Dragon's Lair (NES)
Dragon's Lair is an action game based on the original arcade game. Because of its limited hardware, the developer couldn't port over the arcade original and instead had to develop a completely new game from scratch. The player takes the role of Dirk the Daring, who is trying to rescue Princess Daphne who has been taken by Singe, the Dragon. The player must navigate through five levels to get to Singe. There is also a bonus level in which Dirk tries to steal a piece of gold from the Lizard King, but this is optional and serves no other purpose than to increase your score.
The Japanese and European versions are very different from the North American release. The Japanese version features much faster gameplay, but changes the B button to the candle and the up button to jump. The European version improves the game even more by adding splash screens, more enemy designs, but also is made more difficult because of these new enemies, making it harder to complete each level.
The game was developed by a few Elite Systems employees under their subsidiary MotiveTime; it was programmed by Andy Williams, with graphics by David Percival, and music by Mark Cooksey. Trevor Williams was the project manager. MotiveTime would also go on to develop the Game Boy and SNES versions of Dragon's Lair. A Sega Genesis version was made for the latter but was unreleased.
Dragon's Lair for the NES was heavily negatively received by critics. The North American version in particular has been torn apart by many critics, including the Angry Video Game Nerd. The game was criticized for the extremely slow response time to the controls. The large sprites, while impressive for an NES game, along with the egregious controls, make it outstandingly hard to traverse through each level. In addition, despite having a health bar, almost every single obstacle in the game kills you in one hit. If that's not enough, the health bar also decreases every time Dirk uses his weapons. However, of all its faults, the game was praised for its visuals and audio.
The sister game to Dragon's Lair, Space Ace, was also to be released for the NES by the same developer. However, a prototype has never surfaced, and only a couple screenshots can be seen in an issue of Nintendo Power. It is likely it never released due to the poor reception that Dragon's Lair had received.
This page needs more screenshots.
Of all the faults of Dragon's Lair, the music is not one of them. The music's overall theme is old-century-styled tunes. Each stage has its own theme. The only song that has any rock elements to it is the ending theme. Each level's theme has a suspenseful aura about it, and the boss theme has an ominous tone complete with flattened 5ths.
The interesting thing is that the music was slightly altered between the North American, Japanese, and European versions; The North American version plays its music the slowest, while the Japanese and European versions feature faster music. But what's even more interesting is the ending music; when the Japanese and European versions were made, a couple notes were changed in one particular section of the song. It is unknown why this change was made. Like most other PAL conversions of NTSC games, the European version plays its music a half-step flat.
According to Mark Cooksey, he said the music was composed in Notator for the Atari ST and he converted the MIDI files which he made in Notator to the NES with his sound driver. Mark Cooksey said the title music was an actual song he wrote and recorded called "Mark's Medieval Lahs" in which he used a Roland D10 for piano backing while he used several 8-track tapes to record his voice. Mark would go on to compose the Game Boy and SNES versions of Dragon's Lair, albeit with different music. The Game Boy version also uses Mark's Medieval Lahs, but the arrangement is completely different. According to Cooksey, he owns a shrinkwrapped North American copy of the game.
The names of the songs come from the game's manual. The manual however states that the official level 1 is The Entrance Hall.
The Stage 2 music has the noise channel go out of sync with the other sound channels, and takes 3 loops of the square and triangle channels to resync properly.
1 - USA/NTSC
2 - Japan/NTSC
3 - Europe/PAL
|101||Mark's Medieval Lahs||Mark Cooksey||Mark Cooksey||1:57||Download|
|102||The Drawbridge||Mark Cooksey||Mark Cooksey||1:06||Download|
|103||The Entrance Hall||Mark Cooksey||Mark Cooksey||0:54||Download|
|104||The Gold Mines||Mark Cooksey||Mark Cooksey||1:52||Download|
|105||The Hall of the Grim Reaper||Mark Cooksey||Mark Cooksey||2:18||Download|
|106||Singe's Cavern||Mark Cooksey||Mark Cooksey||2:05||Download|
|107||The Elevator Shaft||Mark Cooksey||Mark Cooksey||0:34||Download|
|108||Boss||Mark Cooksey||Mark Cooksey||1:01||Download|
|109||Ending||Mark Cooksey||Mark Cooksey||0:46||Download|
|201||Mark's Medieval Lahs||Mark Cooksey||Mark Cooksey||1:35||Download|
|202||The Drawbridge||Mark Cooksey||Mark Cooksey||0:52||Download|
|203||The Entrance Hall||Mark Cooksey||Mark Cooksey||2:02||Download|
|204||The Gold Mines||Mark Cooksey||Mark Cooksey||1:27||Download|
|205||The Hall of the Grim Reaper||Mark Cooksey||Mark Cooksey||1:46||Download|
|206||Singe's Cavern||Mark Cooksey||Mark Cooksey||1:27||Download|
|207||The Elevator Shaft||Mark Cooksey||Mark Cooksey||0:35||Download|
|208||Boss||Mark Cooksey||Mark Cooksey||0:48||Download|
|209||Ending||Mark Cooksey||Mark Cooksey||0:39||Download|
|301||Mark's Medieval Lahs||Mark Cooksey||Mark Cooksey||1:32||Download|
|302||The Drawbridge||Mark Cooksey||Mark Cooksey||1:00||Download|
|303||The Entrance Hall||Mark Cooksey||Mark Cooksey||2:25||Download|
|304||The Gold Mines||Mark Cooksey||Mark Cooksey||1:42||Download|
|305||The Hall of the Grim Reaper||Mark Cooksey||Mark Cooksey||2:05||Download|
|306||Singe's Cavern||Mark Cooksey||Mark Cooksey||1:42||Download|
|307||The Elevator Shaft||Mark Cooksey||Mark Cooksey||0:42||Download|
|308||Boss||Mark Cooksey||Mark Cooksey||0:56||Download|
|309||Ending||Mark Cooksey||Mark Cooksey||0:47||Download|
(Source: Verified by composer, game lacks credits)
As per usual with the Elite NES titles, this game does not have credits. However, the game uses Mark Cooksey's sound engine. We have contacted Mark Cooksey who has confirmed composing the music and sound effects to this game.
- mobygames.com/game/nes/sullivan-bluth-presents-dragons-lair - MobyGames.
- gamefaqs.gamespot.com/nes/587250-sullivan-bluth-presents-dragons-lair - GameFAQs.
- youtube.com/watch?v=MoxJ8R4nhVQ - An orchestra performs Dragon's Lair (NES)'s title theme and level 1 music.