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Dragon's Lair

Yesterday, Dragon’s Lair was released for the Xbox 360 console via the Arcade Marketplace. As you may or may not know, the game has been around for quite some time, and you can easily find the entire roughly thirteen minute adventure frame by frame on Youtube thanks to walkthrough guides. For me, this brings back plenty of fond and equally as frustrating memories. Every Friday night I’d go to the arcade, and chuck a couple bucks into the local Dragon’s Lair or similar Don Bluth cabinet to try my luck, and 3 minutes later have spent half my allowance since it lacked the guide button option and I had no idea what to really do. Unfortunately, my request for a review copy seemed to get lost in transit, but Microsoft Game Studios still came through at the last minute on Thursday with a download code. This saved my evening, especially since what plans I had wound up “sunk.”

If you didn’t get the reference, I originally intended to check out Battleship during it’s midnight screening, but my fiancee couldn’t sleep and I’m not one to go to the movies alone, so instead I stayed in, fully dressed with nowhere to go at 1am, while she slept the night away. This was the same kind of typical thing from back in my youth (the having nowhere to go part), so having Dragon’s Lair made it feel more authentic for the nostalgia. I completed the quest a good three times, the final taking longer after turning off the guide buttons and forgetting half the sequences for just as many scenes, and two more after she came back to the land of the conscious. Each one was honestly about the same experience I had back in my youth. I’m not sure which version of the game this is, as the controls are definitely simplified compared to the PC version, as well as the Laserdisc (from what I can tell through research) and the DVD edition. So, some of the moves I remembered wound up either not working, or killing me early, like during the battle with Singe, pressing down twice then left, only to be killed because I didn’t just hit left in the first place.

The modes of play for this are pretty enjoyable, allowing you to easily memorize the patterns if you’re new, and then making things far more difficult for yourself. You can play with the guide buttons on, or use an arcade monitor style with the guide buttons on the top right. The artwork is great, even at widescreen settings, but the original screen ratio of the cabinet theme does make it look less stretched out. I used that setting later, as watching the visuals with the commands on the screen in the modern version really helped me to remember what to do when I turned them off and upped the difficulty from Easy to Hard. After a good three hours of messing around with it, I realized just how much of the title is actually recycled and mirrored, making the actual game maybe five minutes, and another five going in reverse. Of course, this didn’t help me to want to play it again after the third time through, but I’m a trooper for this site, and I figured I’d work on some achievements while I was at it. I just wish I could remember half the shortcuts I was taught in the arcade long ago to make things easier on both accounts.

Either way, what interested me the most was the Kinect version, as well as the typo in the scrolling text at the bottom of the main menu that reminded me it was option. But, after one time through, I neither was impressed, nor found it at all enjoyable. I only have played Adventure Mode on it right now, which just had the entire thing running from start to finish aside one or two scenes you had to complete in order to go on, such as the falling platform and having to jump on a bridge to escape crashing to the ground. There’s additional moves to it like holding out your left or right hand to grab onto things, you move your arm to represent the sword, and also having to pull out the magical sword from the stone to slay Singe. But, again, I in no way felt like Dirk, or enjoyed a moment of it, which was shown well in the random photos taken during the game play, which seem to always be of me with my arms to my sides, and never during the actual action aside one or two taken towards the end.

So, for now, I have two more modes to go in the Kinect style of gameplay before I can really sit down and review it, but overall it’s the same title, just not as much fun when playing it in full-motion compared to the controller. I’ve put in a good four hours, and only really unlocked a few achievements. I didn’t get the chance to try the co-op Kinect mode, and won’t be able to now until sometime next week, but I’m fine with that honestly. I’m really not looking forward to it since I can’t even begin to see this working well with two people at all considering the problems I had simply as one person with how far I have to jump for it to recognize a direction command, and how limited space the game seems to actually give you compared to other Kinect titles. Although, it seems to have no problem recognizing my fiancee sitting on the couch behind me as the main player even while standing dead center of the sensor itself…

Article based on digital review material provided by Microsoft Game Studios.