Classic Games come to
"Dragon's Lair" may be delighted to know the game has a new lease on life,
thanks to DVD technology.
"Lair" was an
interactive adventure created in the animation studio of Don "An American Tale"
Bluth. It featured a laserdisc engine in which you controlled lead character
Dirk the Daring and sent him on his way into a dark castle to rescue the lovely
Princess Daphne from the evil clutches of a fearsome dragon. The game happily
swallowed the quarters of many an arcade aficionado during the
I played it a
couple of times myself (purely for research, of course) before discovering that
there weren't enough quarters in the world to rescue that fair damsel. But now,
Gormley, Ontario's Digital Leisure has released the game on DVD, giving
frustrated swashbucklers on a budget the chance to finally get through the game
without mortgaging their futures.
available on both DVD Video and DVD ROM. I played the video version, which uses
your DVD player's remote control to make Dirk do your bidding.
probably won't go down in history as one of the great arcade games, which is a
shame: the idea that you get to be the star of an animated cartoon is terrific.
Unfortunately, unlike many of today's arcade and computer games, you don't have
full control of your character; all you can do is move Dirk in one of four
directions or take a swipe with his sword. If you make the right choice at the
right time, the adventure continues; if you don't, you're both Dragon meat.
This was still pretty neat stuff for its time, but the technology has marched
along quite a bit between the arcade "Dragon's Lair" and today's PC
Dragon's Lair is passive, with you sitting back and watch the beautifully
animated story advance to the next crucial point in the action. When you see
the yellow sparkle (on the DVD you also get an onscreen notification that it's
time to rumble) you have to be quick with your finger on the remote's arrow or
gives you five lives in which to complete your quest which, in my case, is
about seven thousand lives too few. Fortunately, you have ten seconds from your
"final death" to restart from where you left off. This means that, given enough
time, you can complete the adventure in one sitting.
Each time you
stop the video DVD, however, you're sent back to the beginning; there's no
"Save Game" feature. There was no such feature in the arcade game, either, but
it sure would be handy in the home setting (and, to be fair, it may be
available on the DVD-ROM - a version of which I didn't try). I can't think of
anyone other than the retired, unemployed, or shut in who could sit still long
enough to see Dirk through to his conclusion.
graphics are good, though the picture looked very soft and somewhat digitized
on an extremely high end digital projection TV on which I tried it. At home,
however, on my more modest higher end TV, it looked great.
animation is world class, and it's kind of neat to be part of the adventure.
The disc's Audio is encoded into Dolby Digital and sounds very good.
up the success of "Dragon's Lair" with "Space Ace," a sci-fi version of the
same basic arrangement. The transfer to DVD for Digital Leisure adds a couple
of features not on the first disc, including the ability to watch the whole
adventure as if it were a straightforward animated feature - albeit a very
a handy feature, because it lets you see where your quest should be taking you,
and that's a nice head's up. Unfortunately, it doesn't really make getting
there any easier...
The game works
the same way as Dragon's Lair, in that you use the "cursor control" keys on
your DVD player's remote control to choose where you want Ace to go or what you
want him to do. You're prompted by a little onscreen graphic, and a yellow glow
appears in the animation as well to give you a hint on what your action should
you'll make the right move, though...
The object of
the game is to prevent the evil Borf from using his "infanto ray" to reduce all
of humanity to drooling, diaper-clad moppets (kind of like our current
political class) - and only Ace and the lovely Kimberley have the wherewithal
to prevent it.
The liner notes
provide clues as to what each level's goal is without getting too specific
about how you have to reach it. Unfortunately, there's no "Save game" feature
that lets you rest your cursor key finger and come back later for a second
attempt (or millionth, for that matter). As with "Dragon's" the only way you
can stop is to either use the DVD player's pause control or - on most units -
press "Stop" once, then leave the disc in the player. Subsequent restarting
should resume the game where you left off.
is lovely and the audio is nice and clean. It has been remixed into two channel
interviews with animator par excellence Don Bluth and the game's co-creator
Rick Dyer, a look at some video footage that was used to promote the game's
original arcade release, and there are some trailers for upcoming Digital
If you liked
"Dragon's Lair" you'll probably be just as enthralled by "Space Ace," which is
an even better translation of the laserdisc arcade classic to the DVD
Dragon's Lair III
Dirk Daring Makes a Comeback
Dirk Daring, hero of the Don Bluth animated video game
Dragons Lair, is back in action in Dragons Lair III, a new DVD and
CD ROM game from Digital Leisure.
The original Dragons Lair used laserdisc technology in an
arcade setting to pry quarters from gamers pockets some 20 years or more
ago. It was a fascinating blend of classic animation and arcade gaming
technology and the concept lends itself very well to todays PC and DVD
Digital Leisure sent us the DVD version, which plays in ordinary
home theater DVD players and is controlled via the cursor control and enter
keys on the players remote. The game doesnt really break new ground
so far as gameplay is involved, but fans of Dirk will undoubtedly enjoy his new
adventures as he tries to rescue Princess Daphne from the evil clutches of the
One thing we really like about the DVD version, as opposed to the
coin-sucking arcade version, is that you can spend hours and hours trying to
get through the adventure without becoming a pauper, or looking like a real
klutz to all the other people in the arcade.
The animation isnt just a recycled version of Bluths
original (not that were trying to put down Bluths animation
in fact, were fans of Bluth), but instead offers new CG animation using
what the distributor calls Toon Shading technology. There are also
new characters and levels and you get three bonus scenes.
Yet theres a lot thats familiar, from the opening
screens and the skeletal transitions that rear their ugly heads when Dirk meets
his demise (which, alas, happened all too often when we played).
There are dangers to avoid, enemies to kill and puzzles to solve
as you guide Dirk through this adventures 43 levels and nine Boss
Battles. It may not be as sophisticated as some of the games available these
days for platforms such as PCs and Playstation 2, but the DVD version
plays in your living rooms DVD player and features an interface easy
enough for even an adult to figure out.
Dragons Lair 3, from Digital Leisure
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