Digital Leisure were kind enough to supply me with a review copy of Dragon’s Lair for XBLA, which came out a week or two ago, and you guys were kind enough to vote for Dragon’s Lair as the comic to make this week, so didn’t this all come together nicely!
I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for Dragon’s Lair, not because of the OMG IT’S LIKE A CARTOON factor but the character design of Dirk was always cool. I just liked the way he wasn’t a buff swashbuckling macho bloke but a guy who basically stumbled his way around Singe’s castle almost by accident. It was a neat alternative to the typical video game protagonist, and even the dysmal-to-average home conversions carried that through.
But now we have what is basically the most perfect version of Dragon’s Lair you can get – with crisp video quality, neat presentation and even Kinect support.
Yeah…Kinect support. And oddly enough, it’s not as dumb as it sounds! You’re basically tasked with acting out the actions required in each screen – so instead of pressing left to jump left, you actually jump to the left (and then a step to the right?) and you see Dirk do the action. It’s actually kind of neat. Look, put it this way, I’d rather be using my Kinect for this instead of Dance Central.
There’s even an ‘easy’ mode where little light up icons appear on the screen to explicitly tell you what direction to press next ahead of time, which I have no problem admitting using, and what is effectively a ‘super easy’ mode that is where they make the game look like it’s running through an old arcade monitor and they put the warning icons next to each other in the top right corner of the screen so you don’t even need to move your eyes around the screen to know what you’re supposed to press next. That was neat.
Oh! One thing that bugged me was that it went BEEP! every time you pressed a direction, and the volume of the BEEP! is way louder than the audio of the game, so it gets annoying real quick. You can turn it off in the menus thankfully but it’s on by default, so watch out kids.
Nice little extras, too, such as the ability to watch the game play itself, watch the trailer and even unlock cool little avatar awards which I would totally use if I wasn’t in a life long commitment to my Crackdown 2 avatar items.
So yeah…I actually recommend this if you want a definitive version of it, and I like having at least one definitive version of every important game. I’m glad I own it and if you care about retro games too.
Let’s talk about the home conversions for a minute. Most of them were pretty dreadful. The Amiga version was probably the most visually close to the original until you got to things that were more like ports instead of conversions, but the visual resemblance meant it was on like a half dozen Amiga disks that loaded so slowly it quickly lost any potential reward. The NES version was dog-awful, though it did seem to spawn a sort-of spin-off game with Dirk the Daring and Frankenstein, no idea what that was about. The C64 game was…misguided. Why go through the trouble of redrawing everything so it doesn’t look like the arcade game, but keep the whole linear gameplay? It was kind of nice how the next scene loaded while you were playing the previous one, but that’s about all I can say in its favour.