Eric continues his “vacation” from the site for one more week leaving his iTuesday segment in my hands this time around. Full disclosure; I’m not an iPhone gamer typically, hell I don’t even own one and had to borrow a phone for the sake of this review. This should be interesting.
I have to admit that I was previously unfamiliar with the Dragon’s Lair series, and I never played either of them in their original format. For those of you out there unfamiliar with the series like I was, Dragon’s Lair is essentially a short animated film. In both games you play as the hero Dirk, and in Dragon’s Lair II you must rescue Daphne while fighting your way through various eras and fantasy worlds.
The game is best described as an interactive animated movie, or in gaming terms, one giant quicktime event. You must time your movements along with the animation in order to reach the conclusion, or simply the next checkpoint. Basically, when the left arrow flashes you have a fraction of a second to press the left arrow so that Dirk can go left; failing to do so results in death and restarting at the last check point. The game accomplishes this with a small, semi-transparent d-pad on the screen with an additional button in the bottom left for your sword attack. All really quite simple.
The animation itself is top notch, especially the multitude of death animations. The small screen of the iPhone is clearly not the best way to experience Dragon’s Lair though, as much of it is blocked by the d-pad and most of the detail is lost. The end result is that you really can’t see much outside of the buttons, which is very unfortunate. There is an option to play the movie without having to play along once you’ve beaten the game; but there’s an issue with that.
I was never able to beat the game, although not for lack of trying. If you reach the end and you have not collected every special item it sends you back, the problem though was that I couldn’t collect at least one of the items no matter how hard I tried. It was unclear what button I was supposed to press (as it was with all the items) and even worse was the simple fact that I tried all of them multiple times and simply kept dying as a result. After nearly 20 minutes of trying to pick up a single item that would of finally allowed me to repeat almost half the game in an attempt to reach the end and hope I didn’t miss any other items on the way, I simply gave up. Fearing that the issue was with me rather than the game I took to the net to find out if I was alone. What I found was that in addition to this problem many other users had found that the game would state they didn’t have all the items when they did.
The game has other issues, mostly to do with the buttons being so small and so exact that I often found myself dying because the game didn’t recognize my pressing the button (having been the tiniest bit off). I fully admit this may be where not playing iPhone games often handicaps me, but what I do know is that I would often press the screen in what I thought was (and looked like) the right location only to die anyway.
In short, Dragon’s Lair II: Time Warp is a great concept, and I genuinely enjoyed the animation style but lost me in the execution. It would seem like a perfect fit on the iPhone but the small screen in particular interferes with how the game is meant to be played and the experience, which feels like it should be fantastic, ends up mediocre. To my understanding, the game is also compatible with the iPad and this feels like a title that would be much better suited to the larger screen size and better graphics it provides.
Final Rating: 7.5/10
CBR Break Down:
Console Played On: iPhone 3GS
Price Bought at: N/A – Review copy furnished by EA
Current Price: $2.99
Recommend Purchase Price: Watch for a sale.