Dragon’s Lair: The Legend is a 1991 platform game for the Nintendo Game Boy, developed by Motivetime and published by Elite Systems in Europe and Sony Imagesoft in North America.
Bizarrely, the game is a remake of the classic 1985 ZX Spectrum game Roller Coaster, but with Dragon’s Lair-style graphics and sound effects. Which is not a bad thing because Roller Coaster is a great game.
That said: Dragon’s Lair: The Legend does feel like a very old school video game. You of course control Dirk the Daring who can walk and climb through parts of the scenery by moving left and right and by jumping. Falling onto anything lethal (into water, or onto mine cart tracks) will immediately lose you a life, although falling onto spikes will only sap your energy (you at least can leap away from these hazards). Dirk has no weapon and there are no enemies or bosses in the game – it’s purely a platform survival game with the focus on collecting ‘life stones’. There are 194 life stones in total and Dirk receives an extra life for every 42 life stones he collects. Frustratingly, though, there’s no way to actually see how many lives you have left, how much energy you have, or how many life stones you’ve collected, until you actually lose a life. Which is a bit of an oversight. A life bar, at least, would have been useful.
The game is divided into eleven distinct regions, covering themes from the famous Dragon’s Lair arcade game, and some screens are larger than the display area of the Game Boy screen so they scroll to accommodate this.
Dragon’s Lair: The Legend can be played in either fast or slow mode and the background music can be switched off, leaving just sound effects. There’s a high score table, with name entry, and that’s about it for features. If you’re playing the game for the first time I recommend playing in slow mode.
The European and North American versions of Dragon’s Lair: The Legend have some differences between them. There’s no fall damage in the European version, but you’ll lose a life if you fall too far in the North American version. There are also a number of differences in the layout of some screens. In general, the North American version is more difficult, which is probably why the game received mostly negative reviews in the US when it was first released, and the European released was generally praised. The version I’m showing here is the European version.
While Dragon’s Lair: The Legend won’t appeal to everyone, it is still a challenging and equally fun and frustrating game to play nowadays. And you’ll especially like it if you enjoyed the Spectrum game Roller Coaster. Be warned, though: it is very difficult in places, and it’s worth knowing that there are sometimes multiple paths through a screen, if you explore a little. Collecting every life stone, though, is a tough task.