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June 20, 2008 8:53 PM   Subscribe

The classic arcade game Dragon's Lair is turning 25 and Don Bluth has a deal for you. For one week only, if you buy a copy of Dragon's Lair for DVD, PC, or Blu-Ray from the online store at DigitialLeisure.com you can have it signed by Don Bluth as well as designer Rick Dyer, and animators Gary Goldman and John Pomeroy. The new cleaned up version looks sweet! I hear it looks really great on Blu-Ray. I can remember drooling over it when I saw it played on the TV show Starcade. There was even a Saturday morning cartoon based on the game. If you spent any time in an arcade during the mid-80's you'll probably recall the attract mode which is one of the most memorable ones in the history of arcade games. I still have it burned into my brain. Need a walkthrough for the game? Well, the website Dragon's Lair Project has that covered.
posted by GavinR (57 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
Make it a signed Laserdisc and he's got a deal.
posted by gc at 8:58 PM on June 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


I remember seeing this in the arcade and thinking "WTF? How'd they make a videogame out of a cartoon? How can you even control the guy?"

I had this image in my head of a Disney animator painstakingly drawing 32 cels per second to match your gameplay.
posted by Avenger at 9:02 PM on June 20, 2008


How can you even control the guy?

I wasted a lot of quarters on this game, and I can assure you, you couldn't.
posted by Dave Faris at 9:03 PM on June 20, 2008 [18 favorites]


Ah, Dragon's Lair. I was fascinated by this game...however, my extreme suckitude meant I never got to rescue Princess Daphne.
posted by never used baby shoes at 9:05 PM on June 20, 2008


Wait, while were at it: does anybody else remember that one fake hologram game with the time traveling cowboy or something? WTF was up with that?
posted by Avenger at 9:05 PM on June 20, 2008 [3 favorites]


I seem to remember having the Amiga version at some point. Lots of disk swapping. Probably ended up having Greatest Warez d00d demos volumes 1 to 25 copied over the top of it.
posted by Artw at 9:07 PM on June 20, 2008


That was a Sega game entitled (aptly enough) Time Traveler...here's a video clip. It was pretty awful.
posted by GavinR at 9:09 PM on June 20, 2008 [4 favorites]


But wait, there's more! Not only do you get the game, you get it autographed by the developers, whom no one has ever heard of. Not only that, we'll send you free previews of failed games that just never made it. And, on top of that, are the funny programming bloopers! All for only 49.95!
posted by Eekacat at 9:16 PM on June 20, 2008 [3 favorites]


Greetings - *Nazi salute* - I am Kyla. Princess of the Galactic Federation....

Jesus, 90's. Whats wrong with you?
posted by Avenger at 9:18 PM on June 20, 2008


whom no one has ever heard of

Oh, I wouldn't go as far as to say that. Bluth was pretty famous for a time as a great old-school animator who notoriously rebelled against Disney Studios, in the stone-age days before Pixar.
posted by Dave Faris at 9:25 PM on June 20, 2008


In 1984 Aladdin's Castle was charging a buck a play for Dragon's Lair. No way was I doing that. That was four rounds of Tempest right there.
posted by sourwookie at 9:35 PM on June 20, 2008 [7 favorites]


I was in second or third grade when this was in my beloved arcades, yet, even at that young age I thought it was total bullshit.
Great post though, seriously, thanks.
posted by Stonestock Relentless at 9:55 PM on June 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


Somehow previewing a BluRay disc on YouTube... loses something.

Like 95% of the pixels.
posted by GuyZero at 9:57 PM on June 20, 2008


I was a complete ace on Dragon's Lair. For that matter, I was an ace on Space Ace as well ("Help! I've been hit!" "By the Infanto-Ray!" "Help Dexter regain his manhood!") Once you knew the moves, you could practically play it by reflex. But I spent more than a few dollars getting to that point.

I still have original cels of Daphne and Kimberly.

Regarding Don Bluth Studios, their best film was The Secret of NIMH, which was pretty good by pre-Pixar standards.
posted by SPrintF at 9:59 PM on June 20, 2008


I was in love with that game. At the time I couldn't steal enough of my dad's quarters to play it!

