Dragon's Lair review - Nintendo Entertainment System
Dirk the Daring has a problem. There he was, enjoying the amorous clutches of the gorgeous, curvaceous Princess Daphne, when all of a sudden, the Lizard King arrives and whisks her away to his castle hideaway. Literally caught with his trousers down, Dirk can put up no resistance.
However, after pulling up his special adventuring trousers, Dirk follows the Lizard King's footprints across many miles until he chances upon the evil one's hideaway. All he has to do now is traverse the chambers of the Lizard King's castle, battle its evil denizens and collect all of the gold the reptilian one has left dotted around.
But in this castle of distilled, refined terror, there's yet more in the way of horrific surprises lined up. Using his cunning to the utmost, the Lizard King has hidden Daphne in the chambers of the eponymous dragon's lair - and Dirk must slay the enormous beast to save his lady!
What the Mean Machines staff thought
Dragon's Lair is the gaming equivalent of a beautifully garnished cack sandwich. It looks absolutely delicious on the outside, but once you taste what's inside you feel rather ill. It looks and sounds impressive, with large, superbly animated graphics and some neat tunes. Once you've played it, though, it's true vileness is swiftly revealed. It seems like a platform game at first, but it's not - it's a slow-paced multiple choice trail-and-error game where you have to solve each situation by using critically-timed presses of either the directional pad or the fire buttons. Dirk doesn't move fast enough to escape death if he makes one false move (he moves one slow pace at a time) so you have to remember every single correct step through the entire game and execute each one perfectly to succeed. Because you basically have to do exactly the same thing every time you play, it doesn't take long for this strict routine to become utterly, utterly tedious - especially since progress is made unbelievably frustrating due to the often illogical and stupid combination of moves required to succeed. After a couple of hours I was seething with annoyance and felt like smashing the cartridge to bits! I can see that the programmers have tried to capture the flavour of the 8 year old coin-op, but at the end of the day it's all been a completely futile and pointless exercise. Dragon's Lair was never recognised as being a playable; it was merely a fairly fun semi-interactive cartoon experience whose novelty swiftly wore off. Why didn't the manufacturers make it into a platform game like the Gameboy version? At least that was fun and playable. This thing is simply the most dire console game yet seen in the MEAN MACHINES offices and should be avoided at all costs.
Let me start by saying that I hate this game intensely. Not since the god-awful Shadowgate have I wanted to perform various violent acts to an inanimate object like a Nintendo cartridge. Dragon's Lair is a shambles. It's not the graphics. These are fine, with excellent sprites and some outstanding animation. The sound isn't great, but I've heard far worse issuing forth from the Nintendo. No, what really makes me despise this game is the fact that it's so frustrating to play I was screaming within minutes. The first screen is a case in point. Dirk falls through one-inch holes in the floor (his feet are actually bigger than the holes!) and opens a castle door by shooting a creature in the castle moat (????). Once indoors, things get no better. Progress is almost always rewarded by instant death - getting further into the game is just a case of remembering EXACTLY what to do and when. One false move and Dirk's dead meat. Almost everything that makes me immediately dislike a game is here by the bucketload. In fact, I hated every minute I spent "playing" it.
Have your say about this review
Ryan - 16 Jan 2012, 23:47 GMT
It sucked in the arcade, how could a NES version be any better?
Jaye - 16 Jan 2013, 07:35 GMT
This game really is awful. Rich is right on the money.