Review: Dragon’s Lair Blu-ray

Dragon's Lair Blu-rayBack when it hit the arcades in the early 80’s, Dragon’s Lair was probably the most ambitious and innovative game of its time, blowing away arcade-goers with its unprecedented Disney-quality animation that put all the surrounding sprite-based games to shame. Dragon’s Lair, which actually isn’t so much a true videogame but rather an interactive animated short film, still holds quite an influence over the industry to this day, and Digital Leisure seems determined to keep it that way, once again resurrecting the laserdisc classic for a HD-remastered Blu-ray format release.

For those who have never played or heard of it before, Dragon’s Lair is an animated adventure starring Dirk the Daring, a valiant, albeit quite clumsy, knight on a quest to save Princess Daphne from an evil dragon inside a monster-infested, trap-laden castle. Rather than directly controlling Dirk on this perilous quest, however, you watch the adventure unfold like a cartoon animation and interact with key scenes using the Up, Down, Left, Right and Enter (X) buttons of your PS3 controller or Blu-ray remote to dictate the outcome, which either has Dirk narrowly surviving the hazard at hand or meeting his untimely demise in a vast array of death animations.

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It sounds pretty easy, but trust me, it is incredibly challenging, and in this day and age its trial-and-error mechanics will likely become tedious to the mainstream audience hopped up on too much Gears of War and Grand Theft Auto. Again though, Dragon’s Lair is really more of an interactive movie than a game, so to critique its “gameplay” in comparison to modern-day productions would be completely missing the point.Powered by Blu-ray Java technology, this latest release of Dragon’s Lair irons out many of the annoying mid-animation pauses that plagued previous versions, and consequently it runs as smooth as it ever has – though certain scene transitions still seem a bit abrupt and disjointed. Now fully remastered in 1080p HD, Don Bluth’s masterful animations have never looked more stunning. The animations are elegant and fluid, the characters are charming, the colors are vibrant, and now the image quality is super clean and sharp – it truly is a work of art. Dragon’s Lair has never sounded better either thanks to the introduction of 5.1 surround sound for the first time ever!

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Like any DVD-type release, Dragon’s Lair Blu-ray is filled to the brim with bonus features and options that ultimately make this title the collector’s showpiece that it is. The full-length video commentary and creator interviews with Don Bluth, Gary Goldman and Rick Dyer stand out the most for sure, as trio chats about the game all while being floored at how beautiful it now looks in HD. Another excellent extra is a slick Time Capsule video that shows a progression reel of how Dragon’s Lair has changed over its countless platform re-releases, providing a split-screen view of the final scene with side-by-side shots comparing the new HD-quality video to the Amiga, Deluxe Pack PC, 20th Anniversary, Laserdisc and DVD versions – it’s shocking to see how blurry, pixilated and downright ugly Dragon’s Lair used to look. Other features that round out the disc are a watch option for viewing selected scenes or the entire game without having to interact with it, optional scene interaction indicators (and various other play options), and trailers for Dragon’s Lair and the upcoming Blu-ray releases of Dragon’s Lair II: Time Warp and Space Ace.

Taken strictly as a game, Dragon’s Lair is a love it or hate it type of experience, but as an overall form of entertainment there still isn’t anything quite like this on the market. Loaded with special features and gorgeously revamped high definition visuals, Dragon’s Lair Blu-ray is a timeless work of art and a must-have collector’s item for all Blu-ray-equipped gamers. I can’t wait to see how Dragon’s Lair II and Space Ace look in HD next!

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Pros:
+ New HD art is amazing
+ Great bonus features
+ High nostalgia value

Cons:
– Extremely difficult
– A lot of trial and error

Game Info:
Platform: PS3, Blu-ray
Publisher: Digital Leisure
Developer: Digital Leisure
Release Date: 4/9/07
Genre: Interactive Animation
Players: 1

About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!