Dragon's Lair 3D


posted 11/30/2002 by Charlie Sinhaseni
other articles by Charlie Sinhaseni
Platforms: Xbox
It seems that the year 2002 is the year of the remake; we saw a re-invention of some sorts from SEGA who decided to recreate their most storied franchises, Tecmo brought back Rygar from the grave, Nintendo released updates of Metroid, Star Fox and Mario while Konami unleashed Contra upon the gaming masses. Looking at the sales it seems that there is obviously an audience who remembers these storied franchises so what better time to bring back one of the most beloved franchises of all time, Dragon’s Lair?

This 3D remake breaks the mold of the original game and instead of just watching pre-rendered cartoon sequences, you’ll be able to romp freely through the original environments. While this sounds good on paper the truth of the matter is that this remake can’t hold a candle to the original and to be honest, the original is a far better experience than this remake.

In order to replicate the feeling of the original 1983 arcade classic, the designers opted to go for the cell-shaded look that gives the characters that sort of 3D cartoon feel to them. In order to differentiate the players from the environments the levels are rendered in a traditional style, allowing you to distinctly see the separation between the two. While the game generally looks good through and through, you’ll notice more and more faults with the character and graphics design as you play through the game.

The gameplay also has many faults, most of which can be derived from the unserviceable jumping mechanism. You’ll be able to perform only two kinds of jumpzs, a stationary jump and a forward leap. This leads to much more frustration than need be, especially in the game’s numerous jumping puzzles. Fighting is also pretty bad as it seems to be rather incomplete and counterproductive. Thankfully you can basically run around and hack away blindly at your enemies as they are generally pretty inept. Dirk can also tuck and roll, block, scan the world from a first person perspective and utilize a bow. While this update seems kind of nice, it appears to be the anti-thesis of the original game which was quite beautiful because of its simplistic gameplay. This time around you’ll be using nearly every button on the controller and it becomes quite clunky after a little while.

Many 3D platformers have been making advances with their camera systems, tweaking them and making sure to provide the best angle possible for most situations. Unfortunately, the camera system in Dragon’s Lair is one of the worst to date, seemingly always searching to provide you with the worst possible look at each situation.

The same trial and error nature of the original game returns, as do many of the general aspects. This means that Dirk is usually silent and his sidekick, Daphne is the chatty one. Much like the rest of the game, everything feels rather stripped down, including the dialogue and aural effects. The orchestral score feels generic and isn’t really as compelling as the original. The sounds are separated into the 5.1 channels but they aren’t all that impressive. The game also includes support for progressive scan but it doesn’t really make too much of a difference.

There’s not much to like here and the only people this game might appeal to are nostalgists who still have a soft spot in their heart for the nearly 20-year-old original. Otherwise, there just isn’t very much to like here, every aspect seems to have been rushed and although the programmers had nearly 2 decades to perfect the craft, it feels like it was rushed out the door in a matter of months. It’s a little too ambitious and complicated for its own good and the end result isn’t really too pleasing for hardcore fans or casual fans.

A game that is marred by some technical problems, weak combat system and repetitive gameplay. If you're craving some Dragon's Lair action do yourself a favor and stick with the original.

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