Thursday, 12 July 2012


No joy with Inferno. It's a shame because I actually did want to play it. I remember it well from games mags at the time, so I was keen to give it a go. I tried a few different install packages and tried installing in different locations, but nothing. I just kept getting a missing file error. Oh well, no use crying over broken games, it's on to the next series in my list...Dragon's Lair.

Like thousands of other people, Dragon's Lair wasa revelation to me when it first came out. My young eyes couldn't quite believe that such graphics were possible. Every other game at the time was still made of pixels the size of your fist, but Dragon's Lair was literally like playing a Don Bluth cartoon. Of course the actual game was horrendous, but it was almost worth that pain to see the next few frames of animation.

The PC version isn't quite as good in either respect. The graphics are nowhere near the level of the laser disc original (although they're still not bad for the time) and the gameplay is even worse, if such a thing is possible. In the arcade you saw a flash of light on the part of the screen you were supposed to move towards so you at least vaguely knew what you were supposed to be doing. Those hints are sadly absent from this version. That's not quite true, a couple of them are there, but not enough to get you through. Dragon's Lair is essentially one big Quick Time Event (QTE), but where in modern QTEs the button you're supposed to press will flash up on the screen, in the PC version of Dragon's Lair you've just got to guess which button you're supposed to press and when you're supposed to press it. As you can imagine, it's not easy. I mentioned that it's important when you press a button, and it is - you can't just hold a button down or mash it because the game keeps the commands in the keyboard buffer. If you hammer Left five times to make Dirk leap to the left over some lava, you'll then find that he continues trying to go left at the next intersection even though your finger is lodged squarely on the Up button. I guess it makes some kind of sense, but it's as annoying as hell. Of course, the problem was that I didn't know the game was doing this, I was just desperately mashing direction buttons trying to get Dirk to do something...anything, and all he'd do was fall to his doom. I couldn't make it past the second screen no matter how hard I tried. I only made it past the first screen because that's what plays on the rolling demo when the game starts up so I knew what I was supposed to do. In the second screen you find yourself in a flaming hallway with the tiles falling away beneath you. The top tiles fall away first, so the obvious thing is to jump down to the safety of the lower tiles. Easy, even I could work that out. Then a door opens to your left, so it must mean you have to jump over to your left? Death. Okay, how about jumping to the right to those other safe tiles? Death. Jumping down a bit more? Death. Drawing my sword to jam it into the side of the chasm and then flip over it and through the door? Death. Okay, I give up. The problem isn't just knowing which direction to go in, it's knowing exactly when to move, one step at the wrong time or in the wrong direction means...Death. Poor Dirk died so many times, over and over and over again. I found a playthrough on YouTube and tried to follow it. I still died multiple times, but I did at last make it off that second screen. What did I have to do? I had to jump up once to plant Dirk's feet on either side of the hole that opened up beneath him, then jump up again to launch Dirk into the air, and then I could finally hit Left to send Dirk through the open door. How the heck was anyone supposed to work that out. I wonder if anyone did manage it without a walkthrough at the time. Anyway, in some respects that was one of the hardest parts in the game - fighting the lizard king guy was equally tricky, as was making it up the final steps, but once you've dipped your toes into a walkthrough, it's impossible to turn back! I still died many, many times, but I finally made it through and rescued is she ugly in the PC version! Worse than Queen Slug-for-a-butt, this was Princess Slug-butt-for-a-face. Ah well, I guess it was worth it just to see the End screen and be able to turn it off. (NB: the image at the top is from the original...I couldn't find a good pic of the ugly Daphne, and I wasn't going to play through it again to get one.)

What's next? Oh, I forgot to mention that the animation from the original game was so big that they decided to cut it in half for the PC. The first Dragon's Lair PC game has you venturing into the castle to rescue Daphne, and the second has you escaping from it...with exactly the same gameplay, graphics and controls. AAAAAARRRRRGGGGHGHHHHH.

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