Dragon's Lair: The Legend
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.
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.
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.