Simply amazing then, and simply amazing now.

I still love and remember (and still PLAY) Galaga now though. :-)
posted by matty at 9:59 PM on June 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


Too bad I can't shoehorn this into my MAME cabinet.

Unless someone here knows something I don't...
posted by sourwookie at 10:12 PM on June 20, 2008


I remember when our local arcade got Dragon's Lair. There was a line (a line!) of people waiting to play it. I did my girlfriendly duty by standing next to my boyfriend when it was his turn to play. Gosh, I'm old.
posted by amyms at 10:18 PM on June 20, 2008


You could learn the moves if you bought the right magazine. This is the real origin of the up-up-down-down-etc codes (although Pac-Man's patterns might be the real ancestor)
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 10:21 PM on June 20, 2008


Sorry RobotVoodooPower, but Dragon's Lair has absolutely nothing to do with the Konami Code.
posted by GavinR at 10:33 PM on June 20, 2008


Actually, there is a laser-disc arcade emulator floating around, but I bees to lazy to look it up right now. . . so your adventure awaits.

PS--holy cow, I,m apoplectic with nostalgia:

In the fourth grade I was in the Des Moines Community Playhouse production of 'The Music Man'. There was a long interval in which the townsfolk were not on stage, and I started following some older boys to QuikTrip, where I bought candy with change I stole from my parents' dresser, and watched those kids play Dragon's Lair. They were good, but I never saw them finish it. I was thoroughly intimidated by the gameplay, and there was no way I was gonna sacrifice the assured pleasure of sixlets, etc. to play it. I seem to recall we missed an entrance once and got chewed out good by the director. My mother also caught me with the candy and was so nonchalant about it (even though such treats were something a bit taboo in our house) that I broke down and confessed everything. (Like the time I lied and said I had refused the free stockingful of candy given by Santa at the Saturday matinee with my cousins in Storm Lake, and my parents rewarded me by taking me out for ice cream. . .oh, the shame. (Oh, the sweet, sweet sugar.)

Also, my best friend used to play Space Ace (and that other one. . .) at the roller rink during school trips. It cost 50 cents, so I never played. And I never asked a girl to join me for Moonlight Skate. Neither did Josh, who moved away to Plano and briefly reappeared a decade later, having become a Rastafarian and a crewman on a Navy submarine.
posted by flotson at 10:57 PM on June 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


I remember the lines for Dragon's Lair at at Aladdin's Castle. Man that was crazy. Almost as crazy as the lines for Gauntlet. I have a friend who, still to this day, whenever he gets hungry says" Elf needs food!" Great post! Thanks GavinR.
posted by HappyHippo at 11:05 PM on June 20, 2008


Forget the arcade version. The C64 version of Dragon's Lair was one of the hardest games of my childhood.
posted by painquale at 11:47 PM on June 20, 2008


I forgot that I had ever played Dragon's Lair 2 on the C64 until I watched the youtube playthrough and realized that I could anticipate nearly every move.

What a waste of a youth.
posted by painquale at 12:10 AM on June 21, 2008


I got the new blu-ray releases of Dragon's Lair and Space Ace. The transfer is really amazing, it just leaps off the screen. My kids love 'em. Plus, I was finally able to kill that fucking dragon, so I've got that going for me. Without being able to remember many of the moves, it really is quite cool the way they feed you visual cues for what you're supposed to do. However, having infinite quarters means you never get to see the fail-to-reincarnate-because-you're-out-of-lives screen from Dragon's Lair, which is quite a shame.

Man, that sparkly-ass princess sure looks skanky now, though; she's like a floating strip club waitress, all mascara and jutting protuberances.
posted by ulotrichous at 12:14 AM on June 21, 2008


Did anyone's hometown arcade have Cliff Hanger for about half a second in the 80s? Same basic idea. Sooo many lost quarters.
posted by arcanecrowbar at 12:46 AM on June 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


Yeah, the local Alladin's Castle in my home town had Cliff Hanger. Because of that game I was a fan of Lupin III before I even knew what it was!
posted by GavinR at 12:58 AM on June 21, 2008


I hated Dragon's Lair but was hugely addicted to Space Ace (or, as a linked to commenter puts it "Space Ace can totally kick Dirk's ass."). SA at least had scenes in the same order each time. Of course, if you played it on Hard, you never knew which side of the horizontal they would flip a scene.
posted by Sparx at 1:17 AM on June 21, 2008


Too bad I can't shoehorn this into my MAME cabinet.

