Format reviewed: Sega CD/Mega CD
Developer: Don Bluth Studios
Submitted by: Paul Robinson
I thought long and hard about what game to cover on my first review for Retro Gamer. Eventually I decided to go with the mighty Dragon's Lair. It was the game I obssessed most over in the early 90s, and I opted for the Mega CD version over all the others as this really was the peak of the franchise for me. This was the first full version of the game you could play at home (at least the first available on any system I owned) and prior to this, home editions were heavily edited due to limitations of the systems.
The game's story is pretty standard for the time. Brave warrior out to rescue a beautiful princess from the clutches of the forces of evil, portrayed in this case by an evil, sentient Dragon, Singe and his dark minnions.
The game itself was pretty much a Marmite affair. The genre never really got nailed down. Was it an interactive cartoon? An adventure? A puzzler? Whatever the genre, it was clear that it wasn't everyone's cup of tea. In fact, 9/10 people seemed to hate playing it. Most enjoyment was had by people simply watching it though. I was that 1/10 of the people who loved playing it.
The controls were simple. Move the joystick/pad in the correct direction at the right time on each scene to advance in the game. One false move and you died. The death scenes were the most viewed scenes in the entire game, that's a guarantee!
The Mega CD version was all there. The entire arcade story all on one CD. Other formats cut the game down drastically to fit on the system it was being converted to. The Mega CD had it all there. Unfortunately, the graphics weren't the best of the home system versions at the time. The Amiga beat it hands down. The Mega CD's version was grainy and bland to look at. But fortunately, the gameplay was the best of any other version trying to stick to the cartoon style of the game.
People always pointed out the game never had "playability". But that is like saying a platform game had no playability because you hated platform games. People who hated these types of games just seem to be plentiful in number, that's all.
Overall, this game has aged badly. It's one of them games that is probably only worth having to watch the short cartoon story play out without having to actually play the game. But back in the day, I'd have given it 10/10. I have fond memories of it, but will never play it again.