games / Reviews

Dragon’s Lair (Xbox Arcade) Review

May 31, 2012 | Posted by Dan Watson

Title: Dragon’s Lair
Developer: Digital Leisure
Players: 1
Kinect Functionality: Optional but included
Genre: Action

Dragon’s Lair is a very special game. This game is so special that it has a place in the United States’ most prestigious museum the Smithsonian. During a time when Pac-Man ruled the arcades, this game debuted and was the first title to be fully animated. Also, this was the first game to truly have a goal with a finish in an arcade. So it has truly been a special piece of gaming history. It has also been ported to almost every available option possible at this point including DVD and Blu-Ray (not sure how you play a game on those devices other than just the arrows maybe?). So finally, it has come to the Xbox 360 and with that, I was given the privilege to review it.

Instead of reviewing this simply on how it ported, I am reviewing the game based as if I was a first time player in this title. The goal of the game is simple, get through the dungeon or Lair and find Princess Daphne who has been captured by the evil dragon. You play the role of Dirk the Daring, a knight who is going to travel through the castle into the lair and save Daphne. This all sounds fairly simple and even looks simple. The game plays as one giant quick time event or cut-scene with button pressing or jumping required. Using the controller is fairly easy to play but hard to succeed. The timing has to be perfect and any distractions are sure to cost you a life. If you are just fractions of a second off, you will die. The controls are fairly reliable. While playing on Kinect, you have to move quick as some of the movements are very quick and do not give you time to re-center yourself. One of the boss fights for example has you jumping left and almost immediately right, but if you are not centered it will not register the jump to the right. The game does give you a little bit more time when using the Kinect compared to using the controller but not enough to make a big difference. If you are looking to break records or high scores, use the controller. If you have weak legs or are worried about hurting yourself stay away from the Kinect. As a personal lesson learned, make sure you stretch ahead of time. Jumping from left to right to forwards and backwards puts a lot of strain on your legs and can lead to injuries.

This game is well-known for its visuals and I would be remiss to leave out the topic of animation. Remember this game is from way back when, it is really impressive. The game visually looks like a Disney Classic movie and has held up pretty well over time. The general idea here that you are playing a long cut-scene gives the ability to show off great graphics that also create challenges for players as you try to enjoy the scenery. One complaint one could make about the game is the extreme repetitiveness of the scenes. It is hard to look past some of the same areas being used three or four times just flipped and having to press the same buttons. With as large of a space that there is in a castle, one has to imagine they could have done more to make the game seem like more than the same scenes being replayed over and over. The sound in the game is pretty good. It isn’t amazing by any means but it has that nostalgia feeling and sound to it. I am happy they didn’t do much to the sound as it really fits into the game pretty well.

The Overall thought on this game is that it is a direct port from the original. The game offers a variety of modes and options that can make the game more or less difficult. There is a home version which allows you to start where you left off if you lose your lives and have to continue. There is also an Arcade version that will make it a bit more difficult because once you hit continue; it will place you in a general random room which will make it difficult to memorize the button combinations. For both modes, there are different difficulty options. If that is not enough of a challenge, you can also turn off the button notifications and try to struggle through the game. I do not recommend doing this on the first few play throughs though.

For the replay factor, it really depends on who you are. The game is very short and repetitive. If you are someone who is looking to put up a high score or better time this game is for you. If you are someone who is just looking for a game to play through once or twice and couldn’t care less about score or time, then skip this game.

My overall opinion is that this game does not warrant a purchase. I feel that it is too short and could have been coupled with the sequel for the price they are offering it for. If you have never played Dragon’s Lair and are interested go ahead and give it a shot. Visually you will be impressed and if you are a competitive person, you may end up playing the game for hours at a time. There isn’t much wrong with the game, just not enough to praise it for either other than historical relevance in the gaming industry.

Graphics7.0Visually looks like you are playing a Disney Cartoon 
Gameplay6.5Simple gameplay that is just a longer version of a quick-time event 
Sound5.0Average sound but it fits the game 
Lasting Appeal3.5If you aren't competitive you won't play this game after one or two go arounds 
Fun Factor 5.0Even on Kinect it isn't that overwhelmingly fun 
Overall5.5   [ Not So Good ]  legend

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Dan Watson
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