Had you been loitering around arcades back in 1983, you’d have seen an astonishing looking game called Dragon’s Lair. Grabbing some change from the kiosk, you’d immediately rush over to the machine, shovel in all your cash and quickly realise why no one else was playing it… Dragon’s Lair’s incredibly cartoon-like visuals (created by ex-Disney animator Don Bluth) came with a very high price – game-play.
Due to the game using a laser disc instead of the more traditional PCB board, the actual gameplay was incredibly restrictive. Dragon’s Lair consisted of a series of episodes, each of which involved you making a quick decision by pressing the joystick in one of four directions. Make the right choice and you’d watch hero Dirk successfully negotiate his way through a short cartoon; fail and you’d be privy to one of his many different animated death scenes. Sure, you may have been given a fair few lives with which to test out the trial and error game-play, but after seeing Dirk crumble into a pile of bones for what seemed like the hundredth time, you soon realized that Dragon’s Lair was fool’s gold. Still, there were plenty of masochists out there who did enjoy it and, as a result, Dragon’s Lair II: Time Warp was released in 1991. Game-play (if you could really call it that) had made no progress whatsoever and even a new version of the original game – that included several missing screens – entitled Dragon’s Lair: Escape From Singe’s Castle, did very little to hide the sheer hollowness you felt when playing this piece of gaming history. Mind you, I do applaud them for this undeniably technically important break-through for videogames, even though I still haven’t finished it yet!