Though he’s undoubtedly died millions of times, Dirk the Daring certainly has lived a long life through the many re-releases of the Dragon’s Lair. The latest reincarnation of the laserdisc-based, Don Bluth-animated arcade game comes in the form of a Blu-Ray disc, playing much the same way as the original.
With the illusion of control, you press the either the Select or directional buttons at precisely the right moment to queue up either successful moves, daring battles or a skin-stripping demise thanks to a giggling Lizard King, slimy lava monsters and googly-eyed purple beasties. You can also play it in the Blu-Ray-friendly PS3 using X button and either the directional pad or the left thumbstick.
DL looks and sounds truly amazing in this HD release, with crystal clear animations that are completely scratch, dust and blur free and 5.1 surround sound thanks to pricey remastering and restorations. This is also the most complete version of the game so far, including the once-excised drawbridge task, all the playable mirrored levels and a couple unplayable clips of scenes that didn’t make it into the game.
To help a little with the DL’s chronically frustrating and often difficult game play, Digital Leisure has included a few visual clues so you can get a better idea of proper timing and correct direction to move. It makes the game a little easier, reducing – but certainly not eliminating - the number of vulgarities that will spew forth from the most polite gamers when being crushed by the self-filling brick wall for the umpteenth time.
When you finally reach maximum pissoffedness with the game you can instead watch all the animations straight through with all the correct and deadly choices. Unfortunately, you cannot watch it sans deaths as on an earlier PC release (which makes for a rather cute 13 minute mini movie).
Also, the disk is a victim early adoption and player compatibly issues, adding extra time between scenes, periodically dropping visual clues during the game and losing some menu background images.
Making this version only slightly more worthwhile, it includes a few short, casually informative interviews and PIP style commentary videos with game creators Don Bluth, Gary Goldman and Rick Dyer who offer a few small yet new insights into the game’s development and future projects.
Although slightly easier to play than some earlier versions, DL is not something you purchase to enjoy playing or you’ll be supremely disappointed. This is instead a nostalgic - albeit pricey - purchase for those who love the memory of loving the game more than the game itself.