Laserdisc. A format that didn’t exactly set sales records in the home movie sector or in arcade games (we won’t bring up the failed attempts at home console gaming out of respect for the early pioneers of alternative media). If there ever was a title that set that format on fire, at least for awhile, it was Dragon’s Lair by Cinematronics (drawn by ex-Disney animation creator, Don Bluth) which hit arcades with near broadcast quality animation in 1983, a time when most games consisted of blips and bleeps accompanied by colored squares onscreen.
Dragon’s Lair wasn’t perfect (though watching it sure did make most gamers want to bring it home) mainly because there wasn’t much of a “game” to actually play. Due to the way teh game operated players clicked a direction (up, down, left or right) and an action button to affect the action on the screen (it is possible to memorize the whole game, though harder than it looks). To bing in some variety to the limited interaction with the player, scenes in the game could randomly be mirrored to create more challenge for the experienced gamer.
It would be nearly a decade before we saw this type of game properly replicated in the home (we are not counting the Halcyon, too limited in userbase). The CD-i system, with Digital Video Cartridge, was arguably the first home console that could properly recreate the arcade game without grainy video or out of sync (due to dropped frames of animation) sound effects.
Today, Dragon’s Lair “arcade” has hit the major platforms of our day, and many from the past including the following (please note, we are not including the NES/Gameboy versions as those were obviously different games):
Amiga (rather framey version is available)
DOS (similar to the Amiga version)
3DO (who remembers this system?)
Atari Jaguar CD-Rom (yep, Atari tried to make a comeback)
Home DVD release (A LOT of FMV games were released in this format)
Next year, 2013, will mark the 30th Anniversary for Dragon’s Lair. To celebrate, there is a planned documentary in the works.