Written by  :  Ryan Kelly (10)
Written on  :  Mar 17, 2005
Platform  :  3DO

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A daring undertaking, to say the least.

The Good

In Dragon's Lair, Dirk the Daring must rescue his darling Daphne from the dastardly dragon which resides in the castle's dark dungeon. That's an awful lot of D's, and Dragon's Lair's most important "D" is probably Don Bluth. At one time an animator for Disney, Bluth became quite well-known for movies he did after leaving the mouse house, such as "All Dogs go to Heaven," and he even animated the "Space Ace" TV show.

Bluth's fingerprints are all over this game, especially in the animation. The way Dirk moves (rather clumsily for a knight) and the way the princess swoons, among many other things, are absolutely priceless. None of this would have been possible, of course, without the advent of laser disc technology. Dragon's Lair was the first game to use it back in 1983. The animation was gorgeous, the sound played like a movie, and everything about the way this game looked was perfect.

All this having been said, the CD Rom port of Dragon's Lair takes the old arcade game, with its large-platter old-format laser discs, and condenses it onto one CD.

The Bad

Dragon's Lair was an impressive game in its time, but because of the large amount of processing overhead involved in reading the discs (which at the time streamed data horrendously slowly), the gameplay suffered notably. It is a problem that prevented laser disc games from being truly successful until the mid-1990's. The CD Rom port of Dragon's Lair is indeed virtually identical to the old arcade version, and it suffers from the same drawbacks..

Every time Dirk enters a new room, there are certain "windows of opportunity," for lack of a better term, that involve pressing a single button to either move Dirk (usually to dodge a creature or trap) or to swing his sword. It was most unfortunate then, as it is now, that there are no beefy combos. The whole game is essentially a test of critical thinking skills and reaction time. You can get more interactivity by playing Pong or Space Invaders.

Part of the charm of the arcade version was the slick joystick and leaf-switch button interface. The cabinet art was wonderful and added to the atmosphere of the game. With the CD Rom version, you have none of that.

The Bottom Line

If you're nostalgic for the bygone heyday of the quarter arcade, this game is worth a look. It is next to impossible to find Dragon's Lair in its cabinet form. Otherwise, give it a pass. You'd be better off dropping your ten bucks on dinner and a movie.