Dragon's Lair is a laserdisc video game published by Cinematronics in 1983. It featured animation created by 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.
The success of the game sparked numerous home ports, sequels and related games. In the 21st century it has been repackaged in a number of formats (such as for the iPhone) as a "retro" or historic game.
It is currently one of only three video games (along with Pong and Pac-Man) on permanent display at the Smithsonian Institution inWashington, D.C.
Dragon's Lair initially represented high hopes for the then-sagging arcade industry, fronting the new wave of immersive laser disc video games. A quote from Newsweek captures the level of excitement displayed over the game: "Dragon's Lair is this summer's hottest new toy: the first arcade game in the United States with a movie-quality image to go along with the action... The game has been devouring kids' coins at top speed since it appeared early in July. Said Robert Romano, 10, who waited all day in the crush at Castle Park without getting to play, "It's the most awesome game I've ever seen in my life." Arcade operators at its release reported long lines, even though the game was the first video arcade game to cost 50 cents. Operators were also concerned, however, that players would figure out its unique predefined game play, leading them to "get the hang of it and stop playing it." By July 1983, 1000 machines had been distributed, and there were already a backlog of about 7,500. By the end of 1983 Electronic Games and Electronic Fun were rating Dragon's Lair as the number one video arcade game in USA, while the arcade industry gave it recognition for helping turn around its 1983 financial slump. Dragon's Lair received recognition as the most influential game of 1983, to the point that regular computer graphics looked "rather elementary compared to top-quality animation". By February 1984, it was reported to have grossed over $32 million for Cinematronics. One element of the game that was negatively received was the blackout time in between loading of scenes, which Dyer promised would be eliminated by the forthcoming Space Ace and planned Dragon's Lair sequel. By the middle of 1984 however, after Space Ace and other similar games were released to little success, sentiment on Dragon's Lair's position in the industry had shifted and it was being cited as a failure due to its expensive cost for a game that would "lose popularity". In 2001, GameSpy ranked Dragon's Lair as #7 on the list of "Top 50 Arcade Games of All-Time".
Dirk was received by reviewers as a character, who felt "unlike some video game heroes, Dirk's personality has a comic, human side to it." Princess Daphne received mixed reception. Often cited as one of the most attractive characters in video game history, as well as being one of the key damsels in distress in video games, she also received mixed reactions for her ditsy voice and her half-naked appearance. Bluth described Daphne by stating "Daphne's elevator didn't go all the way to the top floor, but she served a purpose," a fact panned by critics of the game who perceived it to be violent and sexist. In 2009, Singe was ranked 93rd in IGN "Top 100 Videogames Villains".