Saturday, April 21, 2007

Long Live Dirk!

Long before Dirk Diggler was swinging his sword around, another Dirk swung his in a game called Dragons Lair. In 1983, Disney threw its hat in the video game ring with the game called Dragons Lair. And then later, there was another called Space Ace. They weren't true video games, more like really cool choose your own adventures. If you're not familiar with them, the games consisted of a series of animated scenes and you had to navigate Dirk through them by moving your joystick one way or another. If you chose the right way, Dirk moved on in the story to save the princess. If you chose the wrong way, Dirk died a terrible death. And man, I dropped like a couple hunny in quarters easy playing those games.

Despite blowing away the competition (Pac Man, Asteroids and Donkey Kong) the games didn't last long. It was my understanding that the technology was too advanced. The machines were always breaking down and I think it cost too much to maintain them.

Well, Dirk is back on PS3. It has been announced that they will be relaunching the game Dragons Lair. They are going back to the old story, sweetening the animation by Don Bluth and re-releasing the game.

It will be interesting to see how people react to it since gaming has evolved so much since then. But for me, it's almost worth dropping the money on PS3 just to play it again.

correction: AMS and Cinematronics created Dragon's Lair. Not Disney. My bad.


Moviezzz said...

Disney didn't make the games, did they? Don Bluth had left Disney by then.

I remember the game quite well. Yet, I was never any good at it. I could never tell when you were supposed to move the joystick. And, I'd always get that animation of Dirk falling into the fiery pit.

I did get the game on DVD a few years ago. Just as difficult to play there.

pacheco said...

Darn, I was hoping you were talking about another Dirk, as in the Dallas Mavericks.

Anywho, I actually had Dragon's Lair for Sega CD (back then I always wondered if it was "Dragon's Lair" or "Dragon Slayer"). It actually went well in the Sega CD lineup, because a lot of those games were a "choose your own adventure" type (I remember Slam City was a basketball game where you had to time your movements to land when an arrow appeared on the video. I think I had a boxing game like this too).

Piper said...


You're right. Created by AMS and Cinematronics and Bluth's company. 22 total minutes of animation at a cost of 1.3 million.

This is a pretty cool site that talks about it.

Piper said...


So was the Sega CD stuff cool looking? Did it look like the game?

Piper said...

This would be a good time to use that little line that goes through words so that I could rewrite the correct information instead of Disney, only I don't know how to do that.

Damian said...

YES! YES! YES! See, once again, this is why I like you, Piper! Here I thought I was the only person in the world who remembered the arcade game Dragon's Lair (and it's sister game Space Ace) and I come on here and see the familiar sight of Dirk's befuddled face looking back at me.

I LOVED that game. I remember my family used to take us out to Chuck-E-Cheese's after church on Sunday and I spent all my time, not to mention coins, playing that particular game (I even made my dad bring in a video camera and point it at the screen while I played so I could re-watch it whenever I wanted). I also remember the short-lived Saturday morning cartoon, which Don Bluth had no involvement with (you could tell by the quality of the animation) though the show's main theme-by future Passion of the Christ composer John Debney-was pretty memorable. I could hum it even now.

Dirk was my hero for a couple years there (I had my mom sew me a Dirk-the-Daring costume for Halloween) and even as I got older I still had affection for that game such that I was actually excited by the release of the "sequel" Time Warp, even though by that time I was in high school.

As I look back on it now it becomes all to clear to me that Bluth and his animators were being satirical. Dirk is a parody of the stereotypically heroic knight-in-shining-armor and Princess Daphne is spoof of the sexy damsel in distress (My God, that outfit!). Somehow I couldn't help but feel that this discovery robbed me of somthing "pure" and "innocent" from my childhood while, at the same time, it created an even deeper appreciation for Bluth. He gave kids and grown-ups something to enjoy in Dragon's Lair (as he does in a lot of his work).

Don Bluth has long been one of my favorite animators (I think The Secret of NIMH and An American Tail deserve to be on any list of great animated films) and I always look forward to whatever his next project is. As it turns out, he has been trying, for the last several years, to get funding for a feature-length Dragon's Lair movie. All I have to say is: IT'S ABOUT DAMN TIME! In my opinion, it's long overdue!

Karen said...

Weren't they supposed to make a "Dragon's Lair" movie at one point? Anyone know what happened with that?

Guy said...

I also remember that they had a TV screen on top of the video game so people could watch you play. I dropped many quarters into the Dragon's Lair in my local Chuck E. Cheese. I think this game had the shortest playing time to cost ratio of all video games.

Piper said...


I think Don Bluth is still trying to make it happen.

Damian said...

Karen, Guy, Piper:

According to Bluth's website, they are still working on getting financing for the Dragon's Lair feature.