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Arcade: Action
ZX Spectrum 48K

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Chris Bourne

Remember the first interactive video machine from the arcades? Well, here's the game, adapted for the Spectrum.

Singe, the dragon with bad breath, has been a naughty boy again. He wants a piece of the action in good King Aethelred's patch in fact he wants the whole pie. Naturally the king, and all his subjects over whom he rules with peace and enlightenment, are not too keen on big old Bad Breath moving in. but Dragon's aren't brought up to understand the word 'no': their mummies always spoil them. And so they develop antisocial habits, like making off with the king's daughter should lone annoy them.

Singe has picked a bad place for a fight, for the King's daughter happens to be betrothed to the local macho dimbo, Dirk the Daring. Dirk, the King's champion, is always dashing around doing valiant things. Now whilst you or I might just nip down the 'local,' on hearing the news that your other half is about to become a late night dragon snack, old Dirk straps on his sword and trudges off to Singe's lair to do battle with the horrors that await him.

There are nine screens to the game, and each has to be loaded from cassette in turn an Opus drive version is also available for a little extra money. If you run out of lives, then the tape has to be rewound and things start back on level one. Each level takes about 30 seconds to load from tape.

Section one features Dirk descending into the dank depths on a falling disk. Singe's Air Genies try to blow Dirk off so he plunges to his doom. Dirk must quickly react to which direction the Genie is blowing from and run into the wind.

Next comes the hallway. Timing is everything here, dainty footwork and nifty swordplay are the only way to avoid the bats and the clutching hands.

Next come the flaming ropes. Leaping from platform to rope to rope, timing the jumps to catch the ropes. But speed is a must or the ropes bum away before Dirk has done his stuff. Then comes the weapons room. Again it's a question of well timed moves. After this comes the attack of the Giddy Goons. An extra key has to come in to play, as Dirk needs to jump from step to step and despatch the Goons at the same time.

Next comes the tentacle room where some of Singe's early mistakes in meanie making still hang out. Once again, timing is the key. The right move has to be made at precisely the right time. Then it's falling disk time again. Once more it's a question of reacting to the odd meanie breaking wind.

Now things get really tricky. A battle to the death with Singe's evil Lieutenant, the phantom knight on a checkerboard suspended in space. Each time the knight appears, he turns more of the checkerboard into a deadly trap…

After all that, Dirk finally makes it to the Dragon's lair, and then has to dodge from rock to rock, hiding from Singe's flaming breath, while helping himself to the odd bit of treasure he finds. By edging along a thin precipice, Dirk picks up a magic sword and slays the dragon, and trees Princess Daphne.

Or that's the theory...


'Well, this is quite a faithful adaptation of the arcade game, and thus suffers from most of its weaknesses - sadly it retains few of the original's strengths. The graphics, whilst good, are hardly video disk quality, but the single screen format of the game means there's very little actual gameplay, most of it is just very accurate positioning and incredibly accurate timing. It is frustrating without being addictive. That, coupled with having to load every screen from tape makes this a game I'll not be coming back to regularly'

'If you were an avid Dragon's Lair player in the arcades then stay well away from this as it bears little resemblance to the original. Having said that, for your first few goes the game looks quite promising. In fact I finished the first level (and what a hard slog it was too!) then I discovered the Multiload which took all the fun out of playing the game. The graphics are on the whole very good - lovely large characters that move around smoothly and some very nice scenery. Sound-wise this offers less than many of MASTERTRONIC budget titles with only a mere sprinkling of spot effects. I can't really recommend this as I didn't really have any fun playing it.'

'Everyone I know, who has played the arcade version of Dragon's Lair, has gone 'rave, rave, rave' about it at some lime. The Spectrum version, while remaining true to the arcade on lots of counts, still lacks an element of playability, which makes it unaddictive. I suppose the difficulty level is one of the game's prime factors, as a game like this with such a high price tag has to justify that by the length of time spent playing, which, I must confess, in my case, wasn't very long.'

Control keys
Joystick: Kempston, Interface 2
Keyboard play: rather tricky
Use of colour sparing, but tasteful
Graphics: pretty, with neat animation
Sound: not much
Skill levels: one
Screens: nine
General Rating: Pretty, but lacking in gameplay.


Screenshot Text

Oh dear. Dirk's done it now. Falling of the edge of his platform, he does the plumetting this time!

Dirk the Daring dances on an plumetting platform while the bad guy tries to blow him away, literally.