Friday, April 29, 2005

Dragon's Lair

Dragon's Lair sits in the Smithsonian Institution along with only two other arcade games: Pong and Pac-Man.

Everybody knows about Pong. Pong was considered to be the first video game. It was a simple paddle game that resembled ping pong. Pac-man was released just a few years later, but was light years ahead of Pong in technology. It is also, most likely, the most popular title in video game history.

Dragon's Lair may not be as famous as the other two, but it is certainly as important. Released in 1983, the game actually played liked an interactive movie, sorta like Mr. Payback.

It was a laser disc player inside a video game cabinet. As the film played, the user would get to certain moments where they could choose what direction Dirk the Daring moved. Choose right and he advances, choose wrong and he dies.

The video in Dragon's Lair was all animated by the legendary Don Bluth. Don Bluth is known for his work on a number of films including An American Tail and because his name is funny.

Say Don Bluth five times fast. Doesn't it sound like you are either someone born without a tongue or Shaquille O'Neal?

The animation was great, beautiful visuals and Dirk the Daring was a good hero. The story was that he was trying to rescue to the beautiful Princess Daphne from Singe the Dragon in a haunted castle.

Before we go any further, let me restate that Daphne was BEAUTIFUL. Really, really hot. She was so hot, that just the tease of getting to see her on the screen made men jam quarter after quarter into the machine. It may be the #1 reason for the success of the game.

The #2 reason for the game's success was idiots who thought the title was Dragon's LIAR. You would often hear them shout at the machine "You lyin' piece of dragon trash. I'm gonna smack you with a shovel. We don't take kindly to liars in these here parts."

Years later a few of these players started a group called "Dragon's Lair Veteran's for Truth".

Along the way he has to face the Lava Monsters, The Lizard King, The Grim Reaper, The Black Knight and more.

A joystick is used to choose Dirk's direction and the button is used to have Dirk swing his sword. Wrong moves cause death to Dirk (usually turning him into a skeleton), but the right decisions move him forward.

After a long, and VERY difficult, series of challenges Dirk gets to the Dragon's Lair where he finds Daphne trapped in a bubble.

At this point users start to expect wacky comedy hijinks involving a pretty girl with a horrible disease that keeps her trapped in a bubble. People expect it to be like that funny like that Disney comedy "Bubble Boy", but instead it's scary like that John Travolta film where he was trapped in a bubble, "Pulp Fiction".

To get Daphne out of the bubble Dirk must kill Singe. If he does, he frees Daphne from the bubble and she jumps into his arms and kisses him. THE END.

If you know all of the correct moves the game takes about 12 minutes to play.

Many attempts have been made over the years to make Dragon's Lair a home game for every system from Gameboy to the PC. Because of the unique game play the game never really translated well.

A few years ago, however, the game was released on DVD. Players used their remotes (or if you have a Playstation 2, your joystick) to operate the game.

The team that made Dragon's Lair had several follow up games, including Space Ace and Dragon's Lair II: Time Warp.

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