Manufacturer: Cinematronics
Released: 1983
Designer: Rick Dyer and Don Bluth
Added to my collection: May 12, 2013
Sold (To A Very Good Home): November 7, 2015


Dragon's Lair is not a good video game. It is a hybrid of an animated movie and a "choose your own adventure" book...except the book is ripped from your hands and thrown across the room every time you fail to turn the page fast enough.

Of course, nobody thought so when it hit the arcades in 1983.

It was a time when the arcades were becoming a bit stale. Although they were still popular--even as the home video game had begun to crash and burn--the game offerings were becoming less original and less exciting. Whereas a few years earlier a little extra animation or a few more colors on the screen were enough to evoke that wow factor from the players, by 1983 everyone had seen it all. (At least they thought so at the time.) Someone had to come up with something that would blow players away the moment they laid eyes on it.

Enter the laserdisc game. Laserdisc players weren't exactly commonplace home entertainment devices back in 1983--they were very expensive--but someone realized that, although they might never be the next big sensation in the home, they might be useful in arcade video games. The the fast seeking ability of the laserdisc could be controlled by the game, displaying high resolution, full-color movie scenes as either backgrounds for gameplay or as the gameplay itself. In a time when balls were still kind of squarish due to resolution limitations, laserdisc games (it was reckoned) would be HUGE. At least from a visual standpoint.

And it was true. The first time I saw a Dragon's Lair machine at Time-Out arcade in Golden Ring Mall near Baltimore, Maryland, I was in awe. I had no idea at the time that this was a bit of animated trickery. As far as I was concerned, that beautiful animation was a video game like any other. And it was awesome to behold.

The laserdisc game was, as it turned out, not the thing that would save arcades from the crash that had claimed the home video game industry. It wasn't long before players realized that the gameplay just wasn't equal to the beautiful graphics. But, there for a shining moment, laserdisc games were all the rage. And, 30 years later, they are still remembered fondly by those of us who remember the awe we had when we saw them for the first time.

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My Machine

When I started collecting classic arcade games, I had to make a choice between collecting games that I personally loved to play back in the day and collecting games that are "historically significant," I decided on the former. Space is limited, so if I'm going to have a game in my collection, it had to be one that I was going to play. As such, Dragon's Lair was never on my "A" list. It's definitely historically significant but, as I said earlier, it's simply not a good video game.

That said, I never turn down a good deal when it comes my way.

My friend Michael Nelson got into the video game and pinball collecting hobby because of me--he bought my Centipede machine a number of years ago. It started the sickness and, now, about every free inch of space in his basement is taken up by coin-op games. Mike picked up a non-working Dragon's Lair on Craigslist a couple of years ago for a song--the guy was asking $400, but took $150 since it wasn't working. The only problem turned out to be a dead laserdisc player (not an uncommon ailment in these games). MIke got a working laserdisc player on eBay for $100, and the game was up and running. A real bargain!

After about a year, though, he realized he wasn't playing the game much. Plus, he wants a virtual pinball machine, and there's just no space for it in his basement. So, when I (half-jokingly) asked when he was going to sell Dragon's Lair to me, I was surprised when he seemed interested in doing so. He only wanted what he had in the game even though I pointed out to him that he could have gotten a lot more on eBay. I actually nagged him to try eBay first, but he decided he'd rather know that it's going to a good home., I have a Dragon's Lair!


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Dragon's Lair Technical Info:

DIP switch settings:

Dragon's Lair DIP switch settings can be found at the the Dragon's Lair Project Dragon's Lair Tech Center.

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More Dragon's Lair Info:


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