Growing up as a nipper I would often go on family trips to Blackpool with my family. Endless hours were spent on 20p games such as Outrun or Double Dragon. Amongst the dark and smoke filled arcades were a chosen few machines that cost £1 and never reduced – that hydraulic flight sim game was one, Dragon’s Lair another. Its outrageously clean graphics and expensive laserdisc technology meant that Don Bluth’s opus would remain a shiny pound coin for years. Now the game is on XBLA, with added Kinect capabilities – all for the low low cost of 800 Microsoft Points.
Cheese ages well, so does a fine wine; Dragon’s Lair does not. As soon as you boot the game up you begin to worry, the menu is a little naively programmed. The game offers you the chance to play with the controller or Kinect, whether you want to play easy or hard, and whether you want the arcade experience or the laserdisc experience. Sounds like plenty of options? Not really, as you can discount many of them after a few minutes as being quite similar. The game is essentially a giant FMV; you follow a Knight called Dirk The Daring as he descends deeper into a Dragon’s Lair. Each room has a series of dangers, avoid them to survive.
That’s easier said than done, because Dragon’s Lair XBLA is a tricky title to play fluidly without dying. On Easy you are prompted when to press, but the icons often fade into the background, you will be seeing a lot of the death screen – at least continues no longer cost £1. On Hard, matters are even worse as you have to experiment and work out what to do. The game becomes like one giant game of ‘Simon Says’, remembering the entire game is the only way to succeed. This was passable back in 1983, but in today’s world of handholding game experiences, it can be very frustrating. Strangely, although the game kills you so often, the infinite lives mean that you can complete the game easily in around 10 minutes.