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The Thing About Dragon's Lair Trilogy ...
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on November 22, 2010   |   Episode 174 (Show Archive)  

   

I give you Don Bluth ... on acid!
In case you haven't noticed, we're in the middle of the busy holiday season. It's a time when video game companies big and small push as much product out to stores as they can in hopes of drumming up big sales. Every week we're seeing a half dozen major titles, from hotly anticipated sequels (Rock Band 3, Call of Duty: Black Ops) to exciting original IPs (Vanquish). With all these major releases hitting my desk, you can forgive me for missing the biggest release of them all -- Don Bluth Presents Dragon's Lair Trilogy.

The Dragon's Lair franchise comes with a lot of history. At a time when video games were nothing more than blocks and rudimentary ghosts in a maze, Dragon's Lair looked like a big budget animated movie. It was animated by ex-Disney employ Don Bluth, a man who had recently made a name for himself with

Despite what the title may say, I doubt Don Bluth had anything to do with this baffling collection!
The Secret of NIMH. It didn't matter that you weren't really controlling Dirk the Daring; the wow factor was enough to make people take notice and put Cinematronics on the map.

But you already know all of that. You can't go more than five feet without tripping over a Dragon's Lair Blu-ray DVD or hearing somebody romanticize the history of this full-motion video game. And that's why I didn't give this game any thought. I tossed it in the pile knowing that it's yet another Dragon's Lair compilation, the only thing remarkable about it being the system it's for.

But just as I was getting ready to file it away (never to think about it again), I read the title once more -- Don Bluth Presents Dragon's Lair Trilogy. Trilogy? Everybody is familiar with the 1983 original, and I would guess more than a few gamers have at least heard of

Even twenty years later, Daphne is still one gaming's hottest damsels in distress.
Dragon's Lair II: Time Warp. But was there a Dragon's Lair III? Could it be that Destineer has unearthed a forgotten classic? Do I suddenly have a reason to crack open this budget Wii game?

It turns out that there was a Dragon's Lair III released for the Amiga back in 1993. The Curse of Mordread combined some new animation with stuff taken directly out of the first two games. Needless to say, it's an underwhelming game that is easily forgotten. But still, how cool is it to have all three games packaged together for the first time?


So there was something I was going to say about Space Ace, but for some reason I completely forgot!
Before you get too excited, Dragon's Lair III: The Curse of Mordread is not part of Don Bluth Presents Dragon's Lair Trilogy. In fact, there aren't even three Dragon's Lair games in the Dragon's Lair Trilogy. Instead the game comes packaged with Dragon's Lair, Dragon's Lair II: Time Warp and ... Space Ace?

That's right, instead of offering the third Dragon's Lair game, Destineer chose Space Ace. In their defense (and they need one), Space Ace is incredibly

The sad part is, these people aren't cosplayers.
similar to Dragon's Lair. The controls are the same, the animation style is the same and even the characters have similar personalities. And did I mention that they're both old school laserdisc full-motion video games? It's true; Space Ace is an obvious next step when talking about these old Don Bluth games. There's just one teeny tiny problem -- Space Ace isn't a Dragon's Lair game!

It would be one thing for Destineer to offer Space Ace as a cool bonus to round out this solid old school collection, but this game is called

Dragon's Lair didn't work as a crappy 2D sidescrolling platformer!
Dragon's Lair Trilogy. You can't just consider Space Ace the third Dragon's Lair game, especially when there IS a third Dragon's Lair game. That sets a terrible precedence, one that I would hate to catch on. Imagine if SEGA packaged the first two Shenmue games with Yakuza and called it the Shenmue Trilogy. There would be rioting in the streets.

Who knows, maybe Destineer couldn't work out the licensing of The Curse of Mordread. At this point there may be a fight over who owns it and it's not worth the trouble. If that's the case, then maybe it's time to offer up ports of the NES, Super NES and Game Boy recreations. These 2D action games attempted to recreate the world of Dragon's Lair without offering any of that pesky animation.


... And that pretty much goes for this ambitious 3D reboot!
Or better yet, tack on the dismal (but great looking) Dragon's Lair 3D: Return to the Lair. Released in 2002 on just about every popular format of the day, Return to the Lair functions as a 3D sequel to the FMV classic. This time around you actually controlled Dirk, though the feel was hampered by crummy controls and terrible platforming puzzles. It's not a perfect game, but Destineer could have easily gotten away with calling it the third game in the series. I mean, it has the number "3" right in the title.

But that's not what they did; instead they opted to call Space Ace the third Dragon's Lair. But what's the point in fighting it? Perhaps I should just accept this as part of the trilogy and start calling it Dragon's Lair III: Space Ace.
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