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Dragon's Lair: The Legend

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Reviewed by Ed Yes, this is called Dragon's Lair, and it's loosely associated with the legendary arcade game of the same name. But if you're expecting an experience similar to the arcade, I'd like to remind you that this is a Game Boy game we're talking about, and an old-school black & white game at that. I can't really remember the story; that's how memorable this game is. It seems Daphne, the helpless damsel from the original, has died or something, and you have to find the hundreds of spirit stones strewn throughout the land to awaken some heroic. . . knight. . . guy. . . so he can. . . oh, it's all just a big dumb excuse to wander around picking up little shiny things.

Graphics 8 out of 10

This game looks beautiful for its time. The graphics are tiny (think Super Mario Land), but they've managed to make those little grey blurry pictures look real good. You can't make out your character's face, but he has several frames of animation just to take one step. Yowza! Almost everything has an incredible amount of detail on it, like the trees you climb (well, jump around on, anyway), the ancient looking signs that guide the way, the people milling around in the exquisite mine cart sequence. You can't even interact with those people; they're simply there to make the mine feel lived-in. That's how much detail they went to when making the visuals in this game. All in all, this game looks like a good pencil sketch come to life. Just enough detail in just the right places.

Music and Sound 9 out of 10

The accompanying musical track is the highlight of this game. (That should set off some warning signals right there.) It's a very long, brooding, medival-sounding piece that I absolutely love. It gives the game a very appropriate atmosphere. There's an option to turn the music off, but if you do, you don't know what you're missing. I have yet to hear a better musical arrangement for Game Boy. The sound effects are almost non-existent. There are exactly three sounds in the game: the "jump" noise, the pretty notes that play when you get a spirit stone, and the "death" noise. The jump noise can get pretty tiresome, especially since you jump a lot in this game. Play the game without music, and it almost feels like you're playing a Game & Watch Game.

Game Challenge 10 out of 10

This is a hard, hard, difficult, very hard game. You start with a generous nine lives, but they're terribly easy to lose, thanks to awful control and unforgiving level design. If you want to jump "out" instead of just straight up, you have to hold the control pad as you hit the jump button. If you hit the jump button just a *little* before the direction, you'll jump straight up before you start moving in the direction. And there are *several* jumps where you're standing right up against something deadly, and if you hit the pad just a *little* before the button, you'll walk straight into it and die. Combine this with the fact that you can die by falling too far and the fact that you have to make some tall mid-air jumps to get some of the spirit stones, and suddenly those nine lives don't seem like so many anymore. It says in the instruction manual that you can get all of the stones without losing a single life. It fails to mention that you'd have to spend years of playing the game non-stop to achieve such a feat. Oh yeah, and there are no passwords and no continues. Don't even *think* about a battery back-up for a turkey like this.

Game Play-Fun 1 out of 10

The game is just plain gorgeous, but it's not that much fun to play. You basically run around a single side-scrolling level picking up the stones. They range from "just walk up and grab it" to "how the heck do you reach that?" You jump around on platforms and avoid spikes. That's it. There's no enemies to fight (there's certainly lots of creatures, but they're there mostly to give you a ride), no neat power-ups to find, nothing. And since you're almost constantly dying, with no way to save your progress at all, this often feels like an exercise in futility.

Frustration

This game is virtually impossible, and there don't seem to be many rewards for doing well. Sometimes it's just a challenge to get from one end of the game to the other, ignoring the stones altogether. I consider that to be my victory over the game.

Replayability 1 out of 10

I think I've played this game once in the last three years, just to remind myself how bad it is. The only reason I can think of to replay this game is to admire the artwork or to love that soundtrack. I imagine it eats batteries faster than a Walkman, though.

Game Value 1 out of 10

If you're on a mission to collect every single Game Boy game that was ever made, then I'll sell you mine. If not, don't go near this one.

Overall F

This is a perfect example of how great graphics and great music do not make for a great game. If you ever see this game lying in a wastebasket, just leave it there. It's not worth the effort to bend down and pick it up, it's not worth the batteries it'll take to play it, and it's certainly not worth your time.

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