While gaming technology has come a long way over the past few years, at one point it was all about how well video games adapted to laser discs. You know, laser discs – those big vinyl album-sized discs that videos were actually stored on. At one point, they were pioneers in the industry, utilized by games like Dragon’s Lair and Space Ace to create a temporary but still noteworthy revolution for Cinematronics.
And now those games are back, this time in digital form (we do miss those big discs tho) with Dragon’s Lair Trilogy, Digital Leisure’s re-release of Don Bluth’s three laser disc games. Now, while Space Ace isn’t a Dragon’s Lair adventure per se, it still fits into the collection, and shows just what kind of innovation Bluth and company were going for with the games. It’s a slight nitpick that’s easy to overlook.
The collection includes three games in all – Dragon’s Lair, Space Ace and Dragon’s Lair II: Timewarp, which made its debut in arcades in 1991 in a limited run by Tradewest. All three games have been wonderfully remastered to run smoothly on the PlayStation 4, although, in essence, you’re still playing three cartoons from the 80’s, so don’t look for anything on a stunning 4K level. Still, expect a bunch of good-looking games that will stir up a bit of nostalgia, especially when you hear Dirk the Daring grunting or that entertaining Space Ace theme.
Like the Wii release of Dragon’s Lair Trilogy that came out a few years ago, there are some extras scattered in this package. You can check out the original arcade cabinet designs for each machine, as well as little factoids revolving around each game. If you wish, you can also choose to just “watch” the games instead of playing through them, in case you feel like spoiling yourself or see what you might have been missing if you couldn’t beat a particular stage. (You can also watch “all the deaths,” if you’re feeling a bit morbid.)
There are also other neat extras, like the unfinished pirate stage from Dragon’s Lair II: Timewarp (just storyboards, but still cool), as well as interview snippets with Bluth and his team that provide a little background on each release. I wanted to see more of these, but what’s here is still excellent.
If you do go with the gameplay option – which is simply a matter of following correct moves as hinted on the screen – it’s genuinely authentic. Each game plays like their older counterparts, right down to the “beep” and “ngth” sound effects from each machine. And if you screw up, you get a fun little death animation for your trouble – and some of them are hilarious. And you can always turn on a guide in case you get stuck, like finding all of Timewarp’s hidden trinkets, which enable the final confrontation with the evil wizard Mordroc.
How much mileage you get out of Trilogy really depends how much you liked the Dragon’s Lair games in the past. If they annoyed you to no end, you probably won’t be so easily converted here. However, if you want to learn about a classic staple in arcade history, this is a must. And fans know this is definitely one worth digging into, especially for a $20 price tag, which isn’t too shabby compared to how the Blu-Rays and Dragon’s Lair Trilogy for Wii sell for over on eBay.
While Dragon’s Lair Trilogy could’ve used more extras, what’s here is certainly worth the money, especially if you’ve spent hours on end trying to conquer the dragon or defeat Commander Borf in arcades. Nostalgists won’t want to miss it – it’s like a Bluth Christmas!
WWG’s Score: Four out of five Dirks.
Disclaimer: A review code was provided by the publisher.