Saturday, July 16, 2011

Arcade Memories - Dragon's Lair

Its Sunday & back in 1984 I'd be heading to the local arcade to play this game in the morning around 11:00 am & then table gaming in the afternoon with my friends. This sucker cost me at the time 50 cents to play & I went through a bag of quarters. The reason that this game is appearing on this blog is because I couldn't find a decent video of Space Ace another effort by the  Don Bluth Studios, Cinematronics, and Advanced Microcomputer Systems (later renamed RDI Video Systems). 
The thing that stands out in my mind is voice actor: Michael Rye's narration :Dragon's Lair: The fantasy adventure where you become a valiant knight, on a quest to rescue the fair princess from the clutches of an evil dragon. You control the actions of a daring adventurer, finding his way through the castle of a dark wizard, who has enchanted it with treacherous monsters and obstacles. In the mysterious caverns below the castle, your odyssey continues against the awesome forces that oppose your efforts to reach the Dragon's Lair. Lead on, adventurer. Your quest awaits!"
The game was funny,clever & hard. To say that it didn't have an effect on my mega dungeon design is really me lying. The thing was if you hesitated then you died in the game. The animation was like nothing out at the time & was sort of like a Disney cartoon come to life. The scenes were lust, cool, & packed with lots of details.
There were so many sequences that I borrowed for my AD&D game of the time its not even funny. The game had lines stretching around the corner when it first came out. It was more of an interactive cartoon then a game.
This bad boy took out quite a few groups of players during the summer of 84  
Everything from trick floors to tentacles, snakes, collapsing floors and ceilings, ghosts, goblins, monsters and demons are all waiting to thwart Dirks rescue of his love, Princess Daphne. All the while, the player has 3 lives and a prayer to make it through 25+ differents scenarios and a long-winded drawn out battle with Singe himself.
Most modern players of games are not going to be thrilled with the way this game plays but this article isn't really about that. The fact is that this was the vehicle that made Disney kick start its butt into motion for what has been termed the Disney_Renaissance
 The man responsible is none other then veteran  animator  Don_Bluth
He's the power behind the throne for more then a few things that players of  Dungeons & Dragons have seen growing up. Two films come to mind -Sleeping Beauty & The Sword In The Stone. He was assistant director on both films but un-credited  on both. Dragon's lair is a cult classic & rumor has it that he's trying to get a film of the arcade hit made.
Dragon's Lair & The OSR 
There are lots of things that can be learned from Dragon's lair & here are a few things I've taken away from the game.

  • Dungeons are truly lethal especially the fun house variety. The Saturday morning plot lines & traps are very cool. 
  • Monsters can be as much a part of a mega dungeon as the rest of the elements & don't always have to have a reason to be there other then their cool. 
  • Dungeons can have a sense of fun & lately this has been missing from a number of adventures. Since when have players & dungeon masters been taking things so seriously 
  • You can screw with players as much as you want as long as its done with a sense of style & fun.
  • Just because a monster looks goofy doesn't mean that its not deadly  
  • Fun house dungeons rock. Fun House dungeons always seemed to me to be mad wizard's pet projects. The sort of thing that this guy would do
The think that  Swords & Wizardry has the best rules set to emulate the style of the mega dungeon presented in Dragon's lair! In the end Dragon's Lair along with Space Ace, & the second Dragon's Lair  are products of their time. The have a retro cult status that dungeon masters can learn a thing or two from when it comes to designing lethal mega dungeons! 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.