Dragon's Lair Review
Posted by Ken Barnes
Cut! Take 843. Action!
If this were a website focusing on any other part of gaming, it would be hard to know what to write about a game that’s been released for 66 other formats since its inaugural unveiling to the public in arcade form back in 1983. But, with the addition of Kinect support to this Xbox Live Arcade version of Don Bluth’s groundbreaking Dragon’s Lair, we have a starting point.
In pretty much all aspects barring control, the Dragon’s Lair you’re getting here is the same as the Dragon’s Lair that was wearing out laserdisc players back in the early 80’s. You play as Dirk the Daring, who is on a quest to save the busty Princess Daphne from the evil dragon, Singe. Essentially, the game is a series of pseudo-interactive cartoon vignettes, where you’re tasked with performing the right action at the right time to move the story along. When Dirk ends up controlling an utterly bonkers flying horse, jumping left or right to avoid pillars will get the job done. If Dirk needs to grab a series of ropes to swing across a fiery pit, simply raising your arm at the right time will help him. However, that’s about the long and the short of it. On the most extreme of the three difficulty levels, missing a move causes Dirk to lose a life. On the middle level though – which is where most will cut their teeth – you can miss two or three and still scrape through.
The speed of movement required to play Dragon’s Lair with Kinect is the real test here. You’ll need to be alert and have your wits about you, as the game doesn’t seem to take into account that you aren’t simply pressing a button on a controller. Quite often, you’ll miss a move because the alert pops up on-screen and disappears well before you’ve had a chance to think about what you’re doing. At times it feels as if you’re playing something like Dance Dance Revolution, but the moves are being presented to you when the game feels like it, rather than them being visible a second or two before you need to use them.
A threadbare co-op mode has been included, where every minute or so the game stops and a prompt advises the second player to ready themselves to continue the story. Admittedly, there isn’t really much that could have been done here, but this feels a bit tacked on.
For 800 Microsoft Points, you’re getting a game that can be completed on the middle difficulty level - by anyone with even a limited amount of skill – in a shade over 10 minutes. On the hardest difficulty level, the limitations of the Kinect implementation make the already tough proposition of beating the game without missing a single move into a positively Herculean task.
Fans of the original will get a kick out of seeing the game again but even if you discount the control issues, there just isn’t enough here for a purchase to be recommended.