In theory, at least, Dragon's Lair seems like a perfect match for the Kinect. Freed of the constraints of a gamepad, you can act out Dirk's simple movements for yourself, jumping left as he dodges a snake to the right, or moving forward as he tries to wiggle through a hole in a rapidly closing wall. When it's time to stab at Singe, you battle him with a slashing motion of your arm. Unfortunately, it's those very moments that give Dragon's Lair so much trouble. Since so much of the game hinges on the speed of your responses, the time it takes to get back into place after a strafe to the left often leaves you in a bad spot when you need to strafe back to the right.
The slashing motions fare even worse because they don't always register. This Kinect mode compensates for such troubles by introducing optional directional indicators and allowing for occasional slips, but all in all it only adds to the frustration of an already unforgiving game. Gameplay gets even more frustrating in the local cooperative mode, which requires you to switch players every time the other player dies. And since Dirk has a nasty habit of dying every 10 seconds or so, the experience is more of a hassle than it's worth.
You might find some additional replay value in the multiple difficulty modes that strip the gameplay of its prompts or limit how many continues Dirk has after dying (in other words, making it closer to the 1983 arcade gameplay), but even then you'll probably master each within an hour. Leaderboards for the Kinect and gamepad modes foster some sense of competition, but Dragon's Lair is not the type of game that you'll set aside days or weeks for in an attempt to dominate the lists.
As a small bonus, this version lets you sit back and watch Dirk's adventures as an animated short if you're tired of tripping over yourself with the Kinect or missing cues on the gamepad. It's a welcome addition, since focusing on the necessary moves often means you can't fully appreciate the animation for itself unless you're watching someone else play. At the very least, it's useful as a walkthrough if you're having trouble on the promptless hard mode. Bluth's animation is as impressive as ever, although seeing it stripped of the gameplay only highlights the limits of the sound design. Aside from Dirk's shrieks of terror and some musical cues signaling a successful execution of a room, the only noteworthy sound file is the ditzy voice of Daphne explaining how to vanquish Singe.
Dirk's expression makes much more sense once you see what Daphne looks like.
Today, Dragon's Lair is little more than a historical curio. It takes barely more than half an hour to complete the game on its hardest modes, and a dedicated player could probably complete each achievement inside of five hours. The Kinect support is novel but ultimately more frustrating than the standard gamepad gameplay. In the end, you're better off finding a modern game with occasional QTEs scattered throughout its levels and smirking at your awareness of where such sequences evolved from.
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