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Dragon's Lair

Serial 01910
Cinematronics, 1983

Dragon’s Lair was the first widely released arcade game to use the state-of-the-art Laserdisc player.  (It helps if you say “Laserdisc” like Dr. Evil with finger quotes).  Instead of pixellated graphics, Dragon’s Lair displays smooth, hand-drawn animation, like a cartoon.  As the scene plays, the player is required to make a timely decision by moving the stick or pressing a button.  This causes Dirk the Daring to either advance to the next scene, or to a sometimes-gruesome death sequence!

The animation in Dragon’s Lair came from Don Bluth Productions.  Don had left Disney to form his own studio, which also produced The Secret of NIMH and The Land Before Time.

To save money on production, no voice actors were hired for Dragon’s Lair.  Instead, they used employees of the studio.  Also, instead of using live models for inspiration, the animators of Dragon’s Lair used images from Playboy magazine.  The result was Princess Daphne, who created some controversy, as some felt she was too sexy to appear in a videogame. 

Upon it’s release in 1983, Dragon’s Lair was so popular that arcade operators thought it would save the entire industry.  It didn’t, of course.  The arcades were made obsolete by the introduction of the home gaming console.