Developer: Digital Leisure
Price: $4.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPad

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★½
Game Controls Rating: ★★★☆☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Overall Rating: ★★★☆☆

Some games hold up over time better than others. Some of the classics like Pac-Man, Galaga, and Super Mario Bros. hold up superbly well even to this day, not just as relics of an era long past. While Dragon’s Lair serves as a relic of its era, when it was a stunningly impressive laserdisc-based arcade game, some relics just shouldn’t be unearthed for consumption by modern people.

Dragon’s Lair HD puts you in ‘control’ of Dirk the Daring, a knight off to save the damsel in distress from an evil dragon in a castle. You don’t so much control Dirk as much as you just tap an on-screen d-pad or attack button when the game prompts you to do so. See, the entire game is comprised of animated sequences that play based on the actions you take in the game. It’s more of an interactive animated movie than a game.

Dragon’s Lair HD is very, very pretty. The game was animated by Don Bluth Studios, and is presented in an HD transfer here on the iPad. The animation is incredibly fluid, and its hand-drawn style looks great in an era where a lot of animation is produced on the cheap. It’s clear why this game attracted such attention back in the day – it’s a joy to just watch; and there is an option to just watch the game as a movie. If you want to actually play the game, you have several options to either play the game exactly like it played originally in the arcade, or the home version of the games with additional and tweaked scenes, and there are options to play with infinite lives or with additional action cues.

The problem with Dragon’s Lair is that it’s very antiquated. Beneath the wonderful animation is a very simplistic Simon Says’-esque game that’s based on quick reactions, memorization, and sometimes just simply guessing until you don’t die…and that is with the exact button directions provided for you. If you turn off these helpers for the 2010 crowd in the options, the game becomes just that much harder. As well, the game is incredibly short even considering how frustratingly repetitive it is. I imagine that with limited lives, beating this game might have taken a small fortune in quarters back in 1983. And frankly, that’s who this app is for – people who want to relive the original game on their iPad. As well, the game has some issues in version 1.0, as you may experience issues with the video freezing, especially if you are on 4.2 already; the solution for now is to hit the Menu button and hit cancel. An update is promised by the developers to fix this issue in the near future, however.

There just isn’t much appeal to Dragon’s Lair HD beyond nostalgia. The actual gameplay is lacking in both depth and length, and while it’s very pretty, there’s not a lot to justify a $4.99 price if you don’t have some sort of previous emotional connection to this game.

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