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Reviewed: Dragon's Lair HD
Producer: Digital Leisure
Required System:  PC
Overall Rating:
Author: Michael Ahlf
Date: October 15th, 2006


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 ago (I 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 soon.

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.

Added:  Monday, October 23, 2006
Reviewer:  Michael Ahlf
Page: 1/2

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