Every now and then something special appears something that breaks the norm. Dragon Lair is one such title. Well in 1983 it was. For those (like me) that were too young to remember this, Dragon Lair is a game where you control the characters response to a situation rather than controlling the actual character itself.Â There are 5 buttons to this game, up, down, left, right and sword swipe. The point of the game? Guide Dirk the Daring through a castle, traversing traps in every room, by hitting the correct button at precisely the right time all to save Princess Daphne.
Now some 20 years later the game has been ported to HD to be enjoyed by fans in 1080p and Dolby 5.1 surround sound. My initial impression of the game (being a non-fan) was pure frustration. I couldn’t fathom what was happening. After reading the leaflet that comes with the game, I understood the concept of the game and made it to the second room. Thereafter I was presented with quirky death scenes after death scenes ranging from not arming yourself with your sword in time to fend of a snake that squashes you to death or having bats attach itself to your face. The game is difficult, but addictive. If I was lucky enough to have played this on an arcade machine, I would be pumping this game full of coins. The only thing that makes this game difficult is that you have very little time to make a choice. When its time to issue Dirk with a command, a yellow square appears on the screen, it’s at this point that the player has to hit the correct button. You hit the wrong one, Dirk dies. The rooms range from dodging rolling balls, avoiding spilled magic potions, snakes, spiders, river rafting and falling platforms to name a few. The key is to remember your action that led to your death and eliminating that action when you re-enter the room.
This is obviously a game for Dragon Lair fans, all it is, is a direct port of the old arcade hit. I would’ve thought that the makers would try and aim for a bigger fan base by doing something different.
Overall, it’s graphically good, very good. The sound is also crisp and having it in 5.1 surround was an excellent addition. Gameplay is still the same as the arcade which could be viewed as positive and negative depending on your viewpoint.
Everything I’ve seen in HD has impressed me and this is no different. However I’ve only had the pleasure of playing this at 720p and not 1080p. So this score might very well be boosted. Its visually crisp and vibrant even at 720p I was amazed.Â I was expecting it to be a little washed out to be honest as re-mastering 80’s material isn’t anything visually special. The colours are clear and distinct exactly what you’d expect from HD.
Having a game presented in anything less than 5.1 surround sound is an insult. Playing Dragon Lair on HD didn’t stand out to me as I wasn’t a fan of the original and playing it in 5.1 was ‘normal’ to me but fans will definitely see the benefit of this over playing it on an arcade machine.
Innovative? yes. It might’ve been fun in the 80’s on a coin swallowing arcade machine but now it’s on a format that doesn’t require coins hence the gameplay and the approach needs to change. It’s frustratingly difficult to play and you are going to be at your wits end at times. However it is addictive even for a newbie to the game like me.
This score is not based as an average but an overall feel of the game taking everything into consideration. I don’t feel it’s fair to a game to rate sound, visuals, gameplay etc on equal ground.Â Yes it looks great, yes it sounds good and yes it’s difficult (if that’s what you’re looking for). It’s difficult for me to give this a score that suits fans and newbie’s to Dirk the Daring as this is nothing new, it’s a direct port of an 80’s game. For fans, this is exactly what you played back in the good old days in the arcade shops. If you loved it then, you’ll love it now. Newbie’s, you are going to be frustrated getting any lasting fun out of this title.
Review kindly done by Veeash Lala (QuiXilver ZA)
Last Updated: September 13, 2007