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Happy 30th Anniversary To The First Laserdisc Game, Dragon’s Lair!

Cinematronics

Thirty years ago, history was made when the very first laserdisc game was released. It was called Dragon’s Lair.

Today we have the X-Box and Playstations, but in 1983, video games were low-resolution, 8-bit wonders that resided in big cabinets that claimed many a kid’s quarter. During that summer, I worked two jobs: Disk jockey at a local radio station and coin-monkey at a local video game arcade. I remember how fascinated I was with DL because the graphics were amazing for the time and the fact that the game used a laser to read the program data.

“Dragon’s Lair: The fantasy adventure where you become a valiant knight, on a quest to rescue the fair princess from the clutches of an evil dragon. You control the actions of a daring adventurer, finding his way through the castle of a dark wizard, who has enchanted it with treacherous monsters and obstacles. In the mysterious caverns below the castle, your odyssey continues against the awesome forces that oppose your efforts to reach the Dragon’s Lair. Lead on, adventurer. Your quest awaits!” – Dragon’s Lair

Cimematronics

Just a few years before that, Taito released Space Invaders, the classic video game that kick started the video game arcade boom. The graphics were simple but the game play was challenging. Then Atari released Asteroids. Again the graphics were primitive but the play fun. This trend went on until 1983 when a game appeared in arcades that seemed light years ahead of the rest. It was called Dragon’s Lair.

Dragon’s Lair was developed by Cinematronics that used groundbreaking technology and animation that was immediately recognizable as that of 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. - Wikipedia

YouTube

The fact that it had pretty sexy imagery near the end of the game, didn’t hurt it’s popularity with young teenage boys either.

Even today the game endures with a repackaged program available for the iPhone. Dragon’s Lair is only one of three video games, along with Pac Man and Pong, on display at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

Thirty years on, video games are still pushing the development of technology. Where do you think we will be in another 30?

Watch the Dragon’s Lair complete gameplay:

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