Dragon’s Lair

If you’ve never seen a Laserdisc, it kind of looked like a giant CD. And since folks had some kind of fascination with putting games on CDs that consisted of nothing but video clips, it only made sense that they could also use the Laserdiscs to make video games that were also made by stringing together video clips.

But why stop at boring regular live-action footage when you can have cartoons!

Dragon’s Lair is a fully cartoon-animated game that features you, not really playing as, but more like directing Dirk the Daring on his quest to rescue princess Daphne. But, it’s a little bit different from any game that I’ve really played before of since. You pretty well just kind of sit there and watch the movie unfold. Occasionally a glowing spot will pop up on the screen or Dirk’s sword will glow. This is your cue to move the joystick in the same direction that you saw the glow, or if his sword lit up, hit the ’sword’ button. If you do the move with the correct timing, then the movie continues, but if you get it wrong (and the timing window is ridiculously small), then you lose a life in a comically tragic fashion.

I would only play this game one time at my local arcade, and that wouldn’t happen until several years after it had left most other arcades in the country. It was only there for about a week before it disappeared again, so it kind of makes me think that the game was taken back to the owner’s personal collection.

But the time that I was there and was able to play it, I had a degree of fun with it… until the windows to input the actions based on the cues came too fast for me to react to them. Which meant that I’d have to, essentially, memorize the game if I wanted to succeed, and that wouldn’t be too big of an issue for me, but the game disappeared before I got the chance, so I guess I’ll never know how good I might have gotten at it.

But, in my brief stint in the video game industry I was co-workers with the guy that programmed the game. And that’s just about as good as mastering the game would have been. At least, that’s what I’m going to keep telling myself.

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