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Game Reviews
'Dragon's Lair' (HD DVD)
By: Digital Leisure
(HD DVD / ASIN: B000IMUYRO / Rated: NR / $39.95)

First ever High Definition Film Transfer!

Features: The first laserdisc game and the first to use regular cell animation for the graphics you can now experience the stunning visuals of 'Dragon's Lair' in full High Definition on your HD DVD player! Using today's most sophisticated film transfer technology, this smash hit arcade game can now be played in High Definition and fantastic 5.1 surround sound.

In this game, you play Dirk the Daring, a knight who must rescue a princess by exploring a castle filled with deadly dangers which require quick wits and precise timing to overcome.

Spectacular new transfer directly from the original film
Digitally remastered in High Definition - Full HD 1080p Video and Extras
For the first time in dramatic 5.1 surround sound that immerses you in the action
Authentic scene order and a watch feature to view Don Bluth's stunning animation
Frame by frame digital restoration
Full length commentary from the creators!
All new interviews with creators: Don Bluth, Gary Goldman and Rick Dyer

Description: Become Dirk The Daring, a brave but bumbling knight who is out to save Princess Daphne - again! Control Dirk as he fights through Mordroc's castle and its many dangers. New characters combine with advanced cel-shaded graphics for a bigger, better adventure. 'Dragon's Lair' is digitally restored and enhanced with 5.1 Surround Sound and features interviews with original creator Don Bluth, Gary Goldman and Rick Dyer.

Verdict: OK, you should know that I am an Old School gamer thru and thru and grew up with a lot of these Laserdisc games - for better or (now) for worse! Depending on your age, and your memories, you also might recall this game that (basically) ushered in the Laserdisc boom when it was introduced to arcades in 1983. Now released for the first time (first) in a Blu-ray format and now in this exquisite HD DVD format, it once again pushes technological boundaries all these (24) years later.

Iin my opinion, this new HD DVD edition is a huge step up from even the recently-released Blu-Ray version! It transitions very smoothly and looks mighty beautiful on my huge palsma screen at 1080p. In fact, it damn well looks frickin' awesome ... and with all the good nostalgic feelings flooding back screen after screen, well, I don't have to tell you this game is true value for money - especially for us noted Old School gamers, at least!

But, and with all that said, you still have to look at this new version with several perspectives taken into consideration. Actually, to some it may fail as a game, and may be considered entirely skippable! To others (as mentioned above), it draws on significant memories that make it a must-have to older gamers and vintage gaming enthusiasts.

For those that don't know of this classic game, well, 'Dragon's Lair' starts like an animated movie would; the first scene moves your perspective through some sinister looking bushes, to the front gate of a castle. By this point, you still donít realize that youíre playing a game. You watch your character Dirk the Daring approach the gate. Suddenly, the drawbridge breaks! Dirk falls through! But wait, heís hanging on the edge of the collapsed bridge! Dirk is suddenly attacked by some scary looking tentacles - how is he going to survive this?

Well, he doesn't!! You see, if you're not on the ball from the off Dirk dies! So, as you stare open mouthed at the screem - wondering over and over 'Was I supposed to do something?' and 'Was I controlling him at some unnotified point?,' etc. You get another try, of course and this time you get yourself ready to hit the single action button to attack the creature in the moat. But, ... Dirk dies again! 'What am I doing wrong? Iím down to 3 lives already, and havenít even gotten past the first monster!' I hear you gently scream at the screen. Did it help ... well, you try it again and this time you timed the attack right, and are able to proceed to the next scene! Good for you, ... the game is well and truly now on!

And thatís pretty much how the game went for me also! For those in the know, if you remember how this game is supposed to play, there are movement guides so you know what button to press. Although, in some scenes you are guided it is very inconsistent and the occasional beep that is suppose to accompany it does not always happen either. Ah well, can't hvae it all, can we ... or can we?

In wrap, 'Dragon's Lair' HD DVD delivers some crystal clear fun, a heady dose of tongue-in-cheek medieval adventure that made the original arcade games a hit. Holding significant historical value over (perhaps, in all reality) the actual quality of the game itself, the colors were very washed out on the DVD but these found on this new HD DVD version look extremely vibrant in comparison. So, the recently-released Blu-Ray version may be worth buying, but this new HD DVD format is the one to head to the stores for first! Even if you canít stand Laserdisc games! But, then again, that's just my humble, personal opinion, of course.

Reviewed by Tab Walker

'Dragonís Lair' HD DVD Purchase Link