Dragon's Lair

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Dragon's Lair
Dragons lair.jpg
Dragon's Lair promotional poster
Genres Fantasy, animation
Publisher(s) Cinematronics
Creator(s) Rick Dyer
Don Bluth
Artist(s) Don Bluth
Writer(s) Rick Dyer
Platforms LaserDisc
Nintendo Entertainment System
Super Nintendo Entertainment System
Mega CD/Sega CD
Philips CD-i
Nintendo DSi
Personal computer
Commodore Amiga
Platform of origin Laserdisc video game
Year of inception June 23, 1983
First release Dragon's Lair
Spin-offs Escape from Singe's Castle
Dragon's Lair (1990 video game)
Dragon's Lair II: Time Warp
Dragon's Lair III: The Curse of Mordread
Dragon's Lair 3D: Return to the Lair

Dragon's Lair is a video game franchise that began with the laserdisc video game Dragon's Lair originally released for the arcades in 1983.[1]


  • Dragon's Lair is a laserdisc video game published by Cinematronics in 1983.[2] In the game, the protagonist Dirk the Daring is a knight attempting to rescue Princess Daphne from the evil dragon Singe who has locked the princess in the foul wizard Mordroc's castle. It featured animation by ex-Disney animator Don Bluth. Most other games of the era represented the character as a sprite, which consisted of a series of pixels displayed in succession. Due to hardware limitations of the era, artists were greatly restricted in the detail they could achieve using that technique; the resolution, framerate, and number of frames were severely constrained. Dragon's Lair overcame those limitations by tapping into the vast storage potential of the LaserDisc but imposed other limitations on the actual gameplay. The success of the game sparked numerous home ports, sequels, and related games. In the 21st century, it has been repackaged in a number of formats (such as for the iPhone) as a "retro" or historic game. It is currently one of only three video games (along with Pong and Pac-Man) in storage at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.[3]
  • Escape from Singe's Castle, also known as Dragon's Lair Part II - Escape From Singe's Castle is a 1987 video game published by Software Projects for the Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64 and ZX Spectrum home computers. Later, Readysoft made the Amiga, Atari ST, and PC versions. The game is sometimes referred to as Dragon's Lair II but is not to be confused with the official arcade sequel Dragon's Lair II: Time Warp.
  • Dragon's Lair is a 1990 platform game developed by MotiveTime and published by CSG Imagesoft in North America, Elite Systems in Europe and Epic/Sony Records in Japan for the Nintendo Entertainment System. Its plot is identical to that of the original game.
  • Dragon's Lair: The Legend is a 1991 platform game developed by Elite Systems and published by CSG Imagesoft in North America, Elite Software in Europe and Epic/Sony Records in Japan for the Game Boy. This is actually a port of Elite's 1985 ZX Spectrum game Roller Coaster.
  • Dragon's Lair II: Time Warp is the first official sequel other than Escape from Singe's Castle. Released in 1991 by Leland Corporation, its story takes place years later. Dirk has married Daphne, and the marriage has produced several children. When Daphne is kidnapped by the evil wizard Mordroc in order to be forced into marriage, Dirk's children are clearly upset by the abduction of their mother, and Dirk must once again save her. Home ports of the game were announced for the Philips CD-i, 3DO Interactive Multiplayer, and Jaguar CD. However, only the CD-i version was actually released, though non-playable demos of the 3DO and Jaguar CD versions appear on those consoles' respective versions of Brain Dead 13. The game was later ported to the Wii as part of the compilation release Dragon's Lair Trilogy.
  • Dragon's Lair III: The Curse of Mordread was made for Amiga, Atari ST, and PC in 1993, mixing original footage with scenes from Time Warp that were not included in the original PC release due to memory constraints. The game also included a newly produced "Blackbeard the Pirate" stage that was originally intended to be in the arcade game but was never completed.[4]
  • Dragon's Lair is a 1993 platform game developed by MotiveTime and published by Data East in North America, Elite Systems in Europe and Konami in Japan for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. Its plot is identical to that of the original game.
  • Dragon's Lair 3D: Return to the Lair was developed in 2002, as a 3D interpretation of the game developed by Dragonstone Software and published by Ubisoft for Microsoft Windows, Xbox, GameCube and the PlayStation 2. It is based on the original Dragon's Lair and follows a similar story as Dirk must enter Mordroc's castle to rescue Princess Daphne from a dragon. Many of the characters and locations from the 1983 original make appearances in the game, along with new puzzles, rooms, and enemies. The game uses cel shading to mimic the distinctive style of the original. Bluth produced two new animated sequences for the opening and ending of the game.
  • In 2005, Digital Leisure created a new Dragon's Lair III which utilized 3D footage from Dragon's Lair 3D but controlled via a system like the original arcade games.

Dragon's Lair also led to the creation of 1984's Space Ace, another game animated by Don Bluth and his crew. Space Ace was also a ROM and disc upgrade kit for the Dragon's Lair cabinets, complete with new control panel overlay, side art, and header.


