Dragon’s Lair Demo – on a Sinclair ZX81!

Dragon's LairDragon’s Lair blew my mind in 1983 as one of the new wave of laserdisc videogames. It was the second one I’d played, in the arcade next to the Odeon on Oxford Road in Manchester, after Sega’s Astron Belt, an on-rails shoot-em-up with the game playing over the footage delivered from the laserdisc.

This game, however, presented individual scenes to you, in which there was only one correct path through, so if you went left instead of right, or didn’t kill a baddie with your sword at the right moment, you suffered an occasionally gross – and always painful – death.

Released by Cinematronics, you play as Dirk the Daring, a knight trying to rescue Princess Daphne from the evil dragon Singe, who’s imprisoned her in the castle owned by evil wizard Mordroc. Animation was provided by Don Bluth, and I played this on a regluar basis as I used to go in the arcade every Saturday for some time, with my Dad, after we went for lunch in the fried chicken shop nearby. Neither of these places are there any more – same for the Odeon, although that’s now bigger and is in the Printworks (and it has the second largest IMAX screen in Europe).

A sequel, Dragon’s Lair II: Timewarp, was released in 1991.

So there’s plenty of technology involved in its creation, but Dragon’s Lair is coming back… and it’s on a Sinclair ZX81! Yes, you heard right. And it’s been coded by ex-Ocean programmer Jim Bagley (Cabal, Midnight Resistance, Hudson Hawk), who also appeared on the excellent videogames documentary, From Bedrooms To Billions, which is out now on Blu-ray, DVD and download. This demo looks like an incredible achievement.

Check out the Dragon’s Lair demo video below and click on the poster for the full-size Daphne image… go on, you know you want to: