It took about twenty years, but I finally beat Dragon’s Lair. That’s twenty years of dying for no reason, guessing moves and general hair-pulling frustration. Dragon’s Lair is not a good game. It breaks just about every rule of good game design. What it does have going for it is beautiful visuals, the novel concept (well, novel for the early eighties) of an interactive cartoon and tons of nostalgia for middle-aged gamers.
The Wii version is, as far as I can tell, identical to the original laser disc version with the added bonus of optional infinite lives, move hints and a special extended cut. The disc also includes the follow-up game Space Ace and the long-delayed sequel Dragon’s Lair II: Timewarp. Both of these follow-ups fix some of the broken mechanics of the original such as moves being more clearly indicated with flashes. Space Ace adds a little variety in choosing your path through the movie and Dragon’s Lair II adds special items which can be grabbed (but which have no apparent effect on the path of the story).
However, there’s not much to make this game appealing to modern gamers. It takes the lamest gameplay mechanic from recent games, the quick-time event, and stretches it out into a giant ball of frustration, repetition and rote memorization. Those of us who grew up in the eighties will enjoy it purely for the nostalgia, and some younger players may get a kick out of just watching the cartoon play out in its entirety without the gaming. Now I want to get a Wii version of favorite laser disc game, Cliffhanger.