Anyone who has experienced the previous Dragon's Lair games will no
doubt be familiar with the story, which consists of the fairly standard
nasty witch/wizard kidnaps beautiful pricess/maiden, holds her ransom for
no apparent reason and cackles evilly as the kingdom rallies round in
But for those who aren't clued up, I'll tell you most - because, unusually,
the story is a major part of the game in this particular instance.
Daphne (the princess type) found herself kidnapped by some warlock geezer
named Mordroc - Lord only knows why, but there you go. Anyway, Dirk the
Daring (That's you!) sets off on a dangerous rescue mission. The reason?
Daphne is your sweetheart and you're going to get married.
Well, Mordroc must have some reason for his purloinment of the princess,
and it's unreasonable and rather naive to believe that he would simply
hand her back to Dirk without a peep.
Which of course he doesn't - in fact, it is only Dirk's quick-witted cunning
that enables him to divert the warlock's magic onto the man himself, allowing
him to rescue his betrothed and sweep her back to the enchanted (surprise,
surprise) forest where they resume a life of happiness together.
No-one seems to live in towns in these games, do they? But it isn't that
easy. Mordroc had a sister, Mordread, and she's none too chuffed that her
sibling has been killed. Black magic runs in the Mor family it sems, and
Mordread swears to avenge the death of her brother by condemning Dirk and
Pricess Ms Dirk to the Vortex of Eternity, where they will never grow old
and never die. Hey, real punishment - we should introduce her to Walt Disney.
So the Vortex of Eternity it is then, and again it's up to Dirk to perform
the suitably heroic deeds that will free him and the missus from this terrible
The game is split into 20-odd levels, which are actually only single
animated sequences, so packed with colour, detail and effects that it takes
about half a dozen disks to fit them all in.
Dirk is faced with a problem in each sequence, related to the trouble conjured
up by Mordread, which he must obviously solve in order to progress.
Having booted up the machine and loaded the game, I was absolutely
gobsmacked by the brilliant animation of Don Bluth (last seen in Guy Spy, for
the curious among you) that virtually leapt out of the screen at me. My God!
This was going to be brilliant.
Or so I thought. As it transpires, the gamer is not in total control of Dirk
in true arcade style - there are a limited number of moves he can make, and
instead of initiating the action you must take note of what happens around you
and respond to it.
Unfortunately, and quite unbelievably, your responses are limited not only in
terms of movement but also in terms of teh time at which they must be carried
Whereas pushing back on the joystick of keys would normally - obviously - move
your character backwards, Dragon's Lair for some reason insists that your move
is carried out at the exact time the programmers intended it, otherwise Dirk will
simply not respond.
The obvious moves are not always the correct ones to make, and even if you do
choose correctly, then unless it's timed just right you'll lose a life, and may
quite reasonably think that you make an incorrect choice.
If this sounds laboured I apologise, but unless you have actually experienced the
frustration of this, as I have, then it's difficult to understand just how
ridiculously unplayable the whole thing is, which is a real shame as the
presentation is absolutely superb.
Dragon's Lair 3 resembles a high class running animation demo more than a game,
but even as such is rendered close to useless because of the difficulty in
accessing the later levels.
After being treated to the stunning level of detail, I am genuinely disappointed
by this game - as it offers nothing in the way of gameplay and is far too
expensive to purchase just as an animation package.
If the playability came even remotely close to the presentation then Dragon's
Lair 3 would be a worthy winner of a Gamer Gold - as it is, unless you
desperately need to see some beautiful animation and have plenty of cash to
space, I just can't see any reason to buy it, which is sad.
Vision: 5/5. Unequalled. Brilliant.
Audio: 5/5. Again - stunning in every respect.
Playability: 1/5. An absolute nightmare to play.
Addiction: 1/5. The brilliance of the graphics made me persevere a little.