The Nerd: Once again, let's go back to 1983. You walk into a video arcade and what do you see? Games that look like this, ("Mario Bros.") or this, ("Pac-Man") or this? ("Dragon's Lair") Yeah. Sure got everybody's attention, and it really stuck out amongst all the other games. This was Dragon's Lair, the adventures of Dirk the Daring, who has to rescue a princess from a dragon. It was more like an interactive movie than a video game.
The Nerd: Basically, you just watch the cartoon play, and when a certain obstacle would appear, then you press the right button at the right time and see whether you die or you continue playing. Now, the first time playing, there was no way to know what was going to happen. So the only way players would learn was to keep putting quarters in the machine. And once you've spent like a truckload of quarters and you knew how to go through the whole game, then you could pretty much beat it every time after that and just show off to everybody.
The Nerd: So while there wasn't much to the gameplay, it was groundbreaking in the fact that it was one of the first games to use a laserdisc, making the use of motion video, and featured animation by Don Bluth, who prior to Dragon's Lair was known for his work with Disney on features such as Robin Hood, The Rescuers and Pete's Dragon. Many games of its kind would follow, some of which were adapted on the home CD consoles, such as Time Gal and Road Avenger, which I mentioned in my Sega CD review.
The Nerd: Now, many adaptations of Dragon's Lair would appear on several home consoles, but the one that I'm going to play is the NES version. Now, how could you put this (motion video) into this? (NES cartridge) Yeah, so obviously, an NES game is technically incapable of handling this sort of motion video thing. So, what do you know? It's a side-scroller. And after all, that's what games on the 8-bit Nintendo system were best at. So, how could you go wrong? Well, judging from all the requests I got to review this game, I'm going to pop it in and find out.
The Nerd: Alright, my first impression is that the graphics are quite good for the NES and the character animation's well detailed. But the controls are delayed beyond belief. (Dirk crumbles into a skeleton when he hits the door) Did I just die by walking into the fucking door?! Yeah. Everything kills you. Literally. EVERYTHING. Even if you stop to jump, you end up falling through the bridge.
The Nerd: Okay, I'm going to try to kill this bat. (Dirk turns into a skeleton) And there I go. Dead. Here I go! (Dirk turns into a skeleton again) Dead again.
The Nerd: If you hit Down, you go into a crawling mode. Of course, it's extremely delayed, making it awkward to switch between standing and crawling. Oh, I'm really fucked now. Jump! JUMP! Well, we already know we can't go through the door, so I'm going to assume you got to kill the dragon. But what the asshole? Why can't I duck? I just want to duck down and throw my daggers at the dragon, but no! It doesn't let you duck. Have you ever played a game where the basic controls differ depending on which side of the screen you're standing on?
The Nerd: So I'm going to try and make my way to the left just so I can attack the dragon. (Dirk barely avoids a fireball from the dragon) Wow! That was close. Okay, c'mon, duck! (Dirk crumbles to bones) SHIT!
The Nerd: Alright, here we go, duck down. Kill the dragon. (Dirk crumbles to a skeleton) SON OF AN ASS! I'm getting real fucking mad now - why does the gate stay open the whole time, but once you're within range, it comes down? What a tease! How the Hell does the fucking thing kill you, anyway? I don't care if it's a door or a medieval gate, whatever the Hell it is, it's certainly not an electrical fence or something, so, why's it, like, deadly to the touch? The rules of this game make no sense! What were they thinking?! (The door might actually be poisoned.)
The Nerd: Another problem is that the dragon doesn't come up high enough to be able to hit with your dagger, unless you're squatting, but when you're squatting, the dragon stays below the bridge. It literally reacts to your every move. So what do you do? Do you stand? Do you duck? Either way, you're fucked. The decisions to make in the game are similar to if, say you're standing in a pool full of piss all the way up to your neck, then somebody comes in with a bucket of shit to dump on your head. Do you duck down under the piss, or do you just stay up and take on the shit?
The Nerd: This game is like a cruel joke that you play on your friends. It's like: "Hey! Do you wanna play a game? Here you go! You fuckers!" And you know, it really doesn't look that hard. But once you actually play it, it's unbelievable. You jump like you're on the goddamn moon, it takes ages to turn around, and the control is so stiff, you'll wonder if your fucking controller's broken. However, I've heard that the PAL version is much smoother. I might have saved myself a few hundred e-mails by mentioning that.
