by ReadySoft

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Until the coming of age of the CD-ROM format, fans of 1980's-era Laserdisc arcade games had no choice but to search out their local amusement centers if they wanted to try their hand at classics like Dragon's Lair, Space Ace, Cliffhanger, Astron Belt and Firefox. Unfortunately, by the early 1990's, most of these games had been phased out of all but a handful of arcades in favor of newer machines. Sure, you could play the game on a PC, Amiga or even the Super Nintendo (which was actually nothing more than a crappy side-scroller), but they were no substitute for the real thing. Classic gamers and nostalgists rejoiced when Dragon's Lair made its way to the PC CD-ROM, and subsequent releases for CD-i, 3DO and even the Sega CD were released and met with generally high praise. And now it's finally available on the Jaguar CD!

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As in the Laserdisc Dragon's Lair, you take control of Dirk the Daring, a galliant but goofy medievil knight who searches through the castle in search of Princess Daphne who has been kidnapped by Singe the Dragon. You don't so much "control" the character but rather guide him by telling him what to do in certain places. You have a choice between moving or using your sword, that's it. You're basically locked-in and forced to make decisions that determine the outcome of each sequence.. no complete interactivity with your environment here. The game has 38 to 42 different episodes with over 1,000 life-and-death situations and over 200 different decisions to make. There's a total of 22 minutes of fully animated video, although players who have memorized the movements can complete the adventure in less than ten minutes or so.

Sure, I could go on about how limiting the gameplay is, or how Dragon's Lair offers nothing new after you finish the quest. There are no higher levels of difficulty, and while the sequence of events is randomly selected for each game, the required actions to clear each stage stay the same. But most people familiar with Dragon's Lair -- and other games of its ilk -- don't need a preaching on whether to like the game or not since just about everyone has played the game at some point and can make a decision on his/her own. I'm just here to tell you that Dragon's Lair for the Jaguar CD is a good port and should satisfy players who don't yet have the game for any home system.

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Just about all of the stages, cut-scenes, animations and features found in the coin-op are preserved on this disc. Because of the use of Cinepak compression, however, video quality takes a slight hit. It's not quite on the same level as the CD-i (MPEG), Pentium PC or 3DO versions. Colors seem washed-out in places, and sound gets muffled at times. Given the powerful full-motion video capabilities of the Jaguar CD, however, there was no excuse for this to happen. This version is still superior to the Sega CD version by a mile, however.

Like it or loathe it, let's give Dragon's Lair some credit. It's about as interactive as Myst (meaning not very), but at least it was originally made in 1983 and was fresh and unique when it first debuted at arcades. Not only was it the first animated laserdisc game (Sega's Astron Belt was the first laser disc coin-op), it was also the first video game to look like a movie and be treated like a movie. After all, it was animated by Don Bluth and other animators who used to work for Disney. If you want a piece of history or want to impress your girlfriend, this game is a must.

Title Dragon's Lair
Publisher ReadySoft
System Atari Jaguar CD
Graphics 8
Sound 8
Gameplay 7
Overall 7
Reviewer Keita Iida

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