Date: 01-04-2011 03:01
Author: Zahir Merchant

PDC profile: Zahir

Dragon's Lair was made way back in 1983 and has been the inspiration for the usage of Quick Time Events (QTEs) in games today. But how does this classic hold up to today's standards?

Into the Lair

Dragon's Lair is a game you will spend more time watching than actually playing. You see, you don't have any actual direct control over what is happening. This is because the story is told through quality hand drawn animation, which has been upscaled now to be presented in HD. You play the game with 5 buttons; Up, Down, Left, Right, and , which is the sword button. As the game progresses, you press the correct button at the correct time to proceed. Failure to do so results in a swift death. You perform various tasks, such as fighting off giant skeleton hands, dodging boulders, fighting floating swords and maces, and rafting down a river in a barrel. But be careful, lose all your lives and it is game over.

A Daring Rescue!
The story of Dragon's Lair is basic, but it gets the job done. You are placed into the shoes of Dirk the Daring, the reluctant hero. Your mission is to save the princess Daphne from the clutches of Singe the Dragon, who resides in the very bottom level of a castle filled with traps and bloodthirsty monsters. The animation is obviously aged, but it is still of a very high production value, so it still holds up fairly well today. The voice acting is pretty bad though, for example, the princess's shrill voice will make you cringe. Luckily, Dirk's yelps and screams caused by the castle's various dangers will make you laugh from how much he freaks out. The game has two ways to view the action; a traditional "arcade" view which shows the game being played as if it is being played on an arcade machine screen, or a full screen mode. If you desire even more of a challenge, you can also choose to disable the button prompts.

Slay the Dragon, Save the Girl
Being a HD port, this version of Dragon's Lair in particular has a few extra features and modes. There's a very brief tutorial to help newcomers, an ability to watch the entire game without dying, as well as the original "Attract Sequence," which would play on the arcade version to entice players to use their quarters on the machine. In terms of things that actually affect gameplay, you can play either the "Home Version" or "Arcade Version" of Dragon's Lair. The main differences I noticed between the two modes is that the home version of the game seems to last longer than an arcade version run-through, and also that the Arcade Version randomizes the rooms, while the Home Version takes you through each room in the original order. You can also set how many lives you have to work with, ranging from three, five, or unlimited. If that still doesn't present enough of a challenge, you can also choose to play the game on Easy or Hard, the latter of which presents even stricter timing, along with longer game sessions. The game also features online leaderboards, so you can see who exactly is the true hero of the land.

Ride off into the Sunset
Though it remains to be a very simple game in terms of gameplay, Dragon's Lair has not lost any of its challenge over the years. The only real problem with the game is that all the scenes are recycled at some point, but this is understandable. To the game's credit, it even tries to keep recycled scenes fresh by occasionally mirroring the scene, and reversing all of the button prompts you have to press in order to survive. If you enjoy a challenge with some great animations, Dragon's Lair just might be your game. I personally enjoyed my time with Dragon's Lair. The game presents an interesting challenge to gamers new and old. It seemed a bit light in content to me, but to a classic Dragon's Lair fan, this is probably a great HD version of their favorite game. If you weren't a fan of DL or Quick Time Events in the past, this HD port isn't going to change your mind.

Dragon's Lair was developed by Advanced Microcomputer Systems and originally released to arcades in 1983. The PSN release of this PS3 title is available now in the NA store for $9.99. The HD port was developed by Digital Leisure. I played the game for about two hours before writing this review. I died more times than I care to admit.

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