A screenshot from Dragon's Lair

Screenshot from Dragon's Lair

Dragon’s Lair and the Laser Game Craze - Daring Discs

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Starcom/Cinematronics 1983

 Crazy Like a Firefox

Firefox, a laserdisc video game by Atari, 1984

Anon. pilot gives the thumbs up to Atari’s laserdisc game ‘Firefox’, 1984 promo image

Industry leader Atari gives the laser game genre a go with Firefox, a tie-in with the 1982 Clint Eastwood action movie of the same name, made by Warner Bros. The gravelly-voiced tough guy Eastwood seems like he’d be a tough nut to crack to help make a video game.  However, according to Atari’s coin-op division marketing head Don Osborne, turns out Dirty Harry and nameless gunfighters from numberless westerns is a huge fan of video games, playing pretty much every product Atari ever put out. The company’s Firefox arcade game charges players to steal an advanced supersonic fighter jet from the Russians and bring it home to Mother One base in the Arctic. The game features edited movie visuals culled from hours of footage, some unseen in the finished film, with the total footage equaling at least 12 minutes of play time. Atari’s laser game also sports 28 digitized dialog phrases from Eastwood, including extra lines recorded by the actor, and a specially created music soundtrack all presented in stereo sound. Similar to M.A.C.H. 3, Firefox has players swooping over filmed landscapes while shooting at computer generated targets, although Atari’s game adds the ability to change altitude at certain points, taking to the open skies to conserve fuel and shake off radar detection or stay low to the ground for better cover. In the harder escape paths available to players during the level selection screen offering four different routes, day turns to night and pilots must rely on their display to control the craft. A new laser disc player co-designed by North American Philips and Atari provides quick access to the data on the disc, eliminating the “blanking” that has plagued other games of the genre. Firefox has another ace up its sleeve as well, in the form of the same solid-feeling flight yolk used in Atari’s classic vector shooter Star Wars.

Dubbed a LASERVIDEO product, Firefox‘s cockpit cabinet makes its debut at the October 1983 AMOA show in New Orleans, but only the cabinet. No game is running inside it, due to what VP of Marketing Don Osborne explains as “technical difficulties”, and trade paper Cash Box describing in more detail as “problems with the disc software”. Despite frantic efforts to get the game running, including flying the “master disc” in by private Lear jet from Grass Valley, the game remains grounded for the entire show. Firefox finally does take off, beginning shipping to arcades in early February of 1984. Atari struts its stuff on March 15, holding a press conference officially introducing the game. Covered by major press outlets, present at the gathering are co-designers Mike Hally and Moe Shore, who explain the technology behind their creation. Then Firefox movie star Clint Eastwood takes the stage and puts the game through its paces. Atari also utilizes the same promotional techniques they had with the Star Wars vector game in 1983, creating video promo packages that news outlets can edit into their nightly broadcasts, and thereby get priceless free promotion for their product. Atari also states at the presser for Firefox that they plan on releasing around four more laserdisc games by the end of 1984… a highly optimistic forecast, with hindsight on the fate of laser games being 2020.

Fallout from Dragon’s Lair

While Dragon’s Lair had been a massive hit, gamers rapidly tire of the limited gameplay offered by it and the influx of all these other laser games following in its wake. Coin-op video game sales are cut in half from one billion in sales the previous year to $500 million in 1983. Perceived by the trade as the knight in shining live-video armour riding in to save their profits, laser games as a subgenre of video games have completely dropped off the radar by 1985. At the height of the craze, both Atari and Coleco plan to release laserdisc add-ons to their systems, which never make it off the drawing boards. The genre enjoys a brief renaissance in the arcades during the early 90s with new laser shooting games, created by a company called American Laser Games, founded in the late 80’s by Robert Grebe. It is spun off from original company I.C.A.T., makers of situational trainers for police officers. The Last Bounty Hunter, Crime Patrol, Crime Patrol 2: The Drug Wars, Fast Draw, Gallagher’s Gallery, Mad Dog McCree, Mad Dog McCree II: The Lost Gold, Space Pirates, and Who Shot Johnny Rock? are all produced by the company. The system revolves around an Amiga 500 computer, providing for easy superimposition of video graphics like scores and hit squibs.

The company releases their first fully computer graphics game in 1994, called Orbatak, with players controlling rolling orbs across multiple playfields using a trackball. Hoping to attract more of the female segment of video game players, ALG moves to cater to that relatively untapped demographic with a new division called Games for Her Interactive in May of 1995. Their first product is released the same year, an FMV dating sim titled McKenzie & Co. Meeting with success, Her Interactive is spun off from ALG, and would eventually buy out their former mother company. They would find future success in a line of Nancy Drew adventure/mystery games.

