Dragon’s Lair is kind of retarded. Not retarded as in ‘that Downton Abbey show is retarded how good it is’ type, but the ‘i can’t even talk to you anymore you’re speaking like a retard’ type. I know I shouldn’t use that term, and apologies in advance, but it is seriously the only way I can think to describe Dragon’s Lair.
Now I don’t entirely hate Dirk the Daring. I love the awesome hand-drawn art style, and the classic clumsy knight fights off badass dragon thing. It is endearing. And he is honestly a character that I could see fitting in a really good Wayforward Technologies side scrolling action platformer. With talented animators and good level design, Dirk the Daring could make a mighty fine hero. Or at least no worse than Earthworm Jim.
It would at least be the best Dirk the Daring 2D side scroller by default though right? Wrong. Dirk the Daring has in fact been the star of his own side scroller on, of all things, the Game Boy. It isn’t surprising really, given that developers were always in the habit of bringing entirely different experiences of big boy consoles to the system. But what is surprising is that it is far, far, FAR better than its namesake.
Dragon’s Lair: The Legend on Game Boy, rather than a very pretty game of memory like the original, was a 2D platformer where Dirk the Daring needs to collect the parts of a shattered life stone to resurrect Princess Daphne. Whatever, it serves its purpose.
What I’m not telling you is that a substantial part of the game takes place on a mine cart. And you need to collect things on it. That require jumping.
Of course there is good reason for the fact that the game is basically a protracted mine-cart level. The game, developed by Motivetime Limited (who also happened to develop the under-appreciated Dr Franken), is actually a reworked version of the early ZX Spectrum game “Roller Coaster” which was released in 1985, which unsurprisingly featured a guy riding a Roller Coaster. Funny that.
Obviously there is nothing wholly original about Dragon’s Lair: The Legend on Game Boy. But it does achieve what the original Dragon’s Lair didn’t – that is present a game that is difficult because it requires skill and precision, not because you had a temporarily memory lapse, farted or sneezed. I want to earn Dirk the Daring’s death dammit! For what it’s worth though there is nothing else like it on the Game Boy, and while it will drive you up the wall in its (some could argue unreasonable) difficulty, once it gets its hooks into you it will keep you going for about as long as you can bear staring at the pea-soup green screen.