Dirk the Daring brings his heroic deeds to iPhone.
Back in 1983, Don Bluth's laser-disc arcade game, Dragon's Lair, was a huge success. We spent hours memorizing all the moves through each stage, in the hope of rescuing the beautiful Princess Daphne. Twenty-six years later, the game lives on through re-release. It gained a huge following on DVD, and Digital Leisure recently gave it the Blu-ray treatment, with outstanding results. Now, the iPhone and iPod Touch get its own flawless port.
In the game, you control Dirk the Daring as he works his way through Mordroc's castle. He'll encounter dangers of all kinds, from snakes to fire to otherworldly demons that want to take him out of commission. Using his sword and quick movements, he'll need to survive in order to reach the final showdown with Singe the Dragon.
Some sequences are rather easy, requiring only one to two moves to get through. (Word of advice: if you see a potion saying, "Drink Me", avoid it.) However, later in the game, more complicated challenges arise, including a battle with an electrically-powered Black Knight, a sequence with a rapidly disappearing floor and a horse ride that has you dodging flaming walls. Some of these require patience to get through (particularly the stage with swinging pistons that requires utmost accuracy), but once you figure them out, you'll reach the Dragon's Lair in no time flat.
The trial-and-error-based gameplay is just as good as it was back in 1983. You use an on-screen joystick and action button, which instantly react to your touches. Make a right move, and you'll get a "dink" acceptance noise. Screw up, and you'll hear a "buzz", with Dirk dying a number of creative ways. (We love it when the Lizard King bonks him on the head and drags him off like a bearskin rug.) Kudos to EA and Digital Leisure for staying true to the arcade original, rather than trying to modernize it.
In addition, Dragon's Lair has two modes of play. There's the original arcade mode, complete with mirrored sequences that run in random order, and a special home mode, which includes deleted stages that didn't make it into the original game. It's great to see these, even if they're shorter than expected.
That brings us to the presentation, and here's where Digital Leisure continues to shine on the iPhone. Like Space Ace, Dragon's Lair features flawless animation. Every frame of Don Bluth's work is present and accounted for, from the Lizard King's frantic hopping to Dirk's confident (yet clumsy) stance. It looks almost as beautiful as the Blu-ray version, and that's huge for a portable game.
The audio is equally impressive, with small music cues, great sound effects (the loud squeal when skeleton heads come charging in) and Dirk's constant grunts. (He never says anything.)
Best of all, this game will only set you back $5. You get the full Dragon's Lair arcade game in your pocket for an Abraham Lincoln. Considering what the original cost to play back in 1983 (a buck a pop), it's a bargain. If you're a long-time fan of the Dragon's Lair franchise, or even if you're a first-time player, this is a must-buy. Now all we need is a port of Dragon's Lair II: Timewarp, and we'll be set.
What's Hot: Unbelievably good video and audio bring the classic arcade game to life, outstanding trial-and-error gameplay, extra deleted scenes, only five bucks.
What's Not: We still hate Giddy Goons, some frustrating sequences.