JUMP: Full Motion Vidiots have fun with ALG’s Space Pirates, YouTube

Rick Dyer himself comes back to the FMV stage in 1991, in a bid to revolutionize arcade games again, with Sega’s release of “holographic” arcade game Time Traveler. The game features display technology first introduced as a tech demo at the March 1991 American Coin Machine Exposition (ACME), as well as the Summer CES that year. The unique display process is called MicroTheatre by its developer, With Design in Mind. The system uses images that are transmitted via laserdisc to a monitor and reflected off a black concave mirror inside the cabinet, images that then appear “holographic” in pseudo-3D on a stage above the mirror. The result of a $2 million budget just in its research and development, this imaging technology paired with a Time Traveler FMV game created by Dyer’s company is unveiled by Sega as a full-fledged arcade game at their distributors meeting in June 0f 1991. In it, players control the actions of old-west Marshal Gram in his quest to…do you see it coming?…rescue the Princess Kyi-La who has been kidnapped by some evil timelord. All of the action takes place on a surreal, sparsely decorated set with a black background. Along with some player input as to what paths to take in the story, a full playthrough of Time Traveler covers 20 random scenes out of a pool of a possible 60. As players progress, the amount of time given to make correct decisions is reduced. As a hidden bonus, if someone holds down both the player one and player two select buttons and presses down on the joystick during the attract mode, they can watch Dyer cavorting around the stage with his young son on his shoulders.

While Time Traveler certainly offers an interesting visual effect, the gameplay is still “on a rail” and the sets and acting certainly leave a lot to be desired. It does, however, offer the innovation of letting players actually travel back in time: when Marshal Gram dies, one can immediately hit a flashing button on the control panel and activate a Time Reversal Cube and rewind things to before their mistake, and try again. One of these cubes is given at the start of the game, with other available via a merchant throughout the game at the cost of a token. Factory set at 75 cents a play, the visual flash of Sega’s Time Traveler eventually pulls in $18 million in sales. Further arcade games utilizing more refined versions of the holographic technology are promised by Sega.

Beyond Dragon’s Lair

Both Rick Dyer and Don Bluth move on after their laser efforts, with Bluth directing such films as An American Tale and The Land Before Time, executive produced by Steven Spielberg, along with All Dogs Go to Heaven, Rock-A-Doodle, A Troll in Central Park, Thumbelina, The Pebble and the Penguin, Anastasia, and Titan A.E.. In 1992, Rick Dyer founds Virtual Image Productions. His Thayer’s Quest goes through a remarkably serpentine comeback process, surfacing first in 1995 as a game called Kingdom: The Far Reaches aka Reaches, on Philips’ CD-i platform, Panasonic’s 3DO, and MS-DOS, with Windows and Mac versions following later. A sequel is planned but falls through along with the CD-i technology. Here, the character names have been changed but the artwork and gameplay remain relatively the same. While this game is a rejig of the original arcade game, Dyer is finally able to fully realize his Tolkien-fuelled obsession with the initial 1996 Interplay release of the definitive Kingdom computer game. Shadoan, aka Kingdom II: Shadoan, is produced with a budget of 3 million dollars, putting it in the top ten of the most expensive games at the time. The plot and characters from Thayer’s Quest are redesigned in this sequel, with a team of 300 animators working non-stop for nine months creating 700,000 hand-painted cells for 70 minutes of animation. In this version, players control Lathan Kandor in his quest for the last three missing amulet parts to defeat the evil wizard Torloc. As well as the top-flight animation, Shadoan is the first game to be mixed in 5.1 six-channel DTS sound and boasts 30 original music tracks created by Martin Erskin and Andy Brick, along with Doug and Brian Bestermanthe, the musical team behind Disney’s Beauty and the Beast and Pocahontas. Also featured are multiple solutions and, in keeping with Dyer’s newly-formed crusade against videogame violence, a Parental Guidance Mode is available so kids aren’t subjected to intense fighting scenes. The game is a refinement of the same type of play as Thayer, with players choosing paths and actions and the ramifications of such played out. The game makes history as the first computer product to spawn a hit song, Where Do We Go From Here?. Known as Calace’s Song in the game, the ballad is sung by Julie Eisenhower. Both The Far Reaches and Shadoan go on to win numerous awards and accolades from game reviewers, including the re-release of Kingdom II: Shadoan from Dyer’s Virtual Image Productions receiving the Best of Show award at the 1998 MacWorld.

Even though laserdisc games succumb to a thousand Dirk-like deaths, Dragon’s Lair lives on. In April of 1983, in a startling move, Coleco licenses the home video game rights to Dragon’s Lair for 2 million dollars, although this deal also includes first options on further Bluth and Co. video games. There are reports that Coleco plans to develop a laserdisc add-on for their ADAM computer, to be sold at a price of $150 or less, and a laser version of Dragon’s Lair to go with it. Although timelines such as ‘late in 1984’ and ‘beginning of 1985’ are touted for its release, this add-on never materializes, although Dragon’s Lair does make it to the ADAM in conventional graphics form. The various other  incarnations of Dragon’s Lair product have generated hundreds of millions of dollars over the years. There are at least 30 translations of the game to such platforms as the Commodore 64 and Amiga, Atari ST and Jaguar, Apple IIGS and Macintosh, 3D0, CD-i, Nintendo NES and SNES, Sega CD and IBM PC DOSWindows CD-ROM and DVD. 14 years after the original is released, it ends up on the pedestal of history as one of only three videogames in the Smithsonian Museum in Washington D.C., alongside fellow trendsetters PONG and Pac-Man.

