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Reviewed: Dragon's Lair 20th Anniversary Boxed Set
Author: Michael Ahlf       Date: November 19th, 2002
Page: 2

The first thing to do with Dragon's Lair is to compare the graphics, and see how it has advanced over time. Unfortunately, the last time any of my friends had found a working machine was 10 years ago, so I did the next best thing... had EVERYBODY play it. On PC, Xbox, and PS2 just to try them all out. 

The verdict? Graphically, the games are perfectly preserved. Death scenes are still wonderful, victory scenes likewise, and of course the sound is the same way. On a system with surround sound, it's actually better than an arcade machine.

The first Dragon's Lair was originally a random screen generator; as Dirk passed each challenge, he'd reach a new one at random, with the game never ending. The point was to make the game challenging, so that players couldn't just memorize the game's solution. Later editions for PC had the rooms in order, making it possible to solve the game (and get the ending easily). The DVD from Digital Leisure incorporates both versions, plus an option to include (or not) the "deleted" rooms that never made it into the original arcade release.

Dragon's Lair 2 and Space Ace were linear and solvable, so there's no point to an "arcade" mode; instead these two offer players an option to run with a solution file, watching the whole game play itself. It's a pretty neat feature, especially if (a) you just never could beat the latter screens of the game, (b) you want to know how to beat them, or (c) you just want to watch the story without having to concentrate. 

All three DVDs include happy "extras" as well, so that players can see just what went into these immensely hard, beautiful games back when Atari still ruled the console scene. Box shots, old artwork, and merchandise shots are a nice nostalgia trip, and there's even an episode of "Starcade" in which the prize was a Dragon's Lair arcade machine (just to tease all of us who wish we'd been old enough to try for it).

The real question for the games, however, is whether or not the control scheme holds up... and in this, it's hard to say. After playing for an hour or so (each player), the consensus was that DVD's menu system creates two minor problems: hiccups between scenes (the original machines jumped without a hitch; the minor pause DVD menus have is enough to break up sampled audio and video,) and controls that are a bit harder to use, because they have to be hit a bit earlier, dominate. This is where a total console port might improve things, but would force the discs to one console instead of carrying the portability of DVD. Of all three systems, the PC was easiest, followed by Xbox and PS2.

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Added:  Tuesday, November 19, 2002
Reviewer:  Michael Ahlf
Page: 2/3

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