Child of the arcades that I was, I’m sure most people will find it odd to hear me say that, up until about a week ago, I had never experienced Dragon’s Lair beyond secondhand stories. Until, that is, it made its way to XBLA, and my Xbox. I’ve always been somewhat interested in the title due to its Sword-in-the-Stone-esque visual style, but my interest has never been enough to spur any initiative on my behalf. Having played it now, I wish I had played it in the arcades instead.
This is not to say that the game isn’t good or entertaining on XBLA; it simply has some problems born of adapting an older game to a new era of technology that affect the overall entertainment factor of the game and make me wish I could have played it on its original hardware in its heyday. The animation is definitely entertaining, and the Watch Game mode, which allows you to watch the animation of the story from start to nipply finish without playing the game, is a fun way to simply watch the story in a straightforward manner, though it does spoil some of what you’ll encounter in the game if you watch it before playing.
The game can be controlled in two ways: controller or Kinect. The controller functionality is simple, using directional buttons and the A button as an action button. It’s responsive and functional. Kinect is also responsive and functional, but it seems pretty pointless, since all you do is hop or swing your arm every now and then. It’s not a very active, or interactive, experience, and its exclusion would not have been missed. Dragon’s Lair also offers co-op, but it’s not really co-op. Short for “co-operative,” Dragon’s Lair’s co-op does not include any simultaneous co-operation in gameplay. When you die, you can switch players. There’s your co-op.
The game is short, with a single playthrough lucky to hit half an hour. The dynamic path nature of the title does allow for multiple playthroughs, but the end result is always the same, so even these multiple playthroughs fall a bit flat. Additionally, playing the game on current generation technology results in directional prompts appearing on my screen nearly 3 feet apart, horizontally. With how vital quick responses are to this title, the prompts should have been updated to take today’s more common widescreen TVs into account when determining on-screen placement. Additionally, certain prompts become lost in the background because they aren’t designed to stand out. This main issue with functionality became very frustrating in certain areas, until I played through them enough times to simply memorize patterns.
Fans of the original version and the subsequent remakes, or collector completionists, will definitely want to drop the 800MSP for this title. Most people, however, probably aren’t going to get the entertainment value out of it that mega-fans of the property will. The negatives in this case definitely outweigh the positives for people who are not hardcore Dragon’s Lair fans. If it goes on sale, it could be a fun pick-up for people who enjoyed watching The Sword in the Stone and want a quick, dynamic path game that they can pick up and put down in the span of half an hour.
Dynamic path to animated nipples
Directional commands can get hidden on large screen
Kinect could have been left out
Co-op isn't really co-op