Join Dirk the Daring in an adventure full of danger in the three dimensional update to the arcade classic Dragon's Lair.
Back when arcades games were a quarter, a new game was released that featured a cartoon instead of sprites. When I first saw Dragon's Lair, I thought it was the future of gaming. How could something as beautiful as a Don Bluth cartoon retain all its beauty in the form of a videogame when all we've been playing was pixels upon pixels? It blew my mind. And then I played it.
First of all, it was the first arcade game I saw going for 50 cents a play. Then I could barely afford playing the quarter games, but I had to try Dragon's Lair at least once. I tried it twice. The first time I played it I didn't really know what was going on. It was like paying 50 cents to watch a cartoon and every so often I needed to push the joystick or button. I may have gone a little further the second time, but the game was just too damn hard. That was basically all there was to it. Suffice it to say, I was disappointed and I never went back to Dragon's Lair. I may have been given a bad first impression, but today we see a new version of Dragon's Lair that's a lot closer to the fully interactive cartoon I thought I first saw in that arcade so many years ago.
The first thing you'll notice about Dragon's Lair 3D is the cartoon-looking characters running around in real time 3D environments. This is what I wanted way back when, and now we'll all have it. The visuals are beautiful, wonderfully combining cell-shaded characters (ala Dreamcast's Jet Grind Radio) and gorgeous environments. Character animation is as smooth as a Don Bluth classic-it's a technical wonder that suits this game perfectly. Dirk's clumsiness is still intact, only this time you have complete control of his actions. The way Dirk runs, jumps, and swings his sword all point to features of a typical bungling hero.
While the game may provide a new experience, what remains familiar are the plot and pacing of the game. What we can expect in terms of plot is a retelling of the original Dragon's Lair. Gamers will come across the same parts from the original, fully realized in 3D, while encountering new environments and challenges. Enemies from the original will also make an appearance along with new monsters, almost 30 in all.
The sound effects are also faithful to the original and help bring the whole "living cartoon" experience to life. Dirk's signature grunts and groans are still there, along with other atmospheric sound effects like roaring flames, sword clangs, and all sorts of monster racket. Sound effects are important in animated features-they helped immerse players in arcade game years ago and they will do it again for Dragon's Lair 3D.
Gameplay remains primarily untouched as well. Developers at Dragonstone Software say the same fast-paced action of the original will be found in Dragon's Lair 3D. Although gamers will find many of the same adventure elements in this game as in others, like power-ups, different weapons, and lots of exploration, Dragonstone is incorporating some components from the arcade game, adding some new aspects to the third-person adventure genre. Puzzles will be handled with an arcade mentality, meaning they won't be too challenging to solve, but they'll require quick reflexes and there will be many of them.
More than just rekindling nostalgia, Dragon's Lair 3D looks to breathe new life in a world of adventure filled with the likes of Lara Croft and others like her. While details regarding the Xbox version aren't finalized yet, the game certainly looks fantastic, but will Dirk break through the crowded third person adventure market? Only time will tell, but fans have been waiting to be taken back to the world of Dragon's Lair.
Robert M. Zuniga
Wants to see Space Ace 3D on Xbox.
Dargon's Lair 3D Screenshots