Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPhone 3GS
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Dragon's Lair is a franchise that many older iPhone users will remember playing in the arcades. It was quite revolutionary in the way it worked, as well as in the way it cost twice as much per credit as most other arcade machines. Personally, despite it's appeal, I soon learned that I was going to be rather poor if I kept popping coins into this one -- it's rather easy to die. So, I jumped at the chance to play Dragon's Lair 2 all these years later on my iPhone.
The big difference in Dragon's Lair is the gameplay. Created by former Disney animator, Don Bluth, who worked on movies such as 101 Dalmations and Sleeping Beauty, it has players watching an interactive animation of sorts. Featuring a classsic Disney style that everybody will recognize, players use a series of well-timed button presses that correspond with the action on screen in order to keep the animation rolling -- thus allowing our hero character, Dirk the Daring, to complete his quest to rescue Princess Daphne from the evil wizard. It's an unusual formula when compared to the more typical idea of taking direct control of a character, but it means we get a visual style that couldn't have been achieved any other way when these games hit the arcades, and would likely be tough to replicate in a real-time manner even by today's standards.
The game plays just like the original, it's as fun and manic as ever -- the great thing, though, is there's no need to keeping pumping money into the device each time Dirk dies (which is a lot). Options are there to play with either 3, 5 or infinite lives, so those wanting to just follow the story are catered for as much as those seeking a real challenge. We also see a 'Director's Cut' make an exclusive iOS appearance, featuring an alternate ending from the arcade version -- so there's even a little something in there to tease Dragon's Lair veterans.
My only complaint with playing Dragon's Lair 2 on the iPhone is that the on-screen buttons take a lot of the focus away from the animation that made the series so great in the first place. A lack of any physical buttons meant I found myself looking at what I was pressing rather than watching Dirk clumsily slay all types of fantastical creatures -- the on-screen buttons, although slightly transparent, still obstruct some of he action that's going on. This is a compromise that doesn't usually bother me in iPhone games, but in this particualr case I felt it really was taking away from the experience. It seems some iTunes reviews of the game have also complained of a bug whilst collecting the treasure that's needed to finish the game; although I was unable to replicate this, I feel it has to be mentioned.
However, these issues certainly don't mean that Dragon's Lair 2: Time Warp isn't worth a look when browsing the app store. Fans of the series will certainly want to check out the Director's Cut addition, while newcomers get to take a look into a type of game that's never been replicated in any manner that can compete with the Dragon's Lair games.