reviews\ Dec 1, 2002 at 7:00 pm

Dragon's Lair 3D: Return to the Lair - XB - Review

Dirk the Daring is back in full 3 – D movement control … and he hasn’t aged a bit in 20 years!


As I opened Dragon’s Lair 3-D, I made a stunning discovery. I realized that if I still had every quarter and every dollar that went into the Laserdisc games of the 80’s like Space Ace, Cliffhanger, and of course Dragon’s Lair, I would probably not have to work for a long number of months. All lost money aside, here I sit … 20 years later … once again getting to walk back into Mordoc’s bizarre castle and into the lair of Singe the Dragon to rescue the scantily clad Princess Daphne from her spherical prison. To make matters even better, this time I’m in full control of Dirk the Daring and all of his heroic (and clumsy) antics.


That’s right 80’s gamers … Don Bluth’s original masterpiece which attracted a ton of attention and sucked untold amounts of wallets dry has been resurrected and released on Xbox for your gaming pleasure. Instead of just pushing a direction at the right moment or the sword button this time, you fully control the bumbling wonder as he runs, jumps, swings, and slashes through an untold number of Giddy Goons, flying books, and a host of other familiar creatures throughout 250 trap and hazard filled rooms.


Essentially, Dragon’s Lair 3-D is a fighting platformer … plain and simple. Due to this, there are a lot of new actions that Dirk can perform like a tuck and roll maneuver to avoid getting his head caved in and can even swing his sword from a lying down position when he’s been knocked over. He also now has an added weapon … a crossbow … which is useful for picking off distant enemies or is used in places to get around a particular puzzle. The developers have also added in some new “Dragon Items” that must be found before facing Singe, and include wings for him to fly short distances or an essence that gives him life back. These draw off of a mana meter at the bottom of the screen, so once the mana is gone … you can’t use it until it fills back up.


As for controls, every button on the Xbox is used for one function or another, and each one is necessary as you progress through the game. Certain rooms will have Dirk jumping and climbing ledges, blocking or swinging at enemy attacks, or jumping from ledge to ledge. Each action has an assigned button, and fortunately they kept the right analog stick free to control the camera … and it of course has its typical third person adventure game problems of being at weird angles at the wrong time here and there. On a positive note, the camera can be moved around as you see fit in most areas that it’s needed, including when walls are behind you, and the only time it causes any major headaches can be in those precise jumping and timing moments … which happen more and more as the game progresses.


The first and biggest thing that really impressed me when I popped this one in was the level of detail and attention that it has been given. The entire game, backgrounds and all, have a high rez … hand drawn look to them, and déj


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