Unless someone here knows something I don't...


DAPHNE will emulate Laserdisc games, but you need to locate MPEG rips of the laserdiscs and it's a bit difficult to set up. I actually downloaded a bunch of laserdisc games and DAPHNE before I remembered that laserdisc games weren't really all that fun. Unless you invest a lot of time in memorizing everything, you'll repeatedly die without even knowing what you're supposed to do and what killed you.
posted by DecemberBoy at 2:15 AM on June 21, 2008


Hmph. I wasted my quarters on Super Defender.
posted by peewinkle at 4:36 AM on June 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


does anybody else remember that one fake hologram game with the time traveling cowboy or something?

Time Traveler.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 4:39 AM on June 21, 2008


Can you imagine an alternate present where interactive movies are the dominant kind of videogame? I like to remember those kind of games (especially Mad Dog McCree - best acting ever done!), but damn I'm glad in the next 5 minutes I'm gonna open Steam and play some more TF 2 instead of some interactive blockbuster on a 5d0.
Right now I'm actually quite scared of the idea, I still believe that in the nineties we risked that and we were saved just by the greediness and incapacity of everyone involved.
posted by darkripper at 4:50 AM on June 21, 2008


Was Cliffhanger the one where you bobbed up and down on a noose if you died?
posted by stinkycheese at 6:29 AM on June 21, 2008


Cliff Hanger was one of my favorites! Like GavinR, it made me a Lupin III fan before I knew who he was. I got a tremendous sense of deja vu watching Castle of Cagliostro until I realized so many of the scenes in that film were in Cliff Hanger.
posted by MegoSteve at 6:38 AM on June 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


I remember when the first Dragon's Lair machines showed up in the arcade of my local mall and how it seemed to me at the time that it represented the thin edge of the wedge of superficial gloss completely trumping actual game design. Repetitive, unplayable, and joyless for anyone who didn't also fall for those repellent Choose Your Own Adventure books and the other me-too marketing schlock of the era.

Mind you, I was a fanatic for Tempest, Qix, Frenzy, and the completely elusive Quantum, so my bias is probably pretty clear. Give me brightly colored lines, deceptively simple play, room for happy accidents and discoveries any day.
posted by sonascope at 7:32 AM on June 21, 2008 [2 favorites]


In 1984 Aladdin's Castle was charging a buck a play for Dragon's Lair. No way was I doing that. That was four rounds of Tempest right there.

Seriously, as a kid, that was a lot of money for me to use on just one game. I remember saving up to play that one magical game, only to die in 30 seconds. Not fun at all. Marble Madness and Crystal Castles were my addiction, a lot more fun per quarter.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:40 AM on June 21, 2008


In 1984 Aladdin's Castle was charging a buck a play for Dragon's Lair. No way was I doing that. That was four rounds of Tempest right there.

Seriously. It was the same at Saints' Roller Rink, but I sucked at Tempest (though I loved it) so that meant four rounds of Wizards of Wor.

Dragon's Lair was the ultimate trial and error game, at a buck/3 errors. "Hey, I made it 5 seconds longer than last time!"

Time Traveler was mesmerizing, in a completely sucky way. I've never seen so many people stare at an arcade game when no one was playing it. Nowadays, I think these are the fascinating "WTF?!" games when you encounter them for the first time. (but awesome WTF like DL, not stupefied WTF like Time Traveler)
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 8:02 AM on June 21, 2008


Ooh, Qix, too.

Give me brightly colored lines, deceptively simple play, room for happy accidents and discoveries any day.

If that's the case, you'll probably enjoy "Typhoon" (Tempest) and Grid Wars.

But for quirky, what about Chiller and Xybots?
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 8:11 AM on June 21, 2008 [2 favorites]


Played this game a couple of times, but as it was a major, unrepentant quarter hog, left it for greater enjoyment with the Star Wars arcade game.

