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Dragon's Lair 1 logo

Price: £44.95

S Dragon's Lair 1 uspend your disbelief. These really are screenshots from an Amiga game. I think it is fair to say no-one thought this could be done, but Readysoft have come up with a faithful translation of the laserdisc arcade game. True, a few sections of the original have fallen by the wayside but by the large – and certainly where it counts - Dragon’s Lair does the business.

Starting out on the drawbridge, Dirk the Daring sets out to enter the castle to rescue Daphne, the girl from the Listerene advert. Dirk may not be the brightest of boys, but immediately we come to one of the most serious flaws of this game. Every time he tries to cross the drawbridge he falls down the hole in the middle. Your participation inDragon’s Lair is limited to the occasional move on the joystick. There are not many clues from the game to help you along and there is no feeling at all of real participation. That is the way it goes, right throughout the game. So you are left like one of Pavlov’s Dogs to fumble your way through the beautiful animation by trial and error.

I said it was a faithful translation and that applies to the awful gameplay. If the gaming equivalent of one player snap even deserves the term. It also faithfully translates the enormous price, so before you fall in love with what you see, remember you need a Meg cartridge and £45. It is not worth it, not even for a brilliant interaction cartoon – for that is what this is. I found it nothing less than irritating and nothing more than pretty.

Some of the scenes will astonish you – the chessboard scene, for example, which actually involves some playing – but you can only be amazed once. Then, of course, there is the other big problem – six discs and back to the start every time. Dirk gets knobbled. Readysoft are in no way to blame for this, anymore than they are for Dragon’s Lair’ wooden gameplay. Compressing 130 megabytes of sound and graphics into any game is an amazing achievement. That is what Dragon’s Lair is, but who wants to buy an amazing achievement. I would rather have a game if it is all the same to you.
Mark Heley

CU Amiga, March 1989, p.48


Third time lucky?

 Dragon's Lair 1 - Escape from Singe's Castle logo  Amiga Computing Excellence Award

H Dragon's Lair 1 - Escape from Singe's Castle AVE they got it right this time? Is it third time lucky for the Don Bluth crew? Perhaps the two previous games, Dragon’s Lair and Space Ace, were only practice runs. These were my fervent hopes as I unpacked the five Escape from Singe’s Castle discs.

First impressions? Sigh. In common with the other Don Bluth creations, gameplay is yet again, how shall I put it, sparse. Second impressions were of embarrassment – the joystick was not plugged in.
Try again. Ah, the joystick certainly makes a difference. Admittedly, gameplay is the same type of "move left now, move right then" as before, but the presentation has been markedly improved.
Now we have three difficulty levels, choice of number of lives, random order of scenes, up to five saved game positions and stone me if it all does not multi-task as well! Plus the invaluable "helper" which will appear on-screen and drop subtle hitns, such as when to wiggle in a certain direction.
The helper means you can advance quite far through the game before things start getting difficult. Combined with the difficulty levels, it means that both inexperienced gamers and hardened addicts will be able to get the skill level just right.

Yup, looks like this sequel to Dragon’s Lair might have pushed the gampelay to the dizzy heights of "quite enjoyable". For any normal game, a playability rating such as this would be so-so, but with the phenomenal graphics and sound of a Don Bluth production, this suddenly means that the Amiga versions are suspiciously starting to look like some of the best software ever written.
Of course, it would be nice to see more flexibility – the labyrinth sequence shows this is theoretically possible, because as Dirk the Drongo flails around a maze in search of an exit, you have total control of the direction to take.
This sequence can be played almost indefinitely until you either find the way out or poor Dirk takes a wrong turn and crashes into a wall. If the rest of the game allowed as much expression of free will it would be breathtaking.

This must be the most techie-friendly game I have yet to see, because it will run with floppy drives, hard drives (any make, unlike the prequel), and as much extra memory as possible. Plus, it will run on a bare minimum, one drive, 512k system.

Sound and certain animation sequences can be skipped to allow the game to be shoe-horned into your particularly setup, or to speed things up slightly by reducing the number of loads.
Basically, the more hardware you have connected to your Amiga, the better the game gets.

As an added bonus, you can incorporate your original Dragon’s Lair’s discs to form one staggeringly huge game. Now you can practice the levels in the original game which you never got past, and use the helper to provide vital clues.
If you sit down to play the entire combined epic, the random shuffling feature will produce one long, unique stunning performance. Deciding the ratings for software like this is always an interesting experience. Immediately it gets 15 for graphics because, quite simply, they are brilliant, astounding and generally good. Sound also gets a 15 because when Dirk walks up to a strange door he hums to himself and then gets attacled by a large monster; this sequence is one of the funniest things I have ever seen on the Amiga. It totally cracked me up.

Gameplay is the tricky one. It is not perfect by a long way, but the overall ease of use has been improved a great deal. I think I will be generous here, because at least it is getting better.
Value? Hmmm. That is where it all falls down. The price is steep and will only encourage Singe’s Castle to become the next number one pirated game, especially with the unprotected discs and relatively simple password system.
Make sure you see this game, it uses the Amiga in the way it was intended – to amaze.

