Dragon's Lair HD review

A gaming landmark gets totally remastered - for a price

GamesRadar+ Verdict


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    DL has never

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    ever looked better

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    No installation hassles

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    Watching it as a movie


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    Still impossibly hard

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    That steep $50 price tag

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    Where's the prototype footage?

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If you're going to remaster Bambi and Dumbo, why not Dirk the Daring? The animated hero of 1983's arcade smash Dragon's Lair was created by ex-Disney animator Don Bluth, and over the years, he's gotten a bit fuzzy. (Dirk has, anyway; we can't speak for Don.) So, it's back to the vaults for a year of restoration from the original Technicolor negative, and the result is the extremely pretty, mega-nostalgic Dragon's Lair HD.

Dragon's Lair was the first arcade game that let you play a cartoon; its hand-drawn scenes played off a laserdisc hidden within the cabinet. Leading Dirk the Daring on his quest to save Princess Daphne from the enormous dragon was a matter of trial and error. If your joystick moves and sword strikes matched the predetermined pattern, you'd survive and see the entire 20-minute adventure play out in 15-second chunks. More often, you'd be out 50 cents in roughly as many seconds.

Showing every bit of its 1983 heritage, the "make the right choice or you're dead" gameplay is still frustratingly hard. Many times you'll enter a room with no clue what to do and die almost instantly as a monster attacks without warning or a pathway crumbles beneath your feet. It's simply not fun unless you know exactly what to do as soon as you find yourself in each specific scene. If the original arcade timing is too tough, there's an Easy mode, but you're still likely to wonder what you were supposed to do to defeat the Lizard King or exactly which way to leap when the stone floor disintegrated.

More info

DescriptionIf you're expecting modern gameplay, Dragon's Lair HD won't be worth your time - but as an animated artifact, this coin-op classic has truly never looked better.
Platform"PC","Xbox 360"
US censor rating"Everyone","Everyone"
UK censor rating"",""
Release date1 January 1970 (US), 1 January 1970 (UK)