Saturday, January 19

Review: Dragon's Lair Trilogy [Nintendo Switch eShop]

I have loads of great memories from the days of my youth, and many of them (perhaps sadly to some) are of the euphoric feeling of going to the arcade. I don’t even want to know how much money I spent in arcades through my years but I can tell you that sound of the dollar changer spitting out quarters is pure magic. As cool as many games were over the years, outside of the fighting game craze I don’t remember many things stopping everything quite like Dragon’s Lair though. Nobody had ever seen anything like it and the notion of essentially playing an animated movie was one that had all eyes glued to it, even passersby that weren’t into games would come in and watch people play. Now, not only can you play this laserdisc classic (unencumbered by the pauses of skipping to the appropriate track) at home, but you’ll have its sequel and my personal favorite, Space Ace, thrown into the mix as well in the form of Dragon’s Lair Trilogy.

Starting with the original you’ll play as Dirk the Daring, on a quest to save the lovely (and a bit inappropriately sexy perhaps) Princess Daphne from an evil dragon. Played out in a randomly-ordered series of scenarios it is the most scattered of the three, never knowing which sequence will be next. Since there are a few quick reaction scenes that can give it an added challenge. Probably the most iconic of the bunch it can be tough but has many fans.

The sequel, Timewarp, is more linear and rather than skipping to another scene when you die you’ll need to keep trying until you execute the series of moves correctly. That makes it a bit easier and harder at the same time, trading predictability for the fact that in the original you could be awful at a specific sequence but still continue forward. For whatever reason this is a unit that I didn’t see nearly as much of compared to the other two and when I did see it for whatever reason it didn’t seem to be as popular. It certainly has a wide variety of crazy locales and challenges though so it always looked like fun.

Then there’s Space Ace, the one of the three I absolutely loved the most. It’s also sequential for the most part, forcing you to memorize a series of moves that you’d need to pull of to proceed, but aside from the initial skill setting (I always went with Cadet, it was tough enough as it was) there’s also essentially branching paths to choose from as well. The majority of the time when your watch begins to flash, giving you the option to power up and turn into Super Dexter, you can take that option (which tends to be both tougher and a bit more fun) or remain as the more wimpy Dexter and make your way through that way. Between Kimmy’s much more forceful personality and Super Dexter’s ego I always loved this game and I can essentially play a significant portion of it back in my head from all of the time I gave it.

For anyone who remembers playing these games in the arcade this is absolutely a worthwhile title to pick up. Not only can you toggle some things like on-screen move prompts (and the iconic beep) on and off but there’s also the option to essentially just let the “movie” play out as well if you’d like. The best feature is no doubt that the video quality is impeccable and the action plays out continuously, though perhaps you may for some reason miss the authenticity of the slight pause between every clip. Throw in some added extras like an interview with Don Bluth and the others behind the original title and this is a terrific celebration of 3 of the most unique games in arcade history.

Score: 8

  • Three absolutely legendary arcade classics that look incredible in one package
  • Optional on-screen move prompts to help you out
  • No pauses!

  • If you’re unfamiliar with the games you may not appreciate their style of gameplay, which is actually quite primitive
  • True to the originals the timing of some moves is just quirky and can be frustrating