Bluth Group

Digital Leisure


Dragon's Lair Review

By: John Doe

If you could have been there in 1983 when Dragon's Lair showed up at the arcade we frequented, you would understand the affinity most people have for that game. It literally blew our minds, and we were just trying to adjust to the awe-inspiring visuals of Pole Position and Tron for goodness sakes. I mean, this was a playable cartoon! I remember that Dragon's Lair was the first game to cost 50 cents, a small fortune back then. But we plugged that machine full of coins and tried to save Princess Daphne anyway. I was so nuts about Dragon's Lair, I actually owned a sprite version on cassette for the ADAM computer (the ADAM hooked up into the Colecovision and set my Dad back $1200!). Now, we have the DVD version for the PS2 in all of it's arcade glory. It's not perfect, but it's the closest you'll get to playing the real thing outside of purchasing an arcade version.


If you have no idea what Dragon's Lair (or other games in the series) are all about, let me bend your ear for a moment. Don Bluth who has created some great animated movies (American Tail, Titan AE, Land Before Time) and Rick Dyer created this game back in the early 80's. It was the first laser disc game, and that is why the visuals were so amazing; you really were playing an interactive cartoon.

In games such as this, you don't actually play them, as you would any other game; you simply give the game commands at certain intervals in the action. The controls are simple enough: 4 directions and one action button. When something happens on screen you'll have to decide which direction to press or if you should press the button. You've got 5 choices and one of them is the right one. Doesn't sound that difficult does it? But it's not that easy. You see, as you progress further into the game, you'll have to pull off many actions to beat the scene. It really comes down to being a game of memory with some trial and error. But that doesn't diminish the fun of it by any stretch. Games like Sega's Shenmue feature gameplay similar to this called QTE's, or Quick Time Events, where the buttons will flash on screen that you have to press at that instant. The difference being that Laser Disc games tell you when you need to make and action, but don't knock you over the head with the solution. Of course, Shenmue you can play for weeks at a time, Dragon's Lair will take you about 6 minutes in total once you figure everything out.

The only negative thing I can say about this game or any of the other DVD games, is that there is about a second pause in the action when you make a move. Although you eventually do learn to ignore it, it will always be present. This is not a fault of the game itself, but rather the DVD technology at the moment. The manual mentions a DVD player that doesn't have the delay, but at this point, that's only one DVD player out of how many? Future DVD players will resolve this issue. As this game is compatible with the PS2, you can use the Dual Shock 2 controller to play, instead of using a remote, which is far superior.

I have to say that Dragon's Lair is fun for the whole family. Anyone who sees this game in action will either have a nostalgia attack or want to play it, or probably both. You can't help but be entertained by the great animation of Dirk the Daring and his exploits. The game offers infinite continues from the spot where Dirk met his demise, which will allow you to work through this game in a day or two at most. It may be a tad short on replay value, but historically ALL arcade games come up lacking in that department when released for the home. If you are fortunate enough to have a PS2 (or DVD) these games are value priced to sell. You can pick up the whole collection for the same price as a new PS2 game. This game is especially great for younger children (7 and up) who may not have a lot of game playing skill yet. They'll love the cartoon and the fact that they just have to make simple movements without having to learn how to manipulate a character in a 3D environment. Last but not least, and it may be the nostalgia talking, but if you don't like this game, you are nuts.






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