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Dragon's Lair on iPhone: Fire-blast from the past

Laser Disc games are hitting the App Store fast and furious--first Space Ace, and now Don Bluth's classic Dragon's Lair.

Dirk the Daring to the rescue once again!

Equipped with a great video player and easy touch controls, the iPhone is fast becoming a spot for Laser Disc arcade games of yore to get a second life on the go. First came Space Ace early this year, but for a roll of quarters, iPhone and iPod Touch users can now reach back into their bowling alley/arcade memories and get Dragon's Lair, which was released this week, on the App Store, too. It's a perfect adaptation of the Don Bluth-animated game that I remember all too well from many, many weekends at Chuck E Cheese.

For those who haven't played, Dragon's Lair amounts to a medieval-themed rescue-the-princess romp through the many rooms of a castle filled with, upon reflection decades later, some pretty strange stuff: robotic horses, taunting lizard-men, and giant rolling balls. All of it is portrayed in film-quality animation, making it visually timeless.

Some of the game, however, is a little more dated.

Movement is controlled, like Space Ace, with an onscreen d-pad that lights up with the direction you need to choose before triggering a death sequence. There's also a sword button for fight instances; while the gameplay is basically a reflex-tester, it's the precursor to instant button-pressing fight moments that made a big comeback in PS2 games like God of War.

The animation and audio are as crisp as they could be on the small screen (and considering the original game wasn't in HD, that's more than OK), and it even comes with the iconic trailer that played on endless loop in arcades, inviting you to be Dirk the Daring and rescue Princess Daphne. Produced by EA and Digital Leisure, it costs $4.99--not cheap by any means, but a better bargain than some of the ill-advised Dragon's Lair game adaptations over the years.

Space Ace...Cobra Command...Dragon's Lair. What's next, Mad Dog McCree? Well, yes; according to the "upcoming games" tab, Digital Leisure says that's coming in early 2010.