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Dragon's Lair

First Impressions and Game Play

Gameplay of "Dragon's Lair" on the LarryBoy Fanatic channel

Normally, I have no problem playing video games. In fact, I remember growing up with CD-roms (ex. the Reader Rabbit CDs), and then I was introduced to a pink Gameboy Advance (which I had shared with my two sisters, even though I was the one that played with that device more than they did). And eventually, as a young adult, I bought games off of Steam, so that I can have games on my laptop computer.

But something about Dragon's Lair had gotten me legitimately interested.

It was sometime in early 2019 when I began noticing gameplay of Dragon's Lair. I remember seeing a Let's Play of Dan and Arin from Game Grumps playing this game, and laughing at their attempts to beat the game.

First Impressions?

To be perfectly fair, I haven't heard of Dragon's Lair, until I had watched a Nostalgia Critic video on it, where animator Don Bluth talked about the concept behind the arcade game. Yeah, this game was a arcade game from the 1980s--you know, that time when it was fun to waste quarters on games at an arcade. Rumor has it that Dragon's Lair was notorious for being a huge literal "waste of money," because the game was so hard that it ate up all your quarters. What made things even more difficult was that the hand-drawn animation made you think that you were watching a movie, distracting you from the gameplay. 

So, what's the story? Well, it's a basic game of the player guiding Dirk the Daring (the game's protagonist) through a trap-and-monster-infested castle, so that he can save a princess that's being held captive by a green dragon. A simple storyline, right?

Now, let's talk about gameplay.

At first, I had found the game to be very complex. Complex in a way that it was very challenging. I see a lot of these YouTubers like Game Grumps playing this game and going through emotions, because of the gameplay. You have to react at the right time. You have to press the right button at the right time. And you have to keep in mind any distractions that may occur. For a lot of people, I can see that being a challenge, especially back in the day when you would spend coins on it as an arcade game.

But after watching the videos and doing research, I learned that the game comes in different formats, consoles, etc. And eventually, I found it on Steam, and you can play it on your PC.

Okay. After explaining all this to you, you can definitely tell that this game has a bit of a fanbase.

Gameplay

So, come June 2019, I had finally decided to buy the game on Steam and try it out. (Funny enough, that month was my birthday, and I decided to treat myself with this game--live a little.)

Right away, I was able to figure out the controls. No, really. (Now, remember, this is the PC version of Dragon's Lair I'll be talking about.) W A S D acts as your control, and the space bar is for your sword.

Now, it gives you the option of either Easy Mode or Hard Mode (where you have to react in a faster pace). And there's also Arcade (where it has you start in a new scene whenever Dirk dies) or Home (where you have to pass a scene before moving onto the next one). Once you adjust your settings, you're all set. (By the way, it lets you set how many lives you have in a single game, with the maximum being five lives.) 

The End Result

Mind you, I played this game twice already: the first time was on my birthday, and the second time was for my YouTube channel.

And guess what? I beat the game at both times. I believe I may have gotten no more than two "Game Overs" at each time. Now remember, you have to take into account that no matter what--whether it's on Easy Mode or Hard Mode--you have to react fast and at the right time. So, on Easy Mode, I was second-guessing myself; I kept thinking: Isn't this supposed to be on Easy Mode? Or did I screw up the settings and set it to Hard? But no matter what, at both times that I played, my heart was pounding, and I wanted so badly not to screw this up. My eyes were on the screen the whole time. The animation is nice, but I needed to focus on the task at hand. 

Though, this feeling was new to me. This was a feeling that I wouldn't normally get with other games that I've played in the past. I can play games like Five Nights at Freddy's, and I'm okay, because I know what to expect from it. But with Dragon's Lair, you have no clue what it'll bring you at each stage. I can play things like the Super Mario Bros. games, and I wouldn't get distracted by the scenery. But here, the animation is beautiful to look at, but it can be distracting--either you enjoy the visuals and keep losing, or you ignore the scenery and manage to beat the game. It's a compromise that you got to make.

But despite what people say about this game being hard, it's not that hard, per se.

Conclusion

The reason I was able to beat the game (twice) was because I was that focused. I noticed that my reaction time was better than I thought it was going to be, even though it wasn't 100% accurate.

But with that said, I understand that not everyone has a good reaction time. Not everyone has attention to detail, and I get that. Or maybe it's because I have played a lot of video games in my life, and I'm just that good. (Not to toot my own horn or anything, but why lie about myself?)

So, you might be asking: Have you considered playing the sequel, Dragon's Lair: Time Warp? Well, honestly yes. Even though it's going to be harder, because you'll be looking for treasures while navigating Dirk in various scenes (this is easier said than done), well... I haven't passed up a challenge yet.