Dragon's Lair was supposed to be Don
Bluth's triumphant entry into the world of video games. Gamers at the time
were wowed by its amazing graphics, and the game was a quick quarter sucker.
As gameplay improved and the
not-so-sturdy consoles it was built into broke down, however, the game faded
from memory. Also not helping the cause were less-than-perfect remakes
passed onto other computer systems or consoles. The closest version prior to
Dragon's Lair HD was the DVD version produced by Digital Leisure a few years
reviewed it when the anniversary set came out), but this version was
subject to the speed of a DVD player - gaps often occurred in any DVD player
that paused between button presses.
So, I was worried when Dragon's Lair HD
was put before me. Could it do justice to the original? Or was it another
not-quite-there version? As it turned out, Digital Leisure finally got it
perfect; without actually acquiring and repairing a Dragon's Lair cabinet,
this is the best one can possibly do.
First off, the graphical quality is by
far the best that can be offered. Digital Leisure took the original masters
for the game, and scanned them into digital format as high quality as they
could go. The quality? Well, I couldn't take a screenshot to do it justice.
It'd be far better for you to watch
their available videos, and see it for yourself. They did likewise with
the original audio tracks, remixing them into a 5.1 format that most
computer speakers will render in a superb fashion.
The inclusion of a well-meant, but
slightly image-cropping, set of three visual aspects (4:3, anamorphic,
widescreen) is something I could quibble with, but ultimately that's the
choice of the gamer, and I can see where those would be well worth it for
someone with, say, a 23" widescreen LCD or similar screen.
The real test for a Dragon's Lair game,
and where previous iterations have always fallen short, is the gameplay. Not
that Dirk's reactions are instantaneous, but previous versions always either
sacrificed visual quality, or introduced annoying pauses between the scenes
of the game when a button was pressed (seeking for the right sector). If
you've got a fast enough DVD-rom, then Dragon's Lair HD eliminates these
entirely, but if not, Digital Leisure thoughtfully included the option to
copy all the game's content (warning! This will make small hard drives
scream for mercy as they run out of space) onto a hard drive for gameplay.
But ahh, such bliss it is. To finally
have a copy of Dragon's Lair, to hear of Dirk's great quest, and watch his
skeleton crumble to dust knowing that only my ineptitude, and not the
confusion of a less-than-perfect game version, put him there. My only hope
is that Dragon's Lair 2 and Space Ace might see the same treatment sometime
For any fans of Dragon's Lair, this is a
must-have, even if you've already got earlier versions. For those who aren't
fans yet? You very well may be after playing this version.