Dragon’s Lair [rating: 4/5]
It’s not very often that the music in a game will entice me in but on this occasion it did. After turning the game on for the first time I left my iPod touch on the table while I completed a few chores, before long however the exciting, orchestral, atmospheric music was dragging me back to see what all the excitement was about!
Dragon’s Lair was a ground breaking arcade game back in the 80’s and many hours of teenage boys life’s were lost in the exciting and beautiful world of Dragon’s Lair as they attempted over and over again to rescue the princess and now, yet again, another ‘classic’ has been ported to the iPhone/iPod touch for the old romantics to reminisce over and new players to fall in love with. It seems now that there are an equal numbers of re-makes hitting the App Store as there are new games, anyway, on with the review.
The best way to describe the game is as an interactive graphic novel where, you don’t have direct control over the main protagonist, a knight named Dirk the Daring, but instead influence his movements via the virtual on-screen control pad and action button. It really is that simple, however like a lot of games simple controls do not make for a simple game.
You can play the game in two modes, Home & Arcade. Home mode is the simpler of the two options and includes additional scenes that weren’t available in the original game back in the 80’s while Arcade mode is the original version which will predominately be chosen by those wishing to go back in time and return to their childhoods. The major difference between the two modes though is that in Home mode you will repeat each scene until you successfully complete it while in Arcade mode if you fail a scene you will move onto a new scene before coming back to the failed scene to complete later.
The game launches with Dirk the Daring making his way over the draw-bridge heading into the castle to find the princess ready to defeat anyone and anything that stands in his way. The action starts even before you get into the castle though as you are ambushed by a monster from the moat. Defeating this first monster is nothing that a correctly timed slash of your sword won’t sort out and to do that all you need to do is make sure that you hit the action button as soon as it lights up. Failure to do this we’ll see Dirk the Daring get grabbed by the monster and pulled down into the moat.
Failure or even Dirk’s death is no big deal in Dragon’s Lair though as after a quick cut-scene, where your skeletal body will return to its previous form, you’ll be thrown back into the action to try once again to defeat your foe. It’s this repetitive nature that can become a little annoying, matched equally by the frustration in the pressing of the buttons not being recognized and the subsequent failure of a scene.
The graphics and animation have been beautifully reproduced on the iPhone/iPod touch however you may find that many of the castle rooms, dungeons and caverns go by in a blur as you’ll be too busy concentrating on getting the order and timing of your button presses right to ensure that you don’t have to repeat the process all over again.
As mentioned earlier the atmosphere is enhanced by the music, sound effects and while the game can be a little frustrating you will more than likely find yourself coming back for more to get past a tricky level in your attempts to rescue the princess. Not that this will take very long though, the more proficient gamer will complete the game in under an hour and with no multi-player options or online scoring to add a more competitive edge to the game there will be limited reason to play the game again.
Dragon’s Lair looks great for retro gamers and it will provide an invaluable piece of history that they can carry around in their pocket. However the unresponsive controls can make the game very frustrating and at a cent under $5 I would expect the game to have more than an hours worth of game play.
- Looks great
- Sounds wonderful
- Great for retro gamers
The Not So Good
- Unresponsive controls
- Repetitive game play
- Too short
Reviewed By: @CraigWillis