Interactive movies are only recently becoming a genre that is taken seriously. However, back in 1983 Don Bluth took his animation skills from his time at Disney, and put a hand-drawn animation which could be played like a video game into arcades and the home, thanks to the then new laser disc format. That game was Dragon’s Lair.
Dragon’s Lair wasn’t only innovative in its art though, because of the limitations imposed on it there was very few ways to actually make the animation into a game. So, out of these limitations QTE (quick-time event) gameplay was born. You had to follow the directions and press the right button at the right time to progress or witness a swift death animation.
Despite the name, the Dragon’s Lair Trilogy only contains the two Dragon’s Lair games with the third being Space Ace. All of the games share the same style of gameplay though with only slight differences between them all. All the games are ports of their original arcade versions but there are a couple of different settings that can be changed such as how many lives you have before needing to continue but nothing major.
It’s hard to properly discuss the trilogy as games since there is next to no depth to the actual gameplay outside of going down a couple of different routes. Progressively there was more that got added as you play through the games in release order (Dragon’s Lair, Space Ace, then Dragon’s Lair II) You don’t have the luxury of a deep storyline with branching decisions or multiple other gameplay elements woven in like you’d get with similar games in the current generation. There are leaderboards though so you can at least get replay value out of going for high scores.
If you look to the trilogy for gameplay then it will be hard to find much worth raving about. There is appreciation to be had for the game since at the time there is nothing like it but by today’s standards it simply doesn’t hold up. In terms of animation quality though it is timeless. Everybody knows how high quality the Disney animations of old were, and still are so it’s no surprise that a man that worked on some of those classics produced works of a similar quality.
In a time before even the “Bit Wars” Dragon’s Lair was already miles ahead of everything else in visuals which is why it’s such a standout game. Although not as memorable even the sounds were ahead of their time, offering a wider range of what you’d expect to have found in other games at the time. The smooth, exaggerated animation style synonymous with Disney is how this trilogy captured the attention back in the day and how it continues to hold attention up to today’s releases.
A copy of the game was provided for this review by the developer/publisher