Friends, for some obvious reasons I believe I think about the Golden Age of arcades and video games more than most – it is not just because of the Diary of An Arcade Employee podcast – but having the opportunity to work at an arcade in my neck of the woods for nearly eight years. Which means I am lucky enough to see many classic arcade games on a regular basis – that is of course before COVID-19 reared it’s ugly head – but the fact is I get to play two of my favorite arcade games of all time when I feel like it. I doubt it will be a surprise to learn that I’ve covered both on the Diary podcast – TRON and Dragon’s Lair – these are the games that when I have a moment of free time that I will allow myself a couple of minutes of playtime.
Due to the proximity of Dragon’s Lair to the front of the arcade – I will have to admit that it is the arcade cabinet I spend the most time with. Of course like I shared with that 1983 WLOX news report – obviously a lot of the draw to Dragon’s Lair has to do with that beautiful animation by Don Bluth and his associates – that is what seems to draw the younger Players who visit the arcade over to it as well. Although having said that I will admit that usually until we explain how the game is played they are easily discouraged and attempt to walk away from the machine. At the very least they aren’t having to pump 50 cents into the cabinet for the chance to play a couple of minutes like in the old days, right?
In my youth I dreamed of being able to play Dragon’s Lair at home and that eventually happened thanks to titles that were inspired by the arcade game like Escape from Singe’s Castle for the Commodore 64 in 1987. Playing it on the Amiga though was the closest thing to the arcade game as you had actual scenes from Dragon’s Lair and even a few new ones that were created for game itself – like an enchanted door knocker and having to face off against the Grim Reaper to rescue Princess Daphne!
Of course there were times that due to the limitations of the technology of the system – Dragon’s Lair became a platformer… and while I have to admit I was a little disappointed – the fact that I was playing as Dirk the Daring made up for those shortcomings. However in ’91 I was shocked to walk into a local arcade to find that Dragon’s Lair II: Time Warp had been released – I truly had no idea that a sequel had been in the works. Once again I was able to spend some time catching up with Dirk and Daphne – not to mention the chance to finally get to see and battle the evil Mordroc, the Wizard that was mentioned in some of the game manuals.
Did you know though that as great as Dragon’s Lair II: Time Warp is – there was at least one scene that Don Bluth and his animators had been working on that didn’t make it into the finished game? As Dirk is hopping around moments in time it was intended that he face off against none other than Blackbeard the Pirate – I suppose… ahem… time ran out and the team decided to cut it. Having said that though it saw the light of day in the 1993 Dragon’s Lair III: The Curse of Mordread game for the Atari ST, Amiga, and PC.
The final stage which takes place in Father Time’s Castle was included in the game as well – with Dragon’s Lair III: The Curse of Mordread being developed by Don Bluth Multimedia and produced by ReadySoft.