"May the force be with you...always."
posted by darkstar at 8:41 AM on June 21, 2008


I give another shout out for Marble Madness, too. :)
posted by darkstar at 8:42 AM on June 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


So the nostalgia machine is finally getting to that thin slice of gen X I'm a part of . . .

Well, in that case, I remember begging my dad to drive me to the only arcade in town that had Dragon's Lair. I felt I had some special relationship to the game, like it was meant for me, because I'd read so many articles about it in video game magazines, and I considered Don Bluth a near deity.

Of course, there was a line. And when you were the next in line, the custom was to put all of your quarters/tokens on the, um . . . not sure what to call it, but it was the top, over-hanging part of the game cabinet . . . and it sloped slightly backward and there was a metal rim upon which one could set coins flat against the display so that they appeared to be miraculously balanced, and sometimes kids would stack them for several layers, the upper-level coins situated between two lower ones, like this:

 O O
O O O

and putting those coins there meant that you had the right to keep playing until those coins ran out.

So my dad had been very generous and had given me something like $20 to play with, and so I stacked as many coins as I could on that overhanging panel, way more than any other kid, and, frankly, it made me feel like the king of the arcade.

The thing was, whenever I reached up for another coin, it seemed a few were missing. But I had to keep playing, no time to worry about the coins, it was all I could do to stay alive for just a few scenes, and I wanted to get as far as I could, because I'd read so much about it and I thought I knew how to play it . . .

The longer I played, the more quickly my coin stash unnaturally dwindled, and it wasn't long before I was completely out, at which point there was nothing to do watch the other kids play -- the same ones who'd taken my coins -- while I waited for my dad to pick me up some 45 minutes later. Damn game put me in my place, in more ways that one.
posted by treepour at 9:17 AM on June 21, 2008 [3 favorites]


I'm old, so I remember this in the arcades too. It was one of very few games I can remember that attracted crowds of people who would lean in just to watch other people play, even if those players weren't very good. It was just that amazing to see "graphics" like that in an arcade game.

I also remember it as the fastest quarter eater. You could die three times, the same way, in about twelve seconds. NEXT!
posted by rokusan at 9:38 AM on June 21, 2008


I still have a Dragon's Lair laserdisc, although I've long since given away the serial-controllable LD player that let me play it via DAPHNE. When it originally came out, we were too poor for me to play it, but you can bet that I borrowed my friend's strategy guide (I can still vividly remember the smell of that book) and memorized it so I'd know what I was doing if I ever happened to stumble across a cache of quarters and a way to get to the one arcade within an hour of where we lived.

I didn't actually play the game until, during the dotcom boom, I picked up an original disc, a player, and an early version of the emulator, back when it could only control a real industrial ld player, not MPEGs. I was amazed at how much of the strategy guide I remembered.

I wonder how much it'd cost to get Bluth et al to sign the heavy aluminum side of that disc?
posted by hades at 9:47 AM on June 21, 2008


So I wasn't imagining things. Sega made one other game for the Time Traveler cabinet, Holosseum.
posted by roll truck roll at 9:57 AM on June 21, 2008


I was a big Space Ace fan. I remember spending an entire summer with my best friend Jay feeding quarter after quarter into that machine, until finally I beat it. It was huge.

Graphics and storytelling of the time were so primitive in other video games that the sense that you were controlling a MOVIE was really amazing. It was visually an enormous leap forward, even if your ability to control it was mostly about twitching in the proper direction at exactly the prescribed moment.

I thought it was much more fun than Dragon's Lair, personally. Both of them had wimpy protagonists, but at least Space Ace could turn into a big muscle bound hero, at the appropriate times, with the touch of a button.

I fought the dragon a few times in Dragon's Lair, but I BEAT Space Ace, and to my junior high school self, that was a big accomplishment.
posted by MythMaker at 10:26 AM on June 21, 2008


I was amazed at how much of the strategy guide I remembered.

I loved the game too but how much strategy was there in "move toward the yellow flash with exactly the right timing?"

Or was the strategy guide basically that, telling you which moves to memorize and saying "notice the goblet flashes".

