Review - Dragon's Lair 3D (Xbox)

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Jeff_S, Dec 28, 2002.

  1. Jeff_S

    Jeff_S Agent

    Aug 27, 2000
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    The original Dragon’s Lair laserdisc game burst onto the arcade scene in 1983 and took the gaming world by storm. In spite of the relatively simple gameplay, I was one of the many who were enthralled by Don Bluth’s incredible animation of the hapless Dirk the Daring, the beautiful Princess Daphne, and the menacing Singe the Dragon. However, in 2002, video games have evolved far beyond the simple timed directional moves of the joystick and presses of the sword button. What’s an old-school knight to do? Why go 3D, of course!
    Thus Dragonstone’s Dragon’s Lair 3D was born, bringing Dirk and crew not only into the 21 century but into the 3rd dimension as well. Thanks to the power of today’s game consoles, Dragon’s Lair has made a remarkably faithful transition from 2D cel animation to cel-shaded 3D polygons.
    In terms of the story, this is not a sequel to the original Dragon’s Lair but a remake. Just as in the original, Dirk must rescue Princess Daphne from the clutches of Singe the Dragon by making his way through the booby-trapped castle to the dragon’s lair. Is Singe acting alone or are there higher powers at work? I’ll let you discover that for yourself.
    Because of the technological limitations of video game hardware at the time, the original Dragon’s Lair was limited to timed joystick movements and a single button press timed to the onscreen animation streaming off of the laserdisc. Dragon’s Lair 3D suffers from no such constraints. Dirk can now walk, run, jump, crouch, roll, block, and wield his sword (and crossbow!) like a true knight. He can also gain additional abilities via artifacts he collects throughout the game that allow him to glide/hover in mid-air, convert mana into health, see illusions, resist fire, and even envelope his trusty sword in flames. The castle is made up of individual rooms where the objective is to find and, if necessary, unlock the exit. Sounds simple, right? For the most part it is as the difficulty of the puzzles ranges from easy to throw-the-controller-through-the-TV-screen hard (although with perseverance, you should be able to conquer any room assuming your TV and controller are still functional). Unlike some ill-designed games, you will need to utilize all of the character’s moves and abilities to succeed. The gameplay is somewhat reminiscent of Tomb Raider with the Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time’s enemy-targeting system which allows you move Dirk around while always keeping him facing the enemy. While it’s by no means revolutionary, it is definitely a tried and true system that has served many games over the years well.
    It may be a bit much to ask that the 3D polygons come to life like hand-drawn cel animation but for the most part, Dirk looks and moves like, well, Dirk. The animation is fluid whether Dirk is drawing his sword, gliding through the air, or running into a wall. This is one game where the cel-shading doesn’t feel like it was used just to use it, but to actually convey the feeling that you’re playing in a cartoon world. From the characters to the background, you will feel like you’ve left the cushy confines of your room and entered an expansive stone castle. I think the one area where the graphics could have been better is in the facial expressions of Dirk. In the original Dragon’s Lair, it was worth it to lose a life just to see Dirk’s reaction to dying. In Dragon’s Lair 3D, Dirk pretty much carries the same expression throughout the game, dead or alive. The game supports hi-def resolutions up to 1080i. Unfortunately, I cannot comment on that as my system only supports 480i (what happened, Santa?!).
    Not only does Dirk 2K2 get to enter the 3rd dimension, he also gets to scream in 5.1 channels! Much like the graphics, the 5.1 audio makes you feel like you’re right there with Dirk and that is a good thing. The extra channels also come in handy for letting you know when someone’s approaching Dirk from behind. The music properly sets the mood to fit what’s happening onscreen.
    I had a great time playing Dragon’s Lair 3D. Being a lifelong fan of the original game (and all other laserdisc-based games like Dragon’s Lair 2: Time Warp, Space Ace, Cliffhanger, etc.) and a cartoon nut, I found the game to be a faithful update of an old classic. Having said that, the game is rather short—the in-game’s clock was only at a little over four hours when I finished it (probably 8-10 hours real-time). Because of this, I would rate this as a DEFINITE RENTAL.
  2. James Zos

    James Zos Supporting Actor

    Jan 7, 2002
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    Nice review.
  3. Barry Woodward

    Barry Woodward Second Unit

    Jun 22, 2002
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    The original Dragon's Lair games provided less than a half hour of gameplay after you memorized all the moves so 8-10 hours of gameplay for this version is a considerable improvement. This is definitely a buy for me though I'm thinking of buying it for the Gamecube.

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