Dirk the Daring[edit]

Dirk the Daring is the main protagonist of the first game and subsequent franchise. As a knight of the kingdom, Dirk was entrusted with the rescue of Princess Daphne from Mordroc and Singe because all other knights were killed. He becomes heir to the throne upon saving Princess Daphne; following her rescue, Dirk and Daphne are married. In both games, Dirk is voiced by sound editor Dan Molina. Retro Gamer included him on their list of top 50 game characters in the category "Top Ten Forces of Good" and called him "without a doubt, the epitome of the heroic knight."[5]

Princess Daphne[edit]

In the games, Princess Daphne is the beautiful daughter of King Aethelred and an unnamed queen. She serves as the series' damsel in distress, a beautiful maiden coveted by many princes and knights, her heart belongs to the kingdom's champion, Dirk the Daring.[6][7]


The game led to the creation of a short-lived television cartoon series, Dragon's Lair by Ruby-Spears Productions, where Dirk the Daring was voiced by Bob Sarlatte and the unseen storyteller that narrates each episode is voiced by Clive Revill. Changes in the TV series included the originally nameless Dragon being given the name Singe (voiced by Arthur Burghardt), Princess Daphne (voiced by Ellen Gerstell) now wore a long pink dress, and included some exclusive characters like Princess Daphne's father King Ethelred (voiced by Fred Travalena), Dirk the Daring's horse Bertram (vocal effects provided by Peter Cullen), Dirk the Daring's squire Timothy (voiced by Michael Mish), and Dirk the Daring's rival Sir Hubert Blunt (voiced by Peter Cullen). Several enemies from the original game also make their appearance as adversaries, such as the Lizard King, the Phantom Knight, the Giddy Goons, and the Mudmen. Thirteen half-hour episodes were produced and aired on the ABC network from September 8, 1984, to April 27, 1985. It was last aired on the USA Cartoon Express between the late '80s and the early '90s. The show was generally run of the mill but boasted an unusual feature: to keep the show in the spirit of the game, before each commercial break the storyteller would ask what the viewer would do to solve the problem facing Dirk. After the commercial break, the outcomes of the various choices were shown before Dirk acts on the correct idea (with the occasional exception) to save the day. Don Bluth had no involvement in the TV series.

A comic book miniseries based on the game, but incorporating elements from the cartoon series as well, like Dirk's horse Bertram, was released in 2003 by CrossGen, concurrent with a miniseries based on Space Ace. Arcana Studio published the entire comic book series in 2006, as there were three issues that were previously unpublished.


In the 1980s a film version of Dragon's Lair was planned, with Alan Dean Foster involved in shaping the story. The project fell apart due to low interest from other studios.[8]

On October 26, 2015, Bluth and Goldman started a Kickstarter campaign to create a teaser for an animated feature-length Dragon's Lair prequel film, their first feature film since Titan A.E.[9] The Kickstarter funding was canceled when not enough funds were made close to the deadline, but an Indiegogo page for the project was created in its place.[10] On December 14, 2015, the Indiegogo campaign reached its goal of $250,000 to produce a teaser, 14 days after the campaign launched, and got more than twice the budget on January 16, 2016.[10][11] Bluth and Goldman have announced that the film will provide more backstory for Dirk and Daphne and that Daphne will show that she is not a "blonde airhead".[12]


  1. ^ "Review: 'Dragon's Lair' returns on Blu-ray Disc". CNN.com. 2007-05-18. Retrieved 2016-03-15.
  2. ^ "Dragon's Lair". The International Arcade Museum. Retrieved 5 Oct 2013.
  3. ^ "History of Computing: Video games - Golden Age". Thocp.net. Retrieved 2011-08-14.
  4. ^ "Dragon's Lair Project Message Board". D-l-p.com. 2002-01-23. Retrieved 2011-08-14.
  5. ^ Retro Gamer 2, page 37.
  6. ^ "Amtix Magazine Issue 17". Archive.org. Retrieved 2014-06-13.
  7. ^ "Computer Gamer - Issue 18 (1986-09) (Argus Press) (UK)". Archive.org. Retrieved 2014-06-13.
  8. ^ Cawley, John. Games on TV and The Big Screen
  9. ^ "Dragon's Lair: The Movie (Canceled) by Don Bluth & Gary Goldman — Kickstarter". Kickstarter.com. Retrieved September 13, 2016.
  10. ^ a b "Dragons Lair Returns". Indiegogo.com. Retrieved September 13, 2016.
  11. ^ "Dragon's Lair creators turn to Kickstarter to raise money for Dragon's Lair: The Movie - Polygon". Retrieved September 13, 2016.
  12. ^ "Dragon's Lair Movie Won't Depict "Sexualized" Version of Princess Daphne - GameSpot". Retrieved September 13, 2016.

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