far we have a “coming 2017” and were wondering if that has been narrowed down a bit more to a specific season.
Omar: Unfortunately it hasn’t been narrowed yet. We are working hard to bring it as early as we can in 2017 but at this point, there are still some development unknowns ahead, and they prevent us from deciding on a release date. We are doing our best, and we hope to have more information to share just around the corner.
PS4B: Is a full trophy list being considered for the game? Going from memory, there’s certainly a LOT to do in the original game, so that could perfectly transition into a trophy list with a Platinum trophy at the end of the road!
Omar: We are totally doing trophies of course! Some of the yet unannounced features are tied to trophies, but we haven’t nailed all of them yet, so we don’t have a definitive list. Some people want their trophies super challenging, and some are happy with getting all of them as fast as they can, so it is tricky to balance that out! We’ll update everyone once we have a solid list!
PS4B: It’s probably too early to tell, but is a physical release being considered for the game? If not a full retail release, perhaps a limited run release with someone like, say, Limited Run Games? Us collector’s LOVE to have physical copies!
Omar: Approximately one million people have asked us the same thing before! We will definitively look into it when we get closer to the release date, but we can’t promise anything at this point. For now our task is to raise awareness about the game and try to gauge how many people would want it and on which platforms.
Ben: The thing is, if we’re doing an actual physical release, we’d like to do it right. I’d love to add physical items for example, but all these things have to be carefully prepared. We are at the moment extremely focused on finishing the game and getting the word out.
PS4B: And now it’s time for us to go. Would you like to add anything else before we end this?
Ben: I hope everyone’s gonna have a blast playing our new version of the game and that it can reach long fans of the game as well as new players. We’re putting a lot of love into it, and we can’t wait to put it in your hands.
Omar: Please check out our website and blog! Your shares and feedbacks and super helpful – we are indeed reading all the comments. On our blog, we will be posting dev diaries about different aspects of the game, for those interested in following its progress. And of course, we will announce the release date and exact platforms as soon as we know them. You can also follow Lizardcube on Twitter as well as DotEmu – not to mention on Facebook – for more day to day news and dose of dragons :).