| Mild Violence
| The Good
Strong in Dragon's Lair nostalgia
Easy to get into
| The Bad
Plain looking graphics
Overly simple gameplay
Lots of cheap deaths
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
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