Dragon’s Lair Review

The original QTE (Quick Time Event) game finally hits the AppStore. But is it a faithful re-release or a mobile mess?
Back in the 80′s, video games were usually judged, at least by kids, by how good their graphics were. Any game met by cries of “it looks just like a cartoon!” ensured it’s success. Well, Dragon’s Lair is one such game where that completely applies. Not only does it look like a cartoon, it is one!

I remember sinking tons of coinage into this game in the arcades when I was a wee lad. I will admit that I was a naive graphics whore, for standing next to Dragon’s Lair was BattleZone, a far superior game in terms of gameplay, but graphically it’s wireframe vectors looked like a child’s finger painting next to the Mona Lisa.

833414_3You play as Dirk the Daring, a lumbering oaf of a knight, and as most knights you are gullible enough to partake in a quest to save a fairytale princess… that tiresome of creatures that are almost completely responsible for the multiple deaths of many a video game hero.

Dragon’s Lair is gameplay at it’s most basic. Random cartoon film sequences flash up on screen, and at the required time you must hit the relevant buttons or joystick direction in order for that sequence to continue you on through the narrative. Fail and you will be met by a comically gruesome death sequence.

These sequences will see you darting through a bat filled cave, or navigate a series of underground rivers in a  boat while avoiding whirlpools. Some are as simple as unleashing your sword with one button press to decapitate a giant snake, others will see you manically jumping left-to-right, or forward-and-back with the joystick while avoiding electrical currents from a jolly black knight (my favourite!).

So, in answer to the opening question… yes the game is a faithful re-release! Lovingly capturing the sights and sounds of the original in a pocketable package. The game includes two modes, ‘home’ and ‘arcade’, home is based on the recent DVD, and BluRay releases which require you to complete each sequence of the game in order. Replaying each sequence over and over until you get it right. The other option, and the best in my opinion, is Arcade mode, which randomly plays a new sequence should you fail another. You’ll eventually be required to complete any sequences you failed, before you can reach the end and rescue the princess, but it’s a good way to keep things fresh, and not like groundhog day with you cursing the moment you set eyes on that mechanical hover horse!

833414_4One annoying issue (annoying being a massive understatement) is the omission of an in-game save, or at least a ‘continue from where you left off’ option. I can understand that the original game didn’t allow this, but on a phone it’s incredibly annoying to be interrupted by a text from your wife, just as you are moments away from the rolling credits! But I guess that serves me right for not putting my phone into Airplane mode!

Dragons Lair, like the Space Ace release on iPhone before it (wrong order in my opinion), is hard to score. For fans of the original who have the need for a pocketable version to have with them at all times, it’s great. But for everyone else it might just come across as a “So what game” and not the historical masterpiece it is meant to be.

So, if you are a fan of these classic QTE games and love Don Bluth cartoons then it doesn’t really matter what score this gets, so stop reading and go get it… as for you this is a 5 star game…

… For everyone else it’s a 3.5

Dragon’s Lair is out now for $4.99

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