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Reviewed: Dragon's Lair II: Time Warp
Author: Michael Ahlf       Date: June 17th, 2009
Page: 2

If you saw the previous two reviews - for Dragon's Lair and Space Ace on Blu-Ray - then you know what to expect, gameplay-wise, from this one. The BD-Java menu system is lightning quick, unlike the slight "hiccup" that trying to force the Bluth titles into DVD menuing created, and the result is that with a Blu-Ray remote, or a PS3 joystick, or yes, with an X-Arcade joystick using the PS3 adapter, you can get about as close to the original game's timing as you would ever want. With this, Digital Leisure's programmers have succeeded brilliantly. The only thing missing from the game is the occasional slight "hiccup" between a missed keypress and the death animation (and boy, did the animators have fun drawing those) resulting from the time needed to "skip" to the end of each section where those animations were stored.

Someone obviously spent a lot of extra care making the 1080p film transfer from the original film stock as seamless as possible, too. The screenshots below (courtesy of Digital Leisure) give you some indication of how well it was done; as one member of the testing team put it, "it's almost too good, you can see the imperfections in the original film itself." Redone, he's got it exactly right - put these on an ordinary sized (say, 30" or so) television, they'll look brilliant. Put them on a 50" or bigger screen, and you can see every little detail in the game, an amazing showcase of the fun the outstanding Bluth animators put into the scenes. Ordinarily, I'd crunch these down to Jpeg to save space, but I'm leaving them as originally sent - uncompressed and uncompromising.

A large number of these scenes are head and shoulders above the Dragon's Lair/Space Ace model of a mostly static scene, which makes the transfers all the more impressive and the gameplay immensely more fun to sit back and watch - a mummy scene, the Beethoven "Fantasia-Alike" bit, the Alice in Wonderland part. Also, many of Bluth's animators (not to mention Bluth himself) got their big starts at Disney, so you'll see many recognizable character models popping up if you pay attention.

If that weren't enough, however, DL2's Blu-Ray edition comes with the best set of "extras" I've ever seen. All-new director's interviews with Don Bluth and Gary Goldman, "watch mode" which takes players through all 20 or so minutes of gameplay to see how the story was supposed to unfold, and a director's commentary version to accompany it - not just an audio track, but windowed video of the directors commenting on the game itself.

If you want to have something to show the history of gaming - why these games were fun, and why they inevitably fell out of favor, why the ongoing debate about what are now called "Quicktime Events" in games has become so heated - you will love the DL2 Blu-Ray disc. If you're a fan of Bluth animation, or of the original games just as they were, you owe it to yourself to pick up the set. If you're a gamer at all, or an animation fan, it's worth every penny.

Added:  Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Reviewer:  Michael Ahlf
Page: 2/3

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