Without a doubt the second worst game I’ve ever played

Dragon’s Lair is one of those games that has legendary status. Originally a 1983 laserdisc arcade machine, it’s been ported to just about every format ever. Curious about a part of gaming history, I bought the iPhone version from the app store a while back.

It’s without doubt the second worst game I’ve ever played. To my knowledge, only once have boredom, frustration and outright offensiveness been combined to greater effect. While Don Bluth’s animation does look beautiful on the iPhone screen, that’s all the game is. Originally shipping on a laserdisc meant that all the game could do was play pre-recorded video clips in response to timed inputs. You have no control here. It’s singlehandedly responsible for the deluge of so-called “Interactive Movies” that blighted the mid-90s, when we all finally got the smaller silver platters in our own homes. Today it would be known as nothing but a succession of quick time events, and the iPhone version handily takes a lesson from more modern games and displays the correct button to press on the screen. Previous versions relied on guess work and memory. You die a lot in Dragon’s Lair.

The fact that arcade audiences not only paid to play this, but came back and paid to play it again and again literally boggles the mind. Avoid.

2 thoughts on “Without a doubt the second worst game I’ve ever played

  1. I remember spending a few pocketfuls of quarters on the original Dragon’s Lair when it was in arcades… but I didn’t spend near as much as the hordes of people that I saw play it time and time again. Its’ animation aside, it quickly grew frustrating and boring to me.

    Looking back now, I see it for even more of a ‘money-grab’ than I originally saw it for back in its’ prime [but then, arcade games always were and are still], what I mean is, it was a really, really obvious money-grabbing machine to me. It hit me a little faster back then, because the arcade owners usually set the machine to be more expensive than others. Yes, the novelty of it and movie-animation warranted that, but there was something more to it – perhaps it was the beginning of the time of the end for Western gaming arcades – there was almost a sense of desperation about it, a pushy-salesman feeling to the game. The difficulty (no helpful icons of what to do back then), combined with the level of price to play the game, made it seem more negative than anything, despite the catchy graphics and double-entendre of the title (“Dragon’s Lair”/”Dragonslayer”). If Flappy Bird cost a lot of money to purchase/play (and was still available Officially), it would be the exact same feeling.

    Games in general are already a near ‘nothing-for-something’, if you argue ‘entertainment/experience’ versus ‘tangible goods’, but sometimes the greed (or flatness of presentation) feels a little too strong, smells a little to harsh – then it tends to drive people away. As it has.

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