Dragon’s Lair (HD-DVD)

January 28, 2012 5 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

Dirk the Daring is a brave knight in shining armor, the kind of man who risks life and limb to rescue damsels in distress. In this case, the bold knight seeks to rescue Princess Daphne, who is in dire peril. An evil dragon has kidnapped Daphne and now, its up to Dirk to storm the castle and liberate the beautiful princess. The task seems simple enough, but Dirk will face all manner of minions and hazards as traverses the castle. So not only with Dirk have to evade or battle enchanted monsters and other henchman, but the castle is full of booby traps and other dangerous tricks. But Dirk isn’t the kind to be scared off, even by a challenge this great, so he begins his assault on the castle. But can anyone, even one as brave as Dirk manage to not only survive the castle’s traps, but save Princess Daphne in the process?

Dragon’s Lair is back and for this high definition release, a frame by frame digital restoration was undertaken. While some fans might bemoan the new widescreen version, the restoration has paid off and I’ve never seen the visuals look this good. The game itself is the same as always, which is good for some, bad for others. I’m sure Dragon’s Lair was incredible when first released, compared to the graphics of other games out there, but time hasn’t been kind. The visuals still look good, but now almost every game features live action video or high end animation in cut screens. So with the visuals on a level field, the gameplay makes the difference and Dragon’s Lair just isn’t that much fun. The random order of the puzzles, the basic “press a button” style, and the repetitive nature of the engine all combine to create a dull, sometimes frustrating experience. Dragon’s Lair is best viewed through nostalgic eyes and for fans, this HD-DVD is a revelation.

Video: How does it look?

Dragon’s Lair is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. This is sure to upset the purists out there, as the original animation was created with a full frame presentation in mind. To be honest, the composition doesn’t look cramped or unnatural, but the high definition upgrade does look impressive. The restoration process has delivered visuals that shine like new, with a crisp and clean image throughout. The image is also well detailed, a vast improvement in clarity over the standard release. The colors are brighter and more vivid too, while contrast performs flawlessly. This is the kind of leap in quality that we expect from high definition, so kudos to Digital Leisure on this one.

Audio: How does it sound?

The audio has been upgraded to Dolby Digital 5.1 surround, but there isn’t much of an improvement. The nature of the game prevents any extensive surround presence, since the scenes are so rapid and change almost constantly. The music sounds good, as do the sound effects, but don’t expect a world of difference. The vocals are clean and clear also, so while not a huge step up, the material does sound quite good.

Supplements: What are the extras?

If you just want to kick back and see all the animation, you can do so here, thanks a watch mode. You can also enable an audio commentary track as you watch, with Don Bluth, Gary Goldman, and Rick Dyer. The session is decent, but the volume is too low and there’s only a moderate level of insight to be heard. You can hear more from the trio of creators in an interview, which runs about half an hour and is well worth a look. The interview has a lot more information and is a better option than the commentary, without question. My personal favorite of the supplements is the time capsule, which has clips of the various Dragon’s Lair incarnations, an awesome inclusion. The final extra is a restoration comparison.

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