Dragon’s Lair (1983) Arcade Review

Dragon’s Lair was poised to be the game which would revolutionize the videogame industry when it was released in 1983. Gamers were ready to break away from poor graphics and ready to grasp the concept of playing a game that looked like a cartoon with controllable characters. What they got, however, was a big disappointment.

Visually, Dragon’s Lair was breathtaking. Top animators were brought in to make Dirk the Daring look great. New audio and video technology was being used to put the images on the video screen. But, was it a game? A lot of people will tell you that Dragon’s Lair is not a game, that it’s simply a cartoon on a screen in a coin-op console.


Dragon’s Lair offers the video gamer very little control. It is a series of predetermined animation sequences. All the player does is move to the left or right or hit the sword button. Sometimes, the player manages to move or slash at just the right time and goes on to the next scene. Other times, the player misses and Dirk gets killed. Basically, the player waits for a flash of light and then reacts. The rest of the time, he/she might as well be watching television. That’s how little control Dragon’s Lair offers.

Some people will tell you that Dragon’s Lair is a great game simply because of what it tried to do. They’re right, in a sense. Dragon’s Lair did pave the way for more realistic games years after its release, but the Arcade is usually not the best place to try experiments. Games like Pong and Space Invaders, games that were released nearly a decade before Dragon’s Lair, were more engaging and gave players a better game. One can appreciate Dragon’s Lair for what it wanted to be, but it cannot be praised for what it was.

Graphics

The best part of this game are the graphics.

Sound

Good, but sometimes annoying, sound.

Enjoyment

Poor.

Replay Value

Also poor.