Further games based on the material are released by Readysoft Incorporated for computer platforms of the time, starting with Dragon’s Lair: Escape from Singe’s Castle, developed by Sullivan Bluth Interactive Media, Inc. and released in 1990.  The game contains the levels that were left out of the original ReadySoft computer version of Dragon’s Lair due to space constraints. Space Ace gets a similar treatment, with sequel Space Ace II: Borf’s Revenge zooming in for computers of the era in 1991 with scenes that were left out of the original computer release, with some new animation added. Following this is the computer game Dragon’s Lair III: The Curse of Mordread, developed by Don Bluth Multimedia, Inc., appearing in 1992. Even a Color Gameboy version is announced by Dyer, developed under the Dragon’s Lair LLC banner in partnership with Digital Eclipse. Practically every scene is rendered for the portable device, and the game is scheduled for release by the end of the year 2000. The aborted Dragon’s Lair movie is occasionally taken off the shelf and dusted off, as rumours begin surfacing at the end of the millennium of its development. And Bluth and Dyer create game production house Dragonstone Software to create a new generation of games, including new 3D remakes of both Dragon’s Lair and Space Ace. Their first is called, unsurprisingly, Dragon’s Lair 3D: Return to the Lair, released in 2002. The game is put out by Blue Byte Software, best known as the makers of the Settlers series. Distribution duties are later handled by Ubi Soft. The game features state-of-the-art graphics and finally offers players what they’ve been waiting 18 years for: full, free-roaming control of bumbling Dirk the Daring in his eternal struggle through the castle to reach his purloined princess.

A still from Dragon's Lair 3D: Return to the Lair, a video game by Dragonstone/Blue Byte 2002
Dragon’s Lair 3D: Return to the Lair – Reaper Room

Dirk and company also grace the pages of a 6-issue comic book series, published by Arcana Comics in 2008.  Presenting a story that fleshes out the events of Daphne’s capture and Dirk’s battle to rescue her from Singe, they feature a plot by Andy Mangles and art by Fabio Languna… although Don Bluth lends a hand, drawing the cover for issue #1.

Although the arcade laserdisc has met a permanent demise, Dirk, Daphne and the rest of the gang continue as some of the most enduring characters in video game history. Lead on, adventurers…your quest awaits!  logo_stop

Sources (Click to view; inert links kept for historical purposes)


Page 1 – The Tick-Tock Man
Dragon’s Lair Creator Rick Dyer
Poole, Stephen, and Lance Elko. “Dragon’s Lair: Re-Creating a Classic.” Game Players Encyclopedia of Nintendo Games, pp. 24–29. Working from the initial plans he drew on cash register tape, Dyer moved his images onto film strips to sequence the game’s events.
Horowitz, Pam. “Compuzine: Coming Attractions in Video.” Editorial. K-Power May 1984: 6. K-Power Magazine Issue 4. Internet Archive. Web. 05 Feb. 2016. Rick Dyer, the genius behind Dragon’s Lair, is president of RDI and has been working with interactive discs since 1978.
FYIowa – Q&A: Rick Dyer – vgames.webpoint.com/vid/fyiowa/q_and_a/0,1363,30,00.html
YouTube video – Dragon’s Lair and Space Ace Inventor Rick Dyer – wn.com/john_dyer_(inventor)
 
Page 1 – Disney Calling
Dragon’s Lair Creator Don Bluth
Zorn, Eric. “Coming Soon to a Laser Game near You…” Chicago Tribune 15 Mar. 1984: C1 – C3. Newspapers.com. Web. 9 Apr. 2021. “…tight scheduling made us take the kind of shortcuts you see on Saturday morning cartoons. We were just billboarding for characters and stuffed toys.” ;”We were losing the subtle touches of Walt’s original vision – the contact shadows under the characters, backlighting and sparkles and reflections in water that made his early movies so magical.”
Don Bluth Shrine – www.geocities.com/Hollywood/Cinema/7100
Van Eaton Galleries – www.vegalleries.com/index.htm
Omni, “Video Worlds”, by Phil Wiswell, pgs. 54 – 58, 99 – 100, Jan 1984

 
Page 1 – Exploring the Dragon’s Lair
Astron Belt First Previewed by Sega, Provided Impetus for Dragon’s Lair Creators
Bloom, Steve. “Astron Belt! The First Videodisk Game.” Comp. Jason Scott. Video Games Apr. 1983: 17. 31 May 2013. Web. 13 Oct. 2019. Three images of Astron Belt prototype gameplay, 1983

Electronic Games, “Electronic Games Hotline: Sega Showcases Laser Game”, pg. 18, May 1983. Retrieved from the Internet Archive, Electronic Games magazine collection

Bloom, Steve. “Astron Belt! The First Videodisk Game.” Comp. Jason Scott. Video Games Apr. 1983: 17. 31 May 2013. Web. 13 Oct. 2019. Three images of Astron Belt prototype gameplay, 1983

Electronic Games, “Electronic Games Hotline: Sega Showcases Laser Game”, pg. 18, May 1983. Retrieved from the Internet Archive, Electronic Games magazine collection

Gelmis, Joseph. “Dragon’s Lair Brings Movies into the Video-game Arcade.” Star Tribune (Newsday News Wire) [Minneapolis, Minnesota] 12 Aug. 1983: 5C. Newspapers.com. Web. 26 Sept. 2020. “There are 22 minutes of information on the disc. A winning game takes 8 minutes to play.”
 