(serious though snarky question)
posted by rokusan at 10:56 AM on June 21, 2008


Sold!
posted by P.o.B. at 1:09 PM on June 21, 2008


The only game I ever beat (with a little cheat sheet). Good times.
posted by justgary at 1:46 PM on June 21, 2008


The strategy guide listed what sequence of moves got you through each scene, and what order the scenes appeared in. So, yeah, not so much in the way of "strategy"; more "memorization". Of course, it also only helped with certain firmware versions, as far as scene order went.

One cool thing about the Dragon's Lair Project is that they have a replacement firmware that you can swap into an old DL cabinet (or use in DAPHNE) to greatly improve play compared to the original version.
posted by hades at 2:55 PM on June 21, 2008


Cliffhanger was my absolute favorite game. It was the first game I looked for in every arcade I went to - and almost none of them ever had it.

So who knows where I can find an mpeg rip that DecemberBoy mentioned of Cliffhanger?
posted by ericbop at 7:53 PM on June 21, 2008


I wasted my parents' share of quarters on all those games, but I learned an important lesson with Dragon's Lair - it was more fun to watch someone else waste their quarters than to spend my own. I watched a guy get all the way to the end of Dragon's Lair and save Daphne. At the time that was an awesome experience, but I was just a kid. The idea of BEING the one beating the game? It was a distant fantasy for me but on the whole didn't carry enough luster to actually keep me throwing the coins into the slot. It was enough to just watch someone else do it.

Then again... Nowadays I throw fifteen dollars a month down the hole to play City of Heroes. Guess I didn't learn my lesson, after all. At least now it's not my parents' money.
posted by ZachsMind at 10:23 PM on June 21, 2008


sonascope writes "I remember when the first Dragon's Lair machines showed up in the arcade of my local mall and how it seemed to me at the time that it represented the thin edge of the wedge of superficial gloss completely trumping actual game design."

Yeah, that's about how I felt. It drew me in a few times, but it wasn't fun to actually play. I mostly stuck to Defender, Tempest, Zaxxon, Zelda, etc. I ruled Defender, but it took a lot of quarters to get there ...

I don't recognize any of those other Laserdisc games, except Space Ace, and that's only vaguely. I never played it. I lost interest in video games in high school and started to play pinball again when a friend worked at the local mini golf/arcade, almost always a Williams machine, especially Black Knight. There were some great pinball machines made throughout the '90s, too. That's where a lot of my quarters went later when I was old enough to drink ...
posted by krinklyfig at 10:49 PM on June 21, 2008


What was the game they showed a teaser for, where a samurai jumps in the air and slices a helicopter in half while thinking (out loud) something like "Once again, I am disturbed by another useless object." Was that cliffhanger?
posted by mecran01 at 9:12 AM on June 22, 2008


That was Cliffhanger.

"Once again... I cut a worthless object."
posted by Foosnark at 11:24 AM on June 22, 2008


I'll buy the DVD, if they promise I'll be able to watch it for more than 60 seconds before a quick and inexplicable death.
posted by Brian James at 12:28 PM on June 22, 2008


That Samurai scene was incredibly amusing to me as a 12 year old -- it's so completely non-sequitur. It's like snakes on a plane, except 100 times less likely. A samurai. Standing in the sewer. Friendly to Cliff. Ready to chop a helicopter in half. In case one should happen by chasing a friend.

http://youtube.com/watch?v=mynp5q0C0eE

Someday I'll have to watch Castle of Cagliostro to see if the narrative makes anymore sense. I sure liked the milieu portrayed by the animation.
posted by weston at 1:24 PM on June 22, 2008


I lost interest in video games in high school and started to play pinball again when a friend worked at the local mini golf/arcade, almost always a Williams machine, especially Black Knight.

Love pinball. Not a connoisseur, but you mentioned one of the few machines I remember liking a great deal. Though my all-time fave is Pinbot, and I was sorely tempted by one on sale not long ago.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 8:14 PM on June 22, 2008


I am a Robotron god. +3000000, with 20guys on the lowest difficulty level.. I miss my early teens so much. I am a Robotron god.
posted by Flex1970 at 7:13 PM on June 23, 2008


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