Dragon's LairDragon's Lair was one of the first laserdisc video games, released June 1983 by Cinematronics. It featured polished Disney-like animation created by former Disney animator Don Bluth, for the first time allowing players to control a fully realized character, as opposed to a pixel-based sprite, which at the time were comparatively limited in the amount of detail they could sport.
The game's enormous contrast with other arcade games of the time created a sensation when it appeared, and was played so heavily that many machines often broke due to the strain of overuse. It was also arguably the most successful game on this medium and is aggressively sought after by collectors.
Dragon's Lair began as a concept by Rick Dyer, president of Advanced Microcomputer Systems. A team of game designers created the characters and locations, then choreographed Dirk's movements as he encountered the monsters and obstacles in the castle. The art department at AMS created storyboards for each episode as a guide for the final animation.
The game was animated by veteran Disney animator Don Bluth and his studio. Development was done on a shoestring budget, cost $1 million dollars and took seven months to complete. Since the studio couldn't afford to hire any models, the animators used photos from Playboy magazines for inspiration for the character Princess Daphne. The animators also used their own voices for all the characters instead of hiring actors in order to keep costs down.
Because of the involvement of veteran Disney animator Don Bluth, the artwork in Dragon's Lair, such as this frame of Princess Daphne, was the highest quality ever seen in an arcade game when it was released.
The original laserdisc players shipped with the game (Pioneer LD-V1000 or PR-7820) often broke under the strain imposed by play (the game skipped tracks to display what happened based on the players' actions). Though the Pioneer players were fine in quality, laserdisc players just weren't built to undergo the strain Dragon's Lair imposed. The fact that the game was immensely popular and almost continuously played didn't help matters. As a result, the player often had to be repaired or replaced.
It is rare to find a Dragon's Lair game intact with the original player. A kit is available (Hi-Tech Card) that allows replacement of the rather fragile Pioneer player with a modern Sony LDP series laserdisc player.