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Dragon's Lair 20th Anniversary Special Edition
  opened by paleface at 01:49:14 08/18/03  
  paleface [sys=PS2; cat=Laser_Disc; loc=NA]
I classified this as a North American PS2 game but really it's three region-free DVDs that play in any DVD player, including a PS2. An attractive though not very sturdy little box case holds individual DVD cases with "Dragon's Lair," "Dragon's Lair II: Time Warp" and "Space Ace." The amazingly hyperactive hand animation looks better than ever here, plus of course they throw in extras like restored scenes in Dragon's Lair, interviews with animator Don Bluth, Rick Dyer and the other creators, a mode where you can play the animation from beginning to end without having to input the moves at all, the amusing Dragon's Lair "Starcade" TV episode, recent interviews and previews where they try to shill the new "Dragon's Lair 3D" (looks awful) and other stuff.
I was most interested in the 1983 TV interviews with Bluth and Dyer where they're so into the arcade success of Dragon's Lair and the revolution the laser disc has made in the game industry, and how Hollywood and programming are finally coming together, and you start to wonder what the hell happened and why didn't Dyer's company keep churning these things out. I don't really know but there's the one slightly later interview with Dyer where they're showing what he's working on, his big secret project being a home laser disc entertainment system. "My wife and I are putting everything we have into this," he's saying nervously, "It's kind of scary."
Oh dear! But at least we've got these three games. The big downer is the second-long pause each time you input a move--unavoidable with current DVD-player technology, according to the accompanying pamphlet, but a shame nevertheless as it definitely detracts from the beautiful flow of the animation.
The first Dragon's Lair is my least favorite to play as it rarely shows a real indication of which action you need to perform. You can play with unlimited lives so it kind of becomes a guessing game, but still, many of the moves are frustratingly unintuitive. Some of the scenes in Dragon's Lair are really poor quality, like the clippings got dropped in an acid bath or something. Most look great however.
Space Ace has some neat stuff like branching paths and the option to play many scenes as either Ace or his young geeky self Dexter. The hints here are a little more consistent but most allow hardly any time to react, so again it's largely memorization. I love the art in this one though.
Dragon's Lair II is the most playable as an action game since you actually get a nice blinky-blinky action hint almost all the time (at least as far as I've gotten) and some time in which to input it--the post-input pauses are the most distracting here however as the frequent speech often overlaps actions, so lines sometimes get paused mid-sentence or even mid-word, making it hard to hear the script.
All the games have an "Easy" mode where it shows a little diamond in the lower right corner when an input is required, and confirms a good or bad input. It'd have been great if you could have enabled clear hints as to which action to take each time, so it would become more of a reaction game like Time Gal & Ninja Hayate, but such was not to be. All the same I somehow find myself getting caught up in these games and before I know it it's 4:00am and I'm so close to rescuing the girl...
· Thayer's Quest (PS2)

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