19 years ago, a video game arrived in the arcades which was supposed to rewrite the history books for video gaming. And in some unexpected ways, Dragon’s Lair did just that. But at the time, all we knew was that it was an insanely cool game using a laserdisc to run specific sequences of gorgeous Don Bluth (The Secret Of NIMH, Xanadu) animation. Which sequences it ran depended on your actions – more often than not it turned out to be the death of your alter-ego, dim-witted knight Dirk The Daring.
Over the years, every attempt has been made to keep Dragon’s Lair alive as a viable property, ranging from a Saturday morning cartoon which lost a lot of the game’s goofy appeal, to a dismal sequel game, to lame attempts to revive the game on the then-monochrome Game Boy handheld. Around 1999, however, with the advent of DVD technology, it was finally possible to play Dragon’s Lair at home. Both Dragon’s Lair and Dragon’s Lair II, along with the vastly superior (and also Bluth-animated) laserdisc arcade game Space Ace, were released as “DVD Video Games,” and there was a moderate upsurge of interest in the old game. PC DVD-ROM versions were also released, as was an impressive, technology-stretching Game Boy Color edition which actually featured the complete digitized video of the original coin-op.
Having managed to drag Dragon’s Lair back into the public eye, Don Bluth and Digital Leisure are now in the final stages of preparing a new PC and console title, Dragon’s Lair 3-D, for release. By all accounts, the demonstrations shown of this game are fantastic, and perhaps even better than the game itself is the fact that we now have – almost 20 years too late – Dragon’s Lair action figures.
Dirk the Daring and Princess Daphne, as seen here, have been a bit modernized – these figures are based much more on their revised look in the new computer game than the original cartoon characters. This is most easily noticed with Dirk’s new visage, a little more bulldoggish than his original cartoon appearance, and Princess Daphne is somehow missing that certain something in her face that made the original arcade game’s incarnation of the character such an eye-popper. However, on that subject, perhaps to the dismay of some purists (especially those who were in the throes of adolescence when Dragon’s Lair first hit the arcades in ’83), Princess Daphne’s attire, while by no means conservative, is certainly a lot less sheer. Those hoping that Dragon’s Lair 3-D might equate to a triple-D Daphne will probably notice that her measurements have been toned down just a wee little bit. Each figure comes with a few accessories and a companion critter – Dirk is packed with a bothersome floating eyeball creature (and here I was hoping for a Giddy Goon) while Daphne has a little hatchling dragon; Daphne also comes with a stand disguised as a pile of treasure – without it, the figure literally can’t stand on its own two feet. Dirk’s accessories – two skeleton keys and a health potion – can be neatly tucked away in his rubberized backpack, which can snap close. Very handy, that.
Not shown is Mordroc, the hunchbacked goblin-like wizard from Dragon’s Lair II (and who will be stepping up to a larger role in Dragon’s Lair 3-D). A second wave is promised, and hopefully it’ll feature more of the original arcade game’s enemies, including the Giddy Goon and the Black Knight.
Dirk the Daring.
Princess Daphne and sidekicks.
Singe the Dragon.