A Classic Comes to XBLA [Dragon's Lair Review]

By Jeremy M. Zoss in Reviews
Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 1:00 pm

By my count, there are roughly 70 different versions of the original Dragon's Lair, so asking why the world needs another one is a fair question. The answers, of course, are easy. First off, it's a classic, a true innovator that was unlike anything else when it was released in 1983. It was hugely influential, introducing the video game world to Full-Motion Video (for better or for worse). And finally, the new Xbox Live Arcade version shows that there are still ways to add new features to a game that's been around for decades. 

For those who haven't played one of the various versions of Dragon's Lair, the concept is simple. Dirk the Daring must rescue a curvy princess from an evil dragon. Rather than control Dirk directly, the player must hit button prompts to make him move the proper direction or attack. Hit the prompt correctly and you'll see Dirk complete his task in a gorgeously animated sequence by former Disney animator Don Bluth. Fail to hit it correctly and you'll see an equally gorgeous death scene. 

It's a simple game that shows its arcade roots clearly. Dragon's Lair was a quarter-gobbler in the truest sense, as deaths are frequent and part of the fun. Of course, it's easy to finish here thanks to unlimited continues (which don't diminish the challenge of some particularly frantic scenarios). The game certainly feels old, but a bevy of options let you customize your experience: difficulty setting, scene order, co-op mode and more. The biggest change of all is the addition of Kinect controls. Rather than hit a button, you act out the motion you want Dirk to complete. It's the most fundamental change Dragon's Lair has seen in the course of its life, as it changes a rather passive game to a completely active one. It's also a bit tiring for someone who is old enough to remember the original game, like myself.

Its easy and reductive to use this line, but as it's true I'll allow myself to do so. Dragon's Lair has been released in many, many, many versions, but this is one of the best versions yet. If you want to own a version of a classic, make it this one. 

The Official Verdict: 3 out of 5

This review is based on an Xbox copy of the game provided by the publisher. 

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