Dragon’s Lair takes players on a hand-drawn quest

Dragon’s Lair takes players on a hand-drawn quest
One of the main features of Dragon’s Lair include the numerous ways that Dirk the Daring can be killed for making the wrong decision

by Veronica Lockamy

This issue, we’re going back in time to the golden age of video games.

Big hair and spandex were the height of fashion, children were waking up early on Saturdays to watch He-Man and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. New Kids On The Block was rampaging through middle schools taking no prisoners, and arcade cabinets were more than a fun decoration for your man cave.

Dragon’s Lair was first released in 1983 and created by none other than Don Bluth, director of many 80’s movie classics such as All Dogs Go To Heaven, The Land Before Time, The Secret of NIMH and An American Tail. It certainly has Bluth’s art style all over it. 

I probably sound like a broken record when I come across games with unique graphics, but come on, guys it’s a hand-drawn cartoon that was made into a game. It reminds you so much of a Saturday morning cartoon or animated movie that you will forget that you’re playing a game at least once. I did, at least.

Not only was this the first hand-drawn animated video game paving the way for the likes of Cuphead to come later down the road, but for some reason other games in this style don’t seem to get the hype that Dragon’s Lair and Cuphead did. 

The game is a great example of art and video games being mixed together. 

A wide array of colors is used throughout the different scenes with some being more colorful and others being darker and more foreboding. 

The mechanics are different from most games. Different scenes play randomly as the valiant knight, Dirk the Daring (aka the player) goes to save the beautiful airhead known as Princess Daphne. The controls are also different. You must wait for the scene to play out and choose the direction or action for Dirk to take. Any move aside from the correct one will end in certain death. 

This game is like a 1980’s hand-drawn Dark Souls in terms of difficulty. Bottom line: you will die. But the death scenes are fun, believe it or not. Despite the many hours I played trying to save Daphne while I got ready for this review, I didn’t rage quit once. Several of the death scenes make me laugh every time I see them. 

Don Bluth really nailed down the humor in this game. There’s almost no dialogue aside from Daphne squealing, “save me!” but the many deaths that Dirk suffers are humorous and the screams are pure gold. Play the platform level and listen to Dirk’s scream as the platform begins to fall, and you’ll see what I mean. 

Dragon’s Lair has gone down in the annals of history as one of the greatest video games ever. After nearly four decades of being ported from console to console and now Steam, I think it has earned its title, and I wouldn’t have expected any less from Don Bluth.

I have absolutely no choice on this one. Not only for my love of this unforgettable game but also for my love of its legendary creator, I give this one a 10/10.