Sunday 9 August 2015

Dragon's Lair (Mega CD / Sega CD review)

Developer: Epicenter Interactive
Publisher: Readysoft
Released: 1993

Dragon's Lair is a Full-Motion Video (FMV) game that was first released in the Arcades ten years earlier.

You play the role of Dirk the Daring and your mission is to rescue Princess Daphne who's being held captive by a fire-breathing dragon. Your adventure takes you through 27 different scenes and each one consists of quick-time events. As you watch the video footage it's up to you to escape unharmed by using the d-pad to move Dirk in four directions or pressing the B button to swing your sword. Occasionally a flash of light will show you the correct route but other times you're left to your own devices. Lots of trial and error is required but unlike the Philips CD-i version this Mega CD port allows for unlimited continues. If you lose all five lives you're only taken back a few scenes. This means that you only have to memorise small chunks of gameplay at a time and it stops you getting too frustrated. Each set of scenes also play in the same order throughout (instead of being randomised) and it makes it feel like more of an adventure rather than interspersed clips. It might initially seem that the controls are a bit unresponsive but they actually require exact timing and you can't just button mash your way through. Some scenes consist of only a single button but others are complex with several required moves. Although it's not always obvious what you need to do it's immensely satisfying when you figure it out. This version isn't complete though and some things are absent including the rope swinging area. The video is washed out but looks decent and takes up most of the screen unlike many other FMV games on the Mega CD. Unfortunately the audio is distorted in parts especially during the Round Cage section.

Dragon's Lair on the Mega CD is much more user-friendly than some other ports and the unlimited continues lessen the frustration factor. It's still challenging but it encourages you to keep trying and in the end patient gamers will find a lot to like here.

Random trivia: The developers of the original Arcade version made the game on a strict budget and so to save money they recorded all the voice acting themselves!

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