The Game: Princess Daphne has been kidnapped by the evil wizard Mordroc, and before he can embark on the dangerous quest to save her, Dirk must first fend off the angry attack of his Viking-like mother-in-law as he makes his way to the castle. Once there, Dirk discovers a talking Time Machine which gets him out of one immediate crisis and then plunges him into several more. If Dirk can’t stop Mordroc from placing his ring on Daphne’s finger, he’ll lose her forever – and the world will have gained one more hideous monster. (Starcom, 1984)
Memories: Don Bluth and Rick Dyer turned to the adventures of Dirk the Daring (hero of the original Dragon’s Lair) for their third laserdisc game outing (the second being Space Ace), this time creating more of a storyline for Dirk to fulfill. The animation is nice, the game play is much more fast and furious, and yet I’m still unimpressed with Dragon’s Lair II as both video game and storytelling exercise.
Part of my beef with this game is that much of the story and animation are hugely derivative. At least one stage of the game is a shameless ripoff of Alice In Wonderland, as envisioned by Disney, complete with disembodied Cheshire Cat, and other stages seem to borrow heavily from such animated classics as Disney’s The Jungle Book. And the time machine? It bears more than a passing resemblance to the device seen in George Pal’s film adaptation of H.G. Wells’ “The Time Machine”. It’s amazing that this game didn’t draw multiple lawsuits – in that respect, the great crash of the video game industry may have saved Dragon’s Lair II from becoming a copyright attorney magnet. That said, however, the huge hun who appears to be Daphne’s mother is rather amusing…I just don’t see the family resemblance!
The game was vastly sped up by an alarming number of decision points, many more so than the original Dragon’s Lair. But this also meant many more pauses in the game while the CPU computed whether or not the player had performed the correct action – and what the outcome would be.
While Rick Dyer continued on until his company went kaput, this was Don Bluth’s final entry in the coin-op race.
The fine folks at Digital Leisure have once again produced a playable DVD of Dragon’s Lair II. One very nice feature of the DVD version is the bonus track, which shows the pencil test animation and temp track sound effects and music for the entire game in sequence.