John Kennedy

Amiga Computing, Volume 2, number 12, May 1990, p.p.50-51

Escape from Singe’s Castle
Sound 15 out of 15
Graphics 15 out of 15
Gameplay 10 out of 15
Value 10 out of 15
Overall - 85%

 Dragon's Lair 1 - Escape from Singe's Castle logo

Entertainment International
Price: £44.95

W Dragon's Lair 1 - Escape from Singe's Castle hat, another Don Bluth game? This one, actually has a surprise up its sleeve. Dragon’s Lair and Space Ace both featured excellent graphics and fantastic sound digitised from the laser disk arcade machines. However, the lack of gameplay reflected in the middling rating it received in the software, although this was by no means the case with the Gallup charts.

Singe’s Castle improves upon its forebears, though, with the aid of three difficulty levels and a small brown box. The first level is easy and only eight stages long. The small box at the bottom of the screen flashes up the appropriate joystick move a second or so before it is required. On this level it takes only about half an hour to go right through (although you do not get the finishing sequence). On the intermediate section there is fifteen stages and even less time to complete the moves (and no end sequence). The hard level has twenty stages and you need to be able to have remembered all the moves from the medium levels, and you need to have split second timing to complete the new sections which appear. More importantly, if you complete this you get the cartoon show at the end, which is well worth seeing.

This does wonders for the game. It manages to drag itself out of the swamp of mediocre software, brushes itself down and becomes quite presentable. The addition of difficulty levels, decent presentation and the little help box makes an amazing difference.

Naturally the graphics are very good indeed. The short animated sequences have to be seen to be appreciated. Unfortunately, the graphics lend call for an impromptu two player mode, one to play an done to goggle and say “Did you see that”. Again the sound is sampled straight from the arcade machine.
At last EI seem to have got the laser disk conversions pretty much of pat. All it takes is five disks, two drives and a meg to get everything running smoothly. Well worth checking out.
Mark Patterson

CU Amiga, April 1990, p.49

We reviewed Singe’s Castle with one megabyte and two drives. Although the amount of drives does not actually affect the gameplay the lack of memory expansion does. Unexpanded Amigas will not feature sound or some of the graphic effects and the marks would be lowered accordingly.


Dragon's Lair 1 - Escape from Singe's Castle logo

Empire, Amiga £44.95

Dragon's Lair 1 - Escape from Singe's Castle Dirk the Daring's last Amiga appearance saw him half way through his brave quest to rescue Princess Daphne. Now the second half of the Dragon's Lair coin-op has been coded and you can finish the task. The game begins with you deep in Singe's castle; the hideous dragon has hidden Daphe deep in the Castle's catacombs. Watching over her are a whole host of monsters, traps and - worst of all - the Evil Shapeshifter.

While Escape is the prequel to Space Ace (58%, Issue 59), it's the most recent to be converted and has many advances over Ace. Due to the spectacular set-piece graphics the main character still has a limited number of actions per scene, e.g. 'jump left and fire' to be performed at just the right moments. There's only one way to do things - mistime your actions and you lose a life. But unlike Ace there's a 'Helper' option where arrows appear on screen showing you what moves to make (until you get near the end). These moves are not always the same and can change from game to game.

There's also a 'Flipping' option, which improves lastability by forcing you to play most rooms twice, their order random with many shown mirrored. There are also three difficulty levels; 'easy' meaning there are less scenes to beat. Even more impressive, Dragon's Lair Part 1 can be linked to its sequel so you can play the whole coin-op - complete with 'Helper'-arrows on the first part, as well!

If you don't have a 1Mb machine you lose sound, and can choose to drop birth/death sequences to save disk accessing. You can still save the game though.

Zzap, Issue 61, May 1990, p.77

Scorelord Was it really a mere two issues ago that Space Ace had me blowing a circuit over its irritating lack of playability? Singe is a massive leap forward, the 'helper' arrows making gameplay more a matter of timing than maddening hit-and-miss experimentation. This gives the game a much more flowing, satisfying feel. As for the graphics, they're as good as you'd expect: fast, imaginative and full of humour! Sound is the ideal accompaniment - plenty of great spot FX. This means there's no less than five disks, and on quite a few scenes death means a brief pause for reloading it, but this really is quite a good game. Still not worth £45 perhaps, but good fun and essential for owners of the original.

Phil King Singe may only contain eleven 'scenes', but most of these include two or more screens and often repeat - as in the labyrinth - to create the impression of a substantial challenge. What's more, rooms can be mirrored (even if you don't choose the 'Flip' option), forcing you to reverse your actions. To begin with, graphics are almost irrelevant; you just watch the arrows. But once you get the hang of it you begin to appreciate the presentation more. The huge cartoon graphics really are superb with an atmospheric soundtrack to match. Overall, Singe is a definite improvement over the frustrating Space Ace, although juggling five disks is a bind and the £45 price tag is well over the top.

They're thinking about it!
u p d a t e

Hard drive installation program, option to link in Lair Part 1, save option, and much more besides. Apart from inevitable disk swapping, excellent.
Big, colourful, very fast, and slick. Lots of variety and imagination.
Hilarious spot FX, great arcade samples.
Instantly playable.
Difficulty levels, option to double number of rooms, and Part 1 expansion offer some challenge, although a few days intensive play should see it beaten.
Over-priced, but graphics and sonics are great while gameplay is fun.