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Dragon's Lair Reviewed by Tom Lenting on . Rating: 64%
Dragon's Lair
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  • Review Score:

  • B-
Imagine an arcade in 1983. Besides games with simple graphics and accessible gameplay - Pac-Man, Defender, Space Invaders, Donkey Kong - there's a cabinet with a game that looks like a full-blown animated cartoon. That game is Dragon's Lair! Most gamers at the time were so impressed with the looks of the game the shallow gameplay of this first laserdisc game didn't bother them too much. Unfortunately, the first time I saw this game must have been the Mac or DOS edition. Those versions screwed up the most important part of the game: they had graphics that looked like the game was redone in MacPaint or Microsoft Paint.

After that, I long forgot about Dragon's Lair, until I decided to give the CD-i version a try. I didn't expect much of it, since I always found it hard to appreciate the "gameplay" aspect of laserdic games in general. But to my surprise I enjoyed this game more than I thought beforehand.

Dragon's Lair (CD-i)

In Dragon's Lair the player controls Dirk, a silly and clumsy knight who has to save a princess who resides in a perilous castle. Since this is a laserdisc game to say "to be in control" is a little bit too much. Rather, it's an interactive movie in which you've to press the right button at the right time to successfully accomplish a scene. It's all just really a matter of trial and error, but somehow it manages to entertain. I found myself retrying it more often than I suspected. The CD-i version of Dragon's Lair looks quite impressive -- very close to the original and much better than the PC/Mac editions. Also the control of this edition is a little more forgiving than in other versions. If you do an action too early you don't die instantly this time.

Of course, nothing is perfect and also the CD-i version of Dragon's Lair has some flaws. Most annoying is that every time Dirk dies (which is very, very often) or when he accomplishes a scene or a sequence of scenes the player has to face a high score screen - which really interrupts the flow of the game. The scores aren't even saved when you turn the game off, making it totally pointless. Besides that this game is almost impossible to finish. You only get three lives and no continues. And since you'll die at least once in every scene you face, advancing in the game is very hard. Furthermore, in this edition of Dragon's Lair the scenes occur at random. Some critics say this is good since "you'll see every scene of the game". But since the gameplay is totally based on memory and trial & error the random occurrence of scenes also makes it a lot harder. It'd a lot easier to remember what to do when all scenes would always occur in the same sequence.

Overall, this CD-i edition is a pretty decent version of Dragon's Lair, though it is by no means perfect. The gameplay is very shallow, but to my surprise I enjoyed it more than I thought. If you don't mind trial & error based gameplay and have unlimited patience you may even call this game a classic. But that's a leap too far for me ...
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