Let me start off by saying that if you ever owned Dragon’s Curse for the Turbo Grafx 16, and ever wished that that game had been continued… well, it was! Dragon’s Curse was actually Wonder Boy 3, and there have been something like 6 Wonder Boy games to date. This is not one of those games…
But it should be! Aggelos hits you right in the nostalgic feels for the oldschool side-scrolling platform RPG and doesn’t mire the gameplay in too much filthy plot or heathen exposition instead preferring to keep the story in bite-sized chunks, each about a minute long. You receive some hints to the big twist in the story within the first ten minutes of play but the game insists on beating you with the clue-by-four at numerous points by questioning your past, your identity and even having an oracle with a crystal ball promise to tell you only to double-back and say he cannot until the time is ‘right’. These don’t detract from the gameplay or even the cardboard cutout of a story though because they’re tropes of the series that this is a parody of/homage to, and anything different would change this into a vastly different and, dare I say, inferior product.
The default controller support is a bit touchy, with the movement being bound to the left stick, and the d-pad doing nothing whatsoever. This normally isn’t TOO big an issue, save that the vertical detection takes priority over the horizontal, so if you are more than ten degrees above or below the center parallel, you will do either a down or up attack, instead of your typical movement mid-jump (or even on the ground). Keyboard controls, being absolute inputs, remedy this issue, and the developers of the game are working on also enabling d-pad detection, but for now, you can get classic feel and gameplay using a simple key re-mapper.
The attacks and moves that you learn from slightly-hidden locations all pay homage to platformers of our youths, from the down-thrust and upslash from Zelda 2, to the air dash from Mega Man X series, and a protective bubble that both raises your defense for a hit, and also allows you to slowfall. Other elements allow you to create portals to hop between, which damages anything in the vector between, and also permits you to pass through semi-solids (grates, gates, and barred windows).
The music feels like it came straight from the Wonder Boy series, and the sound effects are spot on to the whole feel of the game too. For a sprite-based action platformer, I never felt like you needed graphics to be realistic or high-def, so long as you had solid gameplay, and this game definitely delivers.
This is the dragon’s curse remake that we SHOULD have gotten, in lieu of the flash-graphic-esque monstrosity that we were served. I highly recommend this game to everyone that likes the style.