While the gameplay may be rather limited and archaic, the graphics are just as pretty as they were over twenty years ago. The high-def transfer really shows up when the visuals are pumped up to their highest level, and the animation is still impressive. After all, one of the animation industry’s leading names created all of the scenes in the game. Still, the distinctly Disney look is an acquired taste. The game’s audio presentation doesn’t fare as well as the visual aspect. The voice acting is minimal, the music is generic and most of the sound cuts back and forth between scenes, for a somewhat choppy audio experience.
In the extras department, Dragon’s Lair HD is rather slim. There is the option to transfer all of the movies to your hard drive, but at highest resolution it takes a rather hefty 7.8 GB. There are setting for faster performance at lower fidelity, and a link to a help website. I would have preferred a help document with the disk; the website could go under at any time.
Probably the best bonus is to watch the game from start to finish, with the option to include Dirk’s comical death scenes. In my opinion this is the best part of the package, as Dragon’s Lair is more of an interactive movie than a game. I would’ve liked some developer interviews or commentary from Don Bluth—I mean, what else is he doing these days?
When you get right down to it Dragon’s Lair HD is a basic port of a true classic, made less entertaining because of its dated nature and a lack of additional material. Old school players of the arcade version will get a nostalgia trip and the HD transfer is sure to warm the hearts of some veteran gamers, but the newer generation will just get frustrated. A clue system would have helped a lot, giving quick directions on what to do next; the cutscenes in RE4 were some of the most thrilling parts of that game, and owe a lot to ancestors like Dragon’s Lair, but they were more satisfying because there was less guesswork. As it stands this port is a novel idea that looks antiquated compared to its successors. Without the depth, control or production value of modern games, Dragon’s Lair is a technical marvel of its day that hasn’t aged very well.
Dragon’s Lair may have been hot stuff back in the arcade days, but only because the novelty of its technology made it look worlds better than its competitors. Now that game tech has taken another direction and advanced a couple decades, this honorable classic is admittedly dated. This sparse port, severely lacking in extras or polish, is a collector’s item at most that may interest the older hardcore but the whippersnappers will be hard pressed to find it engaging.
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