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I'm not too keen on laser-disk arcade games, particularly
Dragon's Lair. But I have to admit that Software Projects have made the best of a bad job. What impresses me most about this game is the cassette loading technique -- it works very well indeed. I'm glad to see that Software Projects have read the Mindsmear piece and have actually put some of the theories into practice. With any luck they will produce a decent game to go with their novel-load system. I don't dislike this conversion, just the original concept.

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I must say that I'm not bowled over by this conversion. The graphics appear poorly defined for the amount of space they occupy, and the action -- although not particularly fast -- gets extremely frustrating to the point where you almost give up. The sound is reasonable, I suppose, but doesn't give any atmosphere to the game. Don't buy this on the strength of the arcade version, you'll probably be disappointed.

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Welcome to Game of the Week! Each week there will be a new featured game on this page. The game may be good, average or diabolically bad, it really doesn't matter! Just look at the pics, read the text and enjoy the nostalgia! :-) Game of the Week! is open to contributions so if you would like to contribute a game article for this page you're more than welcome to! Every article we receive will be considered!
Dragon's Lair
1986 Software Projects
Programmed by ?
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Most text of the present article comes from the review published in the seventeenth issue of the British C64 magazine ZZAP!64 (street date: July 21st, 1986).
 

DRAGON'S LAIR
Software Projects, 9.95 cass, 14.95 disk, joystick only


Old King Aetheried was a merry old soul, and a merry soul was he. He called for his pipe, and he called for his bowl -- and then, all of a sudden, some mean and ugly dragon came along and trudged off with his voluptuous young daughter. Before the sun had disappeared behind the trees, the dragon delivered an ultimatum -- if the King didn't hand over his treasure, his daughter would fry.

The king was rather put out about this, so he set about finding a hero to rescue his beloved. All the local knights wimped out -- bar one, Dirk the Dating, champion of good and destroyer of evil! He wasn't scared of a silly old dragon, oh no, he donned the most resilient suit of armour money could buy, and prepared to go to her rescue . . .

So the storyline goes in Software Projects new arcade conversion. Nine of the scenes which appeared in the original machine have been converted, and are loaded in one at a time as you play. Consequently, when you finish a screen the next one is waiting for you. And when you start playing that one, the next bit loads in -- and so on! Here's a breakdown of the nine screens:

THE FALLING DISK

Dirk has leapt onto a disk which has suddenly started to plummet down a deep hole. Using forced perspective to depict the scene, you have to make sure that Dirk stays on the disk while the dragon's minions are hell-bent on blowing him off. If you stay on the disk long enough it stops, allowing you to leap off -- if you're quick enough!

SKULL HALLWAY

This scene is very similar to its arcade counterpart. Dirk has found himself in a hallway, doors either side of him. Suddenly, they open, and skulls and giant skeletons begin to attack. Using his trusty sword and some nifty footwork, he either has to dodge or slay the marauding meanies.

THE BURNING ROPES

This scene is like a screen from a classic platform game. A fire is raging below Dirk and he has to reach the top of the screen by swinging from the ropes between platforms, before the fire catches up with him. Time is of the essence since the fire is eating away at the platforms.

THE WEAPONS ROOM

Dirk has inadvertently strolled into the dragon's haunted weapons room. Large sprites are used to portray the action as Dirk avoids or destroys the flying menaces.

RAMPS AND GIDDY GOONS

A series of ramps form the route to the next screen, but unfortunately they are guarded by the evil Goons. Don't pause too long to battle with them, since the ramps disappear and Dirk falls to his doom . . .

THE TENTACLE ROOM

Dirk is happily walking through an innocent-looking room when all of a sudden large serpents appear through the cracks in the walls and ceiling. Kill them or be crushed by their deadly coils.

THE SECOND DISK

Exactly the same as the first scene.

THE DEADLY CHECKERBOARD

Play Singe's champion knight at a deadly game. You must chase him around a giant checkerboard and slay him. But the beast is turning the squares into deadly pools of fire which have to be avoided if you are to stay alive.

SLAYING THE DRAGON

Once again, large sprites portray the scene as Dirk and Singe meet in a final confrontation -- the prize is the princess.

     

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Considering the immense difference between a laser-disk arcade game and a 64, I think Software Projects have done quite a decent job with this conversion. The graphics aren't quite as good as they should have been, but the cassette loading system is absolutely brilliant. Hopefully it'll be used again to give us cassette owners a new style of game. The game itself is a varied one, combining all sorts of aspects of gameplay to portray the various screens. It's not a particularly brilliant program, but it is challenging and addictive.
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Presentation 90%

Good packaging and instructions, and a superb loading system, but there are still some annoying delays throughout the game itself.

Graphics 71%
Vary between average and very good.

Sound 60%
Various ditties, but nothing to inspire
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Hookability 70%
Interest in the arcade game will definitely attract.

Lastability 69%
Rescuing the princess is tough and demanding, but not overly addictive.

Value For Money 65%
Nine screens of action for a tenner.

Overall 69%
A good arcade conversion and an interesting concept, which is let down by a few weak gameplay elements.
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Htmlized by Dimitris Kiminas (25 Mar 2007)
Only the first of the above screenshots existed in the original review.

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