Dragon’s Lair Development
Creative Computing Video & Arcade Games, Fall 1983, Page 21, Top Ten Games at the AOE ’83 by Steve Arrants Electronic Games, November 1983, Newsmakers: Dragon’s Lair article “Don Bluth Builds a Dragon’s Lair”, pgs. 22-24 Video Games Starburst
Wisconsin State Journal (Knight-Ridder News Service), “Dragon’s Lair: Hot animation”, by Steven X. Rea, Section 7, pg. 1,6 Aug. 14 1983
Compasio, Camille. “Around the Route.” Comp. Associate-manuel-dennis. Cash Box 6 Aug. 1983: 31. Internet Archive. 26 Sept. 2016. Web. 6 Oct. 2019. <https://archive.org/details/cashbox45unse_8/page/30>. …Cinematronics promised distribs and ops it would deliver its first laserdisc game, “Dragon’s Lair,” in July – and sure enough, container loads (rather than sample shipments) of the new piece have been in delivery since just after the first of July.
Robley, Les Paul. “Dragon’s Lair.” Comp. Desmond Pfeiffer. Cinefantastique Sept. 1983: 22-23. Internet Archive. 27 Sept. 2019. Web. 18 Nov. 2020. Don Bluth Animation Studio’s Dragon’s Lair opened at arcades in July.
St. Games, ne: Softline, “Infomania, The Laser Connection”, by Roe Adams, pg. 48, Mar/Apr 1984. “Although the games sold for a very high $4,300 each, ten thousand of the machines were sold in the first three months.” Retrieved from the Internet Archive, Softline collection, Nov 2 2015.
Atari Coin Connection, “Introducing Missile Command”, pgs. 1-2, Jul 1980. “…Missile Command is the first production video game designed for both street and arcade locations to be set for 50 cent single play as it is shipped from the factory.” “In making the announcement, Frank Ballouz, Atari’s Director of Marketing said, ’50 cent play has been need [sic] by the industry for some time…” Retrieved from Pirate Pinball, Atari Coin Connection archive, Sep 16 2015.
Hero Envy: Dragon’s Lair, The Quest for a Perfect Video Game – hero-envy.blogspot.ca/2011/08/dragons-lair-quest-for-perfect-video.html
Digital Press Interviews… Don Bluth – www.digitpress.com/library/interviews/interview_don_bluth.html
JoyStik, “Dragon’s Lair”, by Joe Menosky, pg. 32, Vol. 2 Num. 2, Nov. 1983>/span>
Sternberg, Marc. “Don Bluth Video Magician.” Comp. Associate-manuel-dennis. Cash Box 18 Feb. 1984: 42-44. Internet Archive. 26 Sept. 2016. Web. 8 Oct. 2019. The laser disc players we used for “Dragon’s Lair” had been sitting in a warehouse for four years…But we knew that if “Dragon’s Lair” went, we had a ceiling on the number of games that we could produce and that was a heartbreaking thing. ;We Spent $2.5 million making “Space Ace”. ; …it’s about a 50 percent faster game ; We said, “Well, should we close our doors because we don’t have any other contracts…” ;We found one man who was willing to put up $300,000 ;We made about $600,000 worth of animation and we found out there was no game play…So I got very involved in how the game worked…So, we redesigned the game in about four days. We got into this room and went nuts for about four days and didn’t come out. After that we had what is “Dragon’s Lair” right now. Then Coleco saw that little bit of footage we had on film and said “We’re working on something for the home that is laser disc and we would like to buy the home rights to ‘Dragon’s Lair.'” At that time they said. “We’ll buy them (the home rights) for $2 million” and they put $1 million up front. That allowed us to finish “Dragon’s Lair.” ;There is an operator up in Berkeley who put a television monitor above the game (“Dragon’s Lair”), then he put seats by the game….[etc. etc.] ;Now with “Space Ace” to help support that, we have come up with a whole package for the distributer and the operator…[etc. etc.] ;What we’re doing at great expense – we’ve spent almost $100,000 to make sure all of this is in place for the arcade owners… ;Yes, Coleco. With the $2 million they got the license to do “Dragon’s Lair” and first right of refusal on any future game that Magicom makes. They have already purchased the home rights to “Space Ace”. They purchased them in New Orleans (the AMOA convention last October).
Gelmis, Joseph. “Dragon’s Lair Brings Movies into the Video-game Arcade.” Star Tribune (Newsday News Wire) [Minneapolis, Minnesota] 12 Aug. 1983: 5C. Newspapers.com. Web. 26 Sept. 2020. “We spent $600,000 and we found what we’d made wasn’t a game. It didn’t work. We got for of the computer engineers from AMS into a room and brainstormed….. Then we got a great cram course in game design from Eric Bromley of Coleco Toy Co. He liked what we were doing so much that Coleco has purchased the home rights to the game for $2 million and paid us half up-front.”
Arcader, Unknown. “The Unknown Arcader: Arcades of Boston.” Comp. Scottithgames. Electronic Fun with Computers & Games Mar. 1984: 46. Internet Archive. 28 May 2013. Web. 16 Aug. 2020. Photo of front signage of 1001 Plays arcade, Boston ;people gathered around a Dragon’s Lair player, at 1001 Plays video arcade in Boston.
Brown, William Michael. “Hot Fun in the Summertime.” Comp. Scottithgames. Electronic Fun with Computers & Games July 1983: 24. Internet Archive. 28 May 2013. Web. 11 Oct. 2019. <https://archive.org/details/Electronic_Fun_with_Computer_Games_Vol_01_No_09_1983-07_Fun_Games_Publishing_US/page/n23>. Image of Dragon’s Lair on display at 1983 AOE. Photo by Andrea Brizzi. Other info: We’re told that the final version of the game will contain 42 episodes and over 1,000 life-or-death situations… ;…three months later (and every three months thereafter), Starcom plans to release an entirely new game in kit form that arcade operators can just plug into the old Dragon’s Lair cabinet.

“Hotline: Don’t Count Out Arcades.” Editorial. Electronic Games May 1984: 8. Electronic Games – Volume 02 Number 12 (1984-05)(Reese Communications)(US). Internet Archive. Web. 09 Feb. 2016. Dragon’s Lair not only rewrote the record book for dollar-earners in the pay-for-play world, but its traffic-building presence in the fun parlours is said to have boosted revenues as much as 40% across the board.
Dragon’s Lair Collectables – www.dragonslairfans.com/collectibles/collectibles.htm
Starcade – www.jmpc.com/Starcade/starframe.htm
Dragonstone Software – www.dragonstone.com Pioneer LD-V1000 manual

 
Page 2 – Ace in the Hole
Dragon’s Lair Follow-up Space Ace
Zorn, Eric. “Coming Soon to a Laser Game near You…” Chicago Tribune 15 Mar. 1984: C1. Newspapers.com. Web. 9 Apr. 2021. Photo of Don Bluth with Space Ace cabinet, photographer George Thompson.
Robley, Les Paul. “Dragon’s Lair.” Comp. Desmond Pfeiffer. Cinefantastique Sept. 1983: 22-23. Internet Archive. 27 Sept. 2019. Web. 18 Nov. 2020. A space game tentatively called Space Age involves a 14-year-old nerd who becomes physically energized at certain moments… ;(Goldman said they originally wanted to call it Space Nerd)…
Hunter, David. “Newsbits: Ace of Space.” Softtalk Apr. 1984: 198. Softalk V4n08 Apr 1984. Internet Archive. Web. 27 Feb. 2016. The game [Space Ace] features fourteen minutes of animation…The animation for Space Ace cost 1.8 million to create, up from the $1.3 million it cost to make the twelve animated minutes of Dragon’s Lair. Bluth and his studio are currently working on Dragon’s Lair II, which has an animation budget of $2.3 million. Dragon’s Lair has grossed more than $32 million and has spawned a home version (due out soon from Coleco). …Space Ace, which sold fifteen hundred arcade machines in its first week on the market. To date, Dragon’s Lair has sold more than eight thousand units. Various game technical manuals
The Arcade Flyer Archive – flyers.arcade-museum.com/?page=home
Mehren, Elizabeth. “Beyond the ‘Dragon’s Lair'” Enter Apr. 1984: 42-47. Enter Magazine Number 06. Internet Archive. Web. 10 Mar. 2016. “We’re trying to develop two-player games. We’re working on more branching, faster pacing, more sound and even better graphics,” says Gary Goldman. “As for more control over characters, that’s coming too – but slowly. We hope to develop games that will allow you to move a character in four directions, instead of the two now possible.” Image of Don Bluth sitting in front of NIMH characters, photo by David Strick.

 
Page 3 – Astron Belted
The Release of Astron Belt
Bally/Midway Monitor, “Special Report: 1983 AMOA” pg. 1, Dec 1983. “Generating excitement for the second year at AMOA was Astron Belt, Bally Midway’s new laser disc odyssey, which had been shown at last year’s AMOA in an early prototype stage…” Retrieved from Pinball Pirate, Bally/Midway Monitor archive, Sep 17 2015.
“Newspeak: Videodisc Games to Hit the Arcades This Summer.” Softtalk Aug. 1983: 268+. Softalk V3n12 Aug 1983. Internet Archive. Web. 18 Feb. 2016. The Yellow Brick Road Arcade in San Diego, California is currently previewing the Sega/Paramount laserdisc game Astron Belt…the game is doing ‘extremely well’, having already scored a major success in Japanese and European arcades.;According to Brenda Mutchnick of Sega Games, ‘We hope to release a few new games of this type by the end of the year. We don’t know if Astron Belt will be one of them…when we got a look at the game here we didn’t feel the game play was as good as that of current home computer games. We are now redesigning the cabinet itself…’;Additional games are already under development at Don Bluth Productions. A space game, tentatively titled Space Ace…;A home version of Dragon’s Lair is under way at Coleco, tying the game into a home laser-disc player. It should be ready by next year.
Robley, Les Paul. “Dragon’s Lair.” Comp. Desmond Pfeiffer. Cinefantastique Sept. 1983: 22-23. Internet Archive. 27 Sept. 2019. Web. 18 Nov. 2020. Paramount’s Astron Belt may hit the arcades in the future. (It is currently previewing at the Yellow Brick Road Arcade in San Diego, California.)
Scottithgames, comp. “Top Secret.” Electronic Fun with Computers and Games Feb. 1984: 80. Internet Archive. 28 May 2013. Web. 12 Feb. 2020. Sega Japan is all set with a replacement laserdisc for Astron Belt, and the name is Star Blazer…
 
Page 3 – Ahhh, MACH…
Gottlieb, Mylstar and the M.A.C.H 3 and US vs. THEM Laserdisc Games
Associate-manuel-dennis, comp. “HEERE’S Q*BERT!” Cash Box 07 May 1983: 44. Internet Archive. 26 Sept. 2016. Web. 28 Sept. 2019. <https://archive.org/details/cashbox44unse_46/page/44>. Image of Q*Bert with Gottlieb president.
M.A.C.H. 3 – members.home.net/e40/mach3
Associate-manuel-dennis, comp. “New Equipment.” Cash Box 24 Sept. 1983: 34. Internet Archive. 26 Sept. 2016. Web. 26 Sept. 2019. <https://archive.org/details/cashbox45unse_15/page/34>. The new game [M.A.C.H. 3]…is the product of over eighteen months of development.
Ressner, Jeffrey. “Sequel Games, New Technology Shown At Expo.” Comp. Associate-manuel-dennis. Cash Box 4 Dec. 1982: 34+. Print. Though some kinks have yet to be worked out (such as making the player-controlled spaceship seem as realistic as the ones in the film and smoother transitions between sequences)…
arcarc.xmission.com/Web%20Archives/Jeff%20Andersen%20(Sep%2027%202003)/flyers/default.htm
“Name Change Big News.” Electronic Entertainment, Sept. 1983, pp. 18–19. D. Gottlieb & Co., manufacturer of coin operated games for the past 56 years, has changed its name to Mylstar Electronics, Inc. The change took effect the third day of July.
Associate-manuel-dennis, comp. “Premiere – Mylstar Agreement Reached.” Cash Box 3 Nov. 1984: 29. Internet Archive. 26 Sept. 2016. Web. 9 Oct. 2019. <https://archive.org/details/cashbox47unse_20/page/29>. Cash Box has learned that Premiere Technology Co. will buy from Mylstar Electronics Inc. (formerly D. Gottlieb and Co.) certain equipment and parts of its discontinued product line. On September 30 of this year, parent company Columbia Pictures Industries announced that Mylstar was closing its doors, discontinuing operation at the Northlake, Illinois facility.
“Hotline: Goodbye Q*bert – Mylstar Ceases Operation.” Electronic Games Jan. 1985: 14. Electronic Games – Volume 03 Number 01 (1985-01)(Reese Communications)(US). Internet Archive. Web. 09 Feb. 2016. Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. closed the doors of Mylstar Electronics (formerly Gottlieb & Co.) at the end of September…Astron Belt was first selectively showcased to members of the industry and press at a November, 1982 trade expo by a company then known as Gremlin/Sega… Even Sega was being cloudy on hard data – “sometime in the next two years” was about as close as anyone came to actual specifics…
Associate-manuel-dennis, comp. “JVW Acquires Mystar’s Microprocessor-based Graphics Technologies.” Cash Box 16 Mar. 1985: 35+. Internet Archive. Web. 28 Jan. 1984. John C. von Leesen, president of the newly formed JVW Electronics, Inc., announced that JVW has acquired the exclusive world-wide rights to certain of Mylstar Electronics’ microprocessor-based graphics technologies.

 
Page 3 – Leaping Lupin
Stern Laserdisc Game Cliff Hanger
Uston, Ken. “Will Laser Discs Save the Coin-Op Industry?” Creative Computing Feb. 1984: 111-24. Creative Computing Magazine (February 1984) Volume 10 Number 02. Internet Archive. Web. 29 Feb. 2016. …signs prepared by Stern suddenly appeared notifying us that the cadaver-hanging scene could be omitted, if desired, through some kind of dip switch adjustment.
Cliff Hanger/Lupin III – lonestar.rcclub.org/%7Ecggraham/Title.html
Lupin III FAQ – www.ccs.neu.edu/home/cruzl/lupin/faq/index.html

 
Page 4 – Thayer’s Key(board)
Thayer’s Quest Arcade Game
“Micronotes.” Editorial. K-Power July 1984: 32. K-Power Magazine Issue 6. Internet Archive. Web. 06 Feb. 2016. The Turtles (alias Flo and Eddie, or Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan) have recorded the soundtrack for the first animated home videodisk fantasy game, called Thayer’s Quest. The Turtles recorded it on a 360 system – a brand-new music synthesizer that records instrument sounds on computer chips. Nearly $2 million has gone into research and development for the videodisk system. 
 
