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DRAGON'S LAIR ($35) takes me back to my misspent youth, reminding me of how many quarters I sunk into that famous Laserdisc based video game- one which I never got beyond the first few levels. My favorite thing about the DVD version of DRAGON'S LAIR is the fact that the game no longer eats quarters at an alarming rate. For those unfamiliar with the video game incarnation of DRAGON'S LAIR, here's a quick summary of the technology and game play. Back in the days when computer graphics were still in their infancy, Rick Dyer, an innovative game designer decided to marry a traditional animated movie with a video game by utilizing the random access capabilities of a Laserdisc player. For the game, former Disney animator Don Bluth and his team of created the movie exploits of a medieval knight named Dirk The Daring, who had to rescue the beautiful Princess Daphne from an evil dragon. Game play in the arcade involved avoiding the obstacles in the dragon's labyrinthine castle, while trying to locate (and eventually rescue) the beautiful princess. Since DRAGON'S LAIR is basically an interactive movie, the player's choice are limited to making the correct move at the correct time. Anything else, resulted in Dirk The Daring’s untimely death. You can see why DRAGON'S LAIR ate quarters like they were going out of style.

Digital Leisure has done a pretty terrific job of porting this interactive Laserdisc based game over to DVD. The concept of game play for the DVD version of DRAGON'S LAIR remains the same as it was in the arcade, except that instead of the traditional video game controls, the home version utilizes the DVD player’s remote control. With the remote, the player can choose at the appropriate time to movie Dirk up, down, left and right, while the enter key will activate Dirk's sword (when required). Once one gets used to using the remote control, game play is pretty smooth and enjoyable. Video quality is comparable to that of the Laserdisc version of the game (circa 1982), which is still pretty good, but it doesn't approach the phenomenal capabilities of DVD. The image is a bit grainy and the colors appear a tad muted, but for game play DRAGON'S LAIR looks just fine. Digital compression artifacts are slightly noticeable in places, but when one is engrossed with playing the game, staying alive is far more important.

The Dolby Digital 2.0 channel soundtrack doesn't offer the high fidelity sound one associates with DVD, but DRAGON'S LAIR is better sounding on my home system than it was in the arcade. In addition to the game mode, the DVD allows one to watch the entire DRAGON'S LAIR scenario play out from start to finish. When watching DRAGON'S LAIR, one will notices that a number of sequences appear twice, with a mirror image of a previous sequence used to lengthen the playtime of the game. Basically, the mirroring requires that the player repeat the same moves a second time, but only instead of going left, the player would have to move right and vise versa.

The folks at Digital Leisure have also included some supplements on the DRAGON'S LAIR DVD. These extras are comprised of vintage interviews and feature news reports on the DRAGON'S LAIR video game from its release in the early 1980’s. The videotape supplements do show signs of their age, but they are a nice extra feature for the DVD.

DRAGON'S LAIR is still a lot of fun, especially for those of us that remember playing the game in the arcade. The DVD version of DRAGON'S LAIR is about as close as one could come to the original arcade experience without having the original game console deposited in their living room.

Please note: DRAGON'S LAIR is not compatible with Toshiba 2107 & 3107 DVD players.




DVD reviews are Copyright © 2000 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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