This post on the Rampant Coyote’s blog got me thinking about the Bluth/Dyer games in general, all of which I loved despite their frustrating gameplay. So I typed “Dragon’s Lair” into YouTube.
All of that footage was cut from Dragon’s Lair (except the dragon fight at the end). The most intriguing to me were the scenes where there were several different possible exits from certain rooms. This footage got all the way through the animation process before being cut.
I think with that footage, a very good case can be made that Rick Dyer originally had a very different design in mind for Dragon’s Lair.
The Dragon’s Lair we got is a tightly linear game, where rooms are thrown at the player in random sequence and the player must memorize the moves necessary to beat them by rote. But the animated sequences that show Dirk leaving some scenes through alternate exits strongly suggest that the castle was originally designed to be coherent, not random. Which would have given the game an aspect of exploration and required the player to not only figure out the correct sequence of moves to get through each room, but also to figure out the best path through the castle to the dragon.
This, frankly, would have been fantastic and would have given the game much-needed depth. It also would have paved the way for future games to do the same. It’s a shame that the feature had to be cut.