Page 4 – Halcyon Days
Rick Dyer’s Home Laserdisc Game Console Halcyon
MicroTimes, “Sweet Savage Byte: HAL Comes Home” by Jina Bacarr, Nov 1984. Both this and the above article retrieved from the Internet Archive, MicroTimes newsletter collection.
Persons, Dan. “Laser’s Last Stand.” Electronic Games Jan. 1985: 78-81. Electronic Games – Volume 03 Number 01 (1985-01)(Reese Communications)(US). Internet Archive. Web. 10 Feb. 2016. He’s [Rick Dyer] understandably quite excited about the system’s [Halcyon] prospects: “…Dragon’s Lair was spun out of the Halcyon technology. Halcyon’s been under development now for five years. We were prepared two years ago to introduce Halcyon into the home. The problem we had was that market research showed that it was premature… so we decided to introduce Dragon’s Lair.”
Image of the Halcycon laserdisc system with Thayer’s Quest keyboard template installed taken by William Hunter at the Videogame History Museum display, CGE 2014 in Las Vegas

 
Page 5 – Crazy Like a Firefox
Atari Laserdisc Game Firefox
Associate-manuel-dennis, comp. “Atari Delves Into Brave New World Of Laser Disc Games With “Firefox”.” Cash Box 20 Oct. 1983: 50. Internet Archive. Web. 22 Sept. 2019. “The disc can store 30 minutes of film on it, and the game has at least twelve minutes worth of playing time.” ;”We’ve worked with him [Clint Eastwood] for years because he’s a real video game enthusiast,” said the marketing exec [Don Osborne]. “Over the years he’s had just about every Atari video game there is.” ;”More than likely, we’ll go with an ‘electronic press kit’ like we did on ‘Star Wars’.” ;The firm plans to have approximately four more discs out by the end of 1984.”
MicroTimes, “Edit Mode: Atari’s new ‘Firefox'”, by Don Hamilton, Sept/Oct 1984

Associate-manuel-dennis. “Industry News-New Equipment-‘Firefox’ Laser.” Cash Box, 17 Mar. 1984, p. 33. Internet Archive, Accessed 22 Sept. 2019. Hours of movie footage, some of it never before seen by moviegoers, was viewed by Atari’s Firefox project design team to ensure that only the most dynamic sequences were used for the game. ;The specially developed flying controls featured in “Star Wars”, a previous Atari game, are also found on Firefox…
Image of Firefox games and pilot, as well as other information from Atari Coin Connection, “Atari Firefox Sets New Standard in Laser Disc Entertainment” by Debbie Note, Pgs. 1,4, Jan/Feb 1984. “Firefox utilizes a new technically superior laser disc player co-designed with North American Philips to Atari specifications for industrial/commercial application. Designed for high reliability, the system gives extremely rapid access to “interleaved” video segments, creating continuous action and no ‘dead spots'”. Retrieved from Pinball Pirate, Atari Coin Connection archive, Sep 17 2015.
Associate-manuel-dennis, comp. “AMOA: The Mood On The Display Floor.” Cash Box 12 Nov. 1983: 31+. Internet Archive. 26 Sept. 2016. Web. 25 Sept. 2019. <https://archive.org/details/cashbox45unse_22/page/30>. Although Atari spokespersons said the company was trying everything in an attempt to get the game to function – including flying in the game’s “master disc” on a private Lear Jet from Northern California – it was to no avail and the elaborate unit sat dormant throughout the three-day run of the Expo.
Mace, Scott. “Can Atari Bounce Back?” InfoWorld 27 Feb. 1984: 100. Print. …Firefox, Atari’s first videodisc-based game, which started shipping to arcades early in February.
Associate-manuel-dennis, comp. “AMOA .” Cash Box 12 Nov. 1983: 33. Internet Archive. 26 Sept. 2016. Web. 25 Sept. 2019. <https://archive.org/details/cashbox45unse_22/page/32>. Atari’s “Firefox” lasergame, unfortunately inoperable during the entire event due to problems with the disc software.
Image of Clint Eastwood and Firefox game, as well as other information from Atari Coin Connection, by Debbie Note, pg. 2, Spring 1984. “Assuming center stage is nothing new to Eastwood, except he wasn’t filming at the time but lending his presence and video game playing skill to a major media press conference, held March 15 at The Burbank Studios in southern California.” Retrieved from Pinball Pirate, Atari Coin Connection archive, Sep 17 2015.
 
