Dragon's Lair 3D simply isn't a very good game on its own merits.
Back in 1983, the original Dragon's Lair arcade game created by Rick Dyer, Don Bluth, Gary Goldman, John Pomeroy, and Chris Stone represented a remarkable technical achievement, as it used laser discs to essentially turn an animated cartoon into a playable video game. About 20 years later, the game has returned as Dragon's Lair 3D: Return to the Lair, a fully 3D game that uses cel-shaded graphics to attempt to re-create the cartoonlike appearance of the original game. And even though the excited testimonials of the original game's creators (which are included in the game as a three-part History of Dragon's Lair video retrospective) promise great things from the game, like its ability to take advantage of the extremely high resolution of high-definition TV, Dragon's Lair 3D simply isn't a very good game on its own merits. Its limited use of cel-shaded graphics, which seemed revolutionary when Dragon's Lair 3D was first revealed two years ago, is now thoroughly outdated, as is its simplistic, puzzle-based gameplay.
If you're familiar with the original Dragon's Lair, you'll remember that it was a simplistic action game that generally relied on your reflexes to solve simple puzzles as Dirk the Daring, a bumbling knight on a quest to rescue the fair princess Daphne from the evil wizard Mordroc and the dragon Singe. That game featured colorful, fluid, hand-drawn cartoon animation, while Dragon's Lair 3D features minimal use of cel-shaded graphics. Dragon's Lair 3D looked absolutely remarkable when it was first revealed by German publisher Blue Byte at the E3 convention in 2000, but that was more than two years ago.
In fact, it was trumped later that same year by Sega's artful Dreamcast game Jet Grind Radio (a game about a roller-blading gang that sprays their city with graffiti), which featured imaginative cartoon characters and colorful special effects that looked like nothing less than graffiti art come to life. Since then, lots of console games have gone on to use cel-shaded graphics to great effect, and Dragon's Lair 3D's limited use of the graphics technique, which is used only for Dirk and a few of his foes, is thoroughly unimpressive by today's standards. Even though Dirk himself looks decent enough, the dungeons he explores aren't cel-shaded and are textured extremely simply, apparently to match the cartoonlike look of Dirk, and they're so dull and drab that visually, Dirk sticks out like a sore thumb. It should also be noted that unless you happen to have your computer hooked up to a high-definition TV set, you won't be able to benefit from Dragon's Lair 3D's highest resolutions; on a standard computer monitor, you'll be able to see only part of the action--the upper-left part to be precise, since everything else gets chopped off.
Dragon's Lair 3D sounds about as good as it looks. The game features a grandiose symphonic soundtrack, which is, according to the "History of" videos, provided by a 70-piece orchestra, though the music is mainly ambient and easy to tune out, other than the same flourish you'll hear played over and over when Dirk finishes each of his challenges. The game also has sparse but decent voice acting; Dirk himself has no speaking lines, just like in the original Dragon's Lair, but instead makes a few cowardly noises when he's wounded or falls. Unfortunately, he has very few of these voice samples, and the one you'll hear the most, and probably get sick of the fastest, is the chimpanzee-like shriek he lets out whenever he takes damage. However, the game also features a good deal of voice-over from the breathless and ditzy Princess Daphne, who provides Dirk with hints through a magic amulet, and this voice-over is considerably better than Dirk's.
- Player Reviews: 2
- Game Universe:
- Dragon's Lair 3D: Return to the Lair (PC, PS2, GC, XBOX),
- Dragon's Lair (GBC, PC, GB, NES, DVD, DS, PSP, DS, MAC),
- Dragon's Lair II: Time Warp (PC, ARC, CDI, DVD, DS, PS3),
- Dragon's Lair 3 (PC, DVD),
- Dragon's Lair (C64, ARC, CPC, ZX, GEN),
- Dragon's Lair (3DO, JCD, SCD, AMI, PC),
- Dragon's Lair II: Time Warp HD (PC),
- Dragon's Lair Trilogy (WII),
- Space Ace HD (PC, IP),
- Dragon's Lair HD (PC)
- Number of Players: