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Armored Core 2
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1995-2001
GamesFirst! Magazine

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by Capcom

drag18.jpg (8868 bytes)Dragon’s Lair on the Gameboy Color is an impressive achievement. There is no contesting that. But as a game? Well, it is what it is. It’s Dragon’s Lair, and there is only so much that you can expect from this game. I may sound like I’m equivocating here, but you don’t play Dragon’s Lair for the gameplay. It is nothing more than memorizing a series of moves that have to be timed in sync with the actions on the screen. There is no skill to it, and when you beat it there is little satisfaction. But like all of those crappy John Hughes movies of my youth (Ferris Bueller’s Day off excluded) I can’t allow myself to be too critical of nostalgia. Nostalgia is great because it gives bite to our criticisms of the rising generation. If you rip apart the gems of youth then you’ll never be able to say things to your grandchildren like, "In my day we didn’t have any of this fancy virtual reality stuff, we played laser disc cartoons and we liked it!"

drag31.jpg (8204 bytes)I feel like I have a long history with Dragon’s Lair. I’ve played it on every system imaginable (yes even the Coleco Adam and the Atari Jaguar) and I still have fond memories of shelling out my allowance in the arcade. No matter how brief the play time, and it was always brief, I kept going back hoping to get just a little further. Playing it on the Game Boy Color took me back to a simpler time and I have to admit that I enjoyed the trip.

drag33.jpg (6913 bytes)Dragon’s Lair was the centerpiece machine of any arcade you entered. All the gamers flocked to it to play or to watch. It really was the first game where it was as much fun to watch someone else play as it was to play yourself. Dragon’s Lair was Don Bluth in his hey day—just after The Secret of Nimh and before American Tail. The man is due for a comeback. Perhaps a Dragon’s Lair movie would have been a more savvy move than Titan A.E.

drag41.jpg (6696 bytes)With truly interactive cartoons like Jet Grind Radio coming out, you have to wonder why so many systems seem to need their own version of Dragon’s Lair. I couldn’t help feeling that the Game Boy version was the product of some sort of dare that a couple of bored programmers made over a game of Pokemon. I’m sure that it started innocent enough with something like, "You know, I bet I could port Dragon’s Lair to a Genesis cartridge." And then the reply, "Yeah? Well I bet I could put it on the Super Nintendo." And somehow, through the course of events someone said those fateful words that sealed it, "Yeah? Well I triple dog dare you to do a Game Boy version." The rising generation of gamers will have little use for Dirk and Daphne and the old school gamers won’t do much more than say "Neat!" when they see it. Don’t get me wrong, this game is a little marvel, but like most miracles it will soon be forgotten.

drag42.jpg (7296 bytes)The programmers did a first rate job with the video compression. It feels much more like Dragon’s Lair than the cassette-based Coleco version ever did. But in the end, no matter how impressive a feat, it’s still Dragon’s Lair. It took me a little while to refresh my memory about all of the right moves (left, right, up, attack), but once I did, it was a brief experience walking through the game (I probably could have played it blindfolded, but since the game is pure eye candy that might have defeated the purpose.). There is a nice little tutorial for those out there who haven’t played the game before (shame on you), but that’s about as innovative as this title gets.

Dragon’s Lair will always have a special place in my gamer’s heart. I have to admit that I’m looking forward to seeing what will be done with the Dragon’s Lair PC game. The screen shots I’ve seen have been impressive and the idea of actually being able to exert some control over Dirk Daring will be the fulfillment of a lifelong dream.

Although quaint by today’s gaming standards, the original Dragon’s Lair was revolutionary when it hit the scene over 15 years ago. It belongs high in the video gamers’ canon. For those who remember it fondly, the Game Boy port will be a nice walk down memory lane, but you want to be careful not to spend too much time with those memories. There’s nothing worse than deconstructed nostalgia.

Jason Frank

Snapshot

Ups: Nostalgia; good video compression; nice port.

Downs: Well, it's just Dragon's Lair...

System Reqs:
Game Boy Color

 

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