Dragon's Lair 3D
Game Info
Platform(s)
Xbox
Publisher
Ubi Soft
Developer
Dragonstone
Genre
Adventure
Official Website
ESRB Rating
Mild Violence
 
Grade
The Good

• Strong in Dragon's Lair nostalgia
• Easy to get into

The Bad

• Plain looking graphics
• Overly simple gameplay
• Lots of cheap deaths

 
Grade
D+

In 1983, Don Bluth (whose animation studios have given movie-goers the likes of The Secret of Nimh and An American Tail) brought to the arcades their own interactive animated movie in the form of Dragon's Lair. For more than the cost of a normal game, players were treated to a Don Bluth animated feature in which they had to hit a button in time to avoid the numerous traps. Many a quarter were wasted through this trial and error game that looked far better than anything else in the arcade. Now, 20 years later, players must take Dirk through the trap-filled castle to rescue Daphne once again.

This new version of Dragon's Lair takes all the standard concepts of an action/adventure title and uses them with next to no attempt to create something new and inventive. Dirk has the standard range of abilities, including attacking with his sword or a crossbow, jumping, running and a rolling dodge. With the Y button, players can target an enemy, but this tends to be useful only in rare instances as you'll often just want to run about, hacking at the enemies. Along with the combat is a strong focus on platforming elements. Each room you enter tends to have a switch or series of jumps that the player needs to conquer to move on. From time to time, you'll find items that give Dirk new abilities, like being able to charge up your sword for a powerful attack.

Visually, you can tell that there has been some effort to stuff some serious Dragon's Lair nostalgia into this title. The opening animation feels ripped straight from the original arcade cabinet and every time Dirk dies, you'll be treated to an animated death sequence similar to the original. During gameplay, Dirk, his enemies and various items are cel-shaded to mimic the original animation. While this is a nice effect, the fact that none of the characters are overly detailed really doesn't do much for the game. On top of that, the levels are fairly plain and boring in design and execution. While there are some decent texture maps used, the fact that just about every location is underdetailed and lacks personality.

Audio-wise, there really isn't much here that stands out. While Dirk himself is relegated to grunts and yelps, Daphne's vapid, ditsy blonde voiceovers provide a series of hints that could be helpful if the game wasn't so simple and straightforward. Sound effects are simple, yet functional and the music provides a decent backdrop, but never really stands out.

It has to be said that while trying to capture the nostalgia of the original, Dragonstone seems to forget to add much in the way of innovation. A title like this might have passed ten years ago, but nowadays, there are far better games available. While the gameplay is basic and the path straightforward, there are some minor things that seem to make things not so much frustrating as just plain annoying. Dirk apparently can't grab ropes or ledges while his sword is drawn, so players will have to sheath their weapons if they want to pass through most areas. And since you're often under attack by minions, running around without a weapon drawn can be a dicey proposition. Also, you'll find yourself falling prey to a lot of cheap deaths. Instead of just taking damage from fire or certain trap-based projectiles, you'll often be instantly killed. While players will quickly figure out how to pass these areas, it does prove to be an added annoyance that serves only to lengthen the game artificially.

Except for those who were big fans of the original Dragon's Lair, this title should just be rented or skipped altogether. The simple and uninventive gameplay will grow tiresome quickly for most gamers and even the nostalgia grows old before too long.

- - Vane

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