Dragon’s Lair II: TImewarp
Developer: Don Bluth Entertainment
Publisher: Digital Leisure
Release Date: 06/02/09
You are Dirk, Dirk the daring. The Dragon’s Lair franchise ate more quarters than anything else in the arcade in its era. I was overjoyed to be able to play the 1080p release of this title. A remastering of a classic arcade game from 1991. What could be better? I’ll tell you what could be better: If it came with Dirk’s magical sword.
It’s just as fun, frustrating, funny, and addictive as you remember it. If you don’t remember it, you’re in for a treat.
Story / Modes
This might be the best sequel story ever. The best thing about this game is that everything is fast and it makes quiet little homages to the first Dragon’s Lair in cool little details. Another great thing is the humor which is what took this game franchise from innovative for its time to awesome and timeless.
After saving Princess Daphne from the clutches of Singe in the first Dragon’s Lair and her saying, “Oh my hero!” you go and pound the bajesus out of her (No hot coffee code available.), producing thirteen children. Since she is a princess and powered by imagination land, she looks none worse for wear. She is so hot that she gets abducted again, by an evil wizard this time, to be used in a dark ritual wedding which will turn her into a monster. Why? Who cares! It’s up to Dirk to save her.
Dirk is strongly motivated to begin his fast paced quest by a rolling pin wielding mother-in-law. The first real big laugh for me was when the moat monster comes out to attack Dirk at Singe’s castle, reminiscent of the first game, it sees Daphne’s mom and hides back under water.
Story Rating: Classic
I was expecting that, like every other time before, replaying of games from nearly twenty years ago would be a horrible disembowelment of my fond memories. I was shocked to find that this was not the case.
This game has aged awesomely. The hand drawn animation and themes are as entertaining and challenging today as they were in the early ’90s.
DBE went through all the original content. They re-imaged everything, and then reprocessed it into super kickass just-as-good-or-better-than-I-remembered quality and put it on a disk.
If you weren’t quite sure how good it was, they included an extra feature that shows the gameplay in a variety of formats from Delux (whatever that was), Amega, Laserdisk, DVD, and Blu-Ray. What I thought after getting over how cool the people were who made this game was, “Oh. No wonder people spent so much money on Laserdisk and giant TVs back in the day. I get it now.”
Graphics Rating: Incredible
In a word: Fantastic.
Since this is a frustration and play through over and over game, you have to really like the soundtrack and effects. You better like them a lot!
With this title, it is no issue. I actually enjoyed the repetitiveness to a degree.
Unless you’re playing the game for over a couple of hours, which is about where my fatigue kicked in for one sitting, it will still make you laugh even the 50th time you die.
Sound Rating: Great
Control and Gameplay
The DVD-style gameplay works great after all these years!
This is a simple game from a simpler time. There is one story and one mode. The randomization from the initial Dragon’s Lair release is gone but replaced with faster and longer gameplay.
There are configurable details in this release that would have been great to have in the arcade. One that I used was the on-screen indicator to show if the game had registered my correct movement or not for the segment. Red was fail and time to die. Green was good and you continue on. Simple, intuitive, and a non-distracting addition.
Of course the game is frustrating and makes you go back to the beginning of the level if you screw up and die, but that’s the point of Dragon’s Lair. It fits well and was coded by OCD people who were used to working on movies. This is a taste for detail lost on most current designers.
This is an accurate representation of the realities of the produced game. A couple of things were lost or unfinished, but the designers speak about their story of producing the game, also in HD, in lengthly interview segments in the disk extras.
Control and Gameplay Rating: Great
This is a game that you’ll never get tired of in small doses. The animation and setting is entertaining. It keeps you coming back for more.
My reaction to being able to put my hands on this game before other people was one of a grade schooler on Christmas morning.
This is a classic that doesn’t age.
Replayability Rating: Incredible
You’re the hero and need to save the princess. She’s not in another castle. She’s right there!
The frustration is tempered by acclimation and pattern memory in this title. With diligence, it can be overcome.
It’s a different strategy for success, but not an impossible one for the diligent. I’ve never been able to get all the way through, but perhaps I will some day.
Balance Rating: Good
Dragon’s Lair is a game title that was both a brilliant idea and a breakthrough technology achievement for its time. So much so that it really hasn’t been attempted in the same way again to my knowledge.
The fervor over the Dragon’s Lair series was so intense that people literally wore the machines out in their maddened efforts to jam money into it.
Dragon’s Lair is a movie game without a movie. The game is the movie. This, based on the interview material on the disk, was a fun recreation instead of a zomg serious production activity. That it was produced in a light hearted way is, I suspect, core to its success.
Originality Rating: Unparalleled
This is one of those games that, while not perfect in every possible way, is very satisfying, fun to play, and fun to watch being played.
Addictiveness Rating: Great
If you liked games when this game came out, this will be an irresistible nostalgia title. After all, it’s remastered and made better than it was before.
Sharing the enjoyment of this title with new school gamers is all the more fun.
Appeal Factor: Great
The extras in this release could not be better. There are interviews with the creators that describe an interesting story about how the game’s project was started, how it stalled, the story of one of the scenes that was lost, functionality and dreams unrealized in its production, and more.
I was completely captivated by the story and the producers. Afterwards, I was a bit saddened that they haven’t made more work in their lives like this.
Miscellaneous Rating: Amazing
Control and Gameplay: Great
Appeal Factor: Great
FINAL SCORE: Incredible Game
Short Attention Span Summary
If you’re not familiar with Dragon’s Lair, you can turn in your Gamer Card on the way out. This release is better than ever before and the extras are really amazing. Spanning decades of gaming, this is recommended to everyone who enjoys fun. No gamer experience is complete without playing Dragon’s Lair.