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10 tips to get you going in Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap

Like a lot of old-school games, Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap can be pretty difficult. The game might not be as difficult as the original Wonder Boy 3, but it’s no slouch either. You’ll undoubtedly get frustrated dying and being sent back to the town with no items. That’s what we’re here for, though. Today, we’re going to teach you 10, helpful tips to ensure that Wonder Boy is a lot easier for you.

10. Turn around

Wonder Boy is a weird little platformer. We’ve been trained to believe that being dropped into a level within a 2D platformer means you keep walking right until you get to your destination. That’s not how Wonder Boy works. Instead, you can, more often than not, walk left as well. There will be tons of enemies and stuff to find that way. Don’t think of the left paths as bonus content either. If you want to figure out where you’re supposed to go next, you’ll have travel both left and right paths.

9. Transform at will

Along your adventure, you’ll meet a shopkeeper selling something called the “Tasmanian Sword.” Buy it. This weapon will let you transform into any of your monsters when you want. To activate the effect, jump and then press “up” on your left analog stick or D-Pad, and “Y” on your chosen Switch controller. If you’re playing Wonder Boy on a different device, substitue “Y” for whatever button you use to attack.

8. The lizard can negate projectiles

Here’s something I wish Lizard Man made more obvious: His attack, a breath of fire, can be used to cancel enemy projectiles. So, if a plant is shooting something at you, breathe fire in the plant’s direction and poof, that projectile is gone. Now, that also cancels out your attack, so be prepared to follow-up with another fire breath before the plant tries attacking again.

7. Fly through levels, literally

When you finally get the Bird Man powers, you’ll notice one spectacular thing about this creature: He can fly! This ability isn’t very useful in any of Wonder Boy’s underground levels, but boy is it useful everywhere else! If you’re playing in a location that’s outside, fly as high as you can and proceed to skip all the enemies. This ability is nice for moments when you don’t want to deal with plant after plant or ghost after ghost.

6. Restore your health at the clinic

One thing that’s not immediately clear is what the clinic is for. Her sole item is a “cure” which, given the fact that you were cursed and the priest tells you to find a cure, you’d think that’s what you need to return to your human state. That’s not necessarily true. You’ll stumble upon the clinic in the middle of certain levels; that’s when she’s useful. Now if you purchase her cure you can regain any health you’ve lost during your journey.

5. Block projectiles with your shield

If you’re using a character with a shield (most of the cast), you can block projectiles! To do this, just don’t attack when you see a fireball or any projectile coming your way. The shield will absorb the damage so you can follow through with a counter-attack.

4. Walk, don’t run

Remember when you used to hear this in grade school? Well, that same, strict rule applies here as well. Enemies in Wonder Boy will routinely fire at you the second they see you on-screen. This leaves a very, very small window to react. With enemies who will fire high or low shots, it’s best to not even chance getting your health sapped. If you’re exploring an area for the first time, keep your eyes peeled, and tread carefully. This heightened sense of awareness will hopefully prepare you for any oncoming, surprise attacks.

3. Learn the abilities

Seriously, there’s nothing more aggravating than using the wrong ability, and then dying because you should’ve used the fireball to kill the enemy in front of you instead of trying the arrow that shoots up (WHY?!). In fact here’s what all the abilities do:

Fireball: Shoots three fireballs in front of you. Only hurts one enemy.
Tornado: Shoots a tornado in front of you. Will bounce off the first thing it hits. Perfect for killing stronger enemies who are stuck in a corner or ones that are below you.
Arrow: Shoots an arrow above you. Perfect for dealing with the moving clouds
Thunder: Heavily damages everything on screen. This ability will kill enemies with low health. Not very effective against bosses

Now that you know what each ability does, plan accordingly.

2. Grind the desert area

Grinding is one of the most important things you can do in Wonder Boy. As I mentioned in my first impressions article, you’ll die a lot. Grinding will help mitigate those deaths by providing you with an ample supply of potions to restore your health and abilities to take care of stronger enemies. The best place to grind is The Desert. The enemies here are ridiculously easy to kill and they drop tons of fireballs.

1. Quit

If you’re about to die, quickly return to the title screen. Doing so will allow you to start back at the entrance to the village with all your items in tact. It might take a few seconds to do this, but what’s a few seconds compared to losing 30 fireballs?