The Nerd: Now, unlike most NES games where B attacks and A jumps, this one's the opposite which takes some time to get used to. I mean, what's with this backwards-ass bullshit? But you know what's really sad? This is the first screen in the game. I haven't even gotten past the first screen yet! I don't even want to know what the rest of the game is like. Maybe you're just supposed to walk left. (Dirk tries to go to the left, but he is blocked) No. Actually, if that was the case, I'd think I'd have to break something.
The Nerd: Now do you know what else is bullshit? Everything kills you with only one hit. The dragon, the fireball, the moat, the DOOR, but the bat just takes away a tiny bit of life from... (The bat knocks a point off Dirk's health bar) your life bar. Yeah, that's right. You have a life bar. I didn't even notice, but what's the point, because everything that hits you, it kills you instantly! I can guarantee that the only way you're going to die from this bat is if you just stand absolutely still and just wait. I've clocked it. It takes 1 minute and 13 seconds for this bat to drain your energy. That's 11 hits. Well, why 10 when it can take 11?
The Nerd: So in order to pass this part of the game, you gotta kill the dragon. And it seems that there's only one possible spot where you can hit him. That's from the far left, where you start. But the dragon won't come out until you're halfway across the bridge. So you gotta make your way to the dragon, then jump your way back, and then, you can just barely hit the dragon, even from this distance. You just wish you could duck and hit him, but as we already know, that doesn't work because the fucking bastard won't stay up! So you just have to be real patient and keep throwing the daggers. When he spits the fireballs, you gotta duck well in advance and just keep repeating. Of course, you die with only one hit, but the dragon takes forever!
The Nerd: This game is notorious among gamers as being one of the most frustrating games in existence. At some time or another, it seems everyone takes a shot at it. And after this review, I'm sure many more people will suffer over it, which is unfortunate, but to quote Full Metal Jacket: "It's just one big shit sandwich, and we all gotta take a bite."
(The actual quote from "Full Metal Jacket" is: "It's a huge shit sandwich, and we're all gonna have to take a bite.")
The Nerd: (manages to kill the dragon) So, finally, the dragon's dead, the door goes up, and now you've got one last obstacle. Just don't fall. Oh God, DON'T fall. Not after that.
The Nerd: Alright, finally, we get to see something different. Now, your first obstacle here are these rocks that come flying at you. FUCK! Now, once you remember the pattern, you can get by, but then this snake comes up out of nowhere. DAMN!
The Nerd: You know, this whole game is all about trial and error. The only way to get through it is to memorize every thing that happens. And, once again, I'd like to stress, what's the point of having an energy bar when everything kills you with one hit?! ONE! FUCKING! HIT!
The Nerd: Now this is the worst. Just gotta watch the pattern. Up, down, up, down, up- (Dirk crumbles to a skeleton) FUCK! Oh, God! ("Game Over" screen appears) Oh, Game Over? Oh no. No, please, no.
(The Nerd is back at the beginning of the game. The Nerd stares at the screen in disbelief, then he drinks out of his flask.)
The Nerd: Man. Man, fuck that shit. Man, DO YOU THINK I'M GOING TO PUT MYSELF THROUGH THAT AGAIN?! GODDAMMIT, MAN!!
(Pretends to shoot fingers, leaving only middle finger, which he flashes)
The Nerd: MAN, FUCK THIS GAME, MAN! MAN JESUS CHRIST, I'D RATHER... FUCKING... 69 A GRIZZLY BEAR WHILE SHOVING KING KONG UP MY ASS! I'D RATHER FUCKING STAND IN THE MIDDLE OF A RING OF MONKEYS AS THEY PELT ME TO DEATH WITH THEIR OWN ANAL WASTE! MAN, FUCK THIS GAME, FUCK IT TO HELL, FUCK IT TO OBLIVION, FUCK IT TO DAMNATION OF MANKIND!
(He gets up angrily, then the door closes and the Nerd tries to walk through it, but dies like in the game, being reduced to a pile of bones.)
- The door might actually be poisoned, which is why you die when you touch it.
- The Nerd made a mistake in saying a line from Full Metal Jacket, when the real line is: "It's a huge shit sandwich, and we're all gonna have to take a bite."