Page 5 – Fallout from Dragon’s Lair
Games Come and Go in the Wake of Dragon’s Lair
Fallout from Dragon’s Lair
Harrisonburg Daily News Record (N.Y. Times News Service), “Laser-Disk Game Scoring Big”, by Aljean Harmetz, pg. 14, August 3 1983
Williams Electronics, Inc. TAFA Original. N.p.: Williams Electronics, n.d. Star Rider. The Arcade Flyer Archive. Web. 29 Feb. 2016. Image of front page of flyer for Williams’ Star Rider
Time Magazine, “Video Games Go Crunch!”, by Charles P. Alexander, Oct. 17 1983

Uston, Ken. “Will Laser Discs Save the Coin-Op Industry?” Creative Computing Feb. 1984: 111-24. Creative Computing Magazine (February 1984) Volume 10 Number 02. Internet Archive. Web. 29 Feb. 2016. The coin-op business has been in serious trouble during the past year or so. According to The Los Angeles Times, annual sales of new coin-op games have dropped from one billion dollars to $500 million…
American Laser Games by David Fikers – www.geocities.com/TimesSquare/Cauldron/7168
Hubz, comp. “American Laser Games Appoints Dealer Net.” RePlay Dec. 1992: 36. Internet Archive. 15 Feb. 2021. Web. 10 Apr. 2021. Image of Stan Jarocki and Robert Grebe pointing guns at each other, 1992
Kunkel, Bill. “The New Coin-Ops.” Electronic Games May 1984: 70-73. Electronic Games – Volume 02 Number 12 (1984-05)(Reese Communications)(US). Internet Archive. Web. 09 Feb. 2016.
Hubz, comp. “Amusement Industry Converges On Las Vegas Hilton For AMOA Expo ’89.” Vending Times Sept. 1989: 116. Internet Archive. 15 Mar. 2019. Web. 7 Apr. 2021. 1989 image of Leland Cook at 1989 AMOA Expo
Scott, Jason, comp. “Summer Consumer Electronics Show ’91.” Amazing Amiga July 1991: 95. Internet Archive. 11 Sept. 2011. Web. 9 June 2020. One of the most interesting displays….was the animation images created by the MicroThreatre manufactured by With Design in Mind. ;image of MicroTheatre game
Associate-manuel-dennis, comp. “Sega’s Time Traveler.” Cash Box 6 July 1991: 29. Internet Archive. 26 Sept. 2016. Web. 25 Sept. 2019. <https://archive.org/details/cashbox54unse_45/page/28>. Image of Sega execs gather around Time Traveler game. Other info: When Sega first introduced its Hologram at the ACME ’91 convention in Las Vegas, the intention was not to show a game but a new technology. However, on June 14 when distributors gathered… Time Traveler, in its completed form was unveiled.
“New Video Game Is ‘wild…and a Little Weird’.” The Times [Shreveport, Louisiana] 07 Aug. 1991: 1B. Newspapers.com. 10 Aug. 2020. Web. 7 Apr. 2021. Regular play involves 20 senes randomly selected from 60. Each level becomes tougher as the micro-processor cuts down the amount of time allowed to make decisions. ;At 75 cents per play, the Hologram Time Traveler is steeper than most elaborate games. ;Sega spent about $2 million just researching the system. Sega President Tom Petit said the company is designing new games to improve on the technology. Expect to see them in arcades in the next year or so.

 
Page 5 – Beyond Dragon’s Lair
Rick Dyer Continues Thayer’s Quest
Edgemundo. “Microsoft MS-DOS 3D Boxes Pack (732).” EmuMovies. N.p., 17 May 2020. Web. 17 Aug. 2020. Image of game box for Shadoan, by Interplay
Shadoan – www.thecomputershow.com/computershow/reviews/shadoan.htm

 
The ColecoVision/ADAM Laserdisc Game Add-on
Delson, James. “A New Kind of Entertainment.” Comp. Jason Scott. Family Computing Feb. 1984: 24-28. Internet Archive. 30 Aug. 2011. Web. 27 Jan. 2020. But the course of video and arcade games changed last July with the introduction of Dragon’s Lair, the first fully animated arcade game on laserdisk. Produced for $3 million, Dragon’s Lair has already made well over $24 million, with another $18 million in back orders. Coleco, makers of the celebrated new ADAM computer, has purchased rights to the game for $2 million. This year they’ll be trying to come up with some feasible laserdisk version priced for the home market.
Robley, Les Paul. “Dragon’s Lair.” Comp. Desmond Pfeiffer. Cinefantastique Sept. 1983: 22-23. Internet Archive. 27 Sept. 2019. Web. 18 Nov. 2020. A home version of Dragon’s Lair is underway at Coleco, tying the system into a home laserdisc player. It should be ready by next year…
Ed1475. “Dragon’s Lair (1984) Coleco Adam Box Cover Art.” MobyGames. N.p., 4 Jan. 2015. Web. 18 Aug. 2020. Image of ADAM computer version of Dragon’s Lair
Mccorkled. “Atari Jaguar CD 2D Covers.” EmuMovies. N.p., 01 Mar. 2019. Web. 18 Aug. 2020. Image of cover art for the Atari Jaguar version of Dragon’s Lair
“Dragon’s Lair (2000) Game Boy Color Box Cover Art.” MobyGames. Ed. Charles Lippert. N.p., 18 Sept. 2003. Web. 18 Aug. 2020. Image of cover art for Windows 95 version of Dragon’s Lair: Time Warp
Electronic Fun With Computers and Games, “Top Secret” by The Fly, pg. 98, July 1983. “…Coleco bought the rights to Dragon’s Lair all the back in April…”. Retrieved from the Internet Archive, EGWCG collection, Sep 9, 2015.
Fly, The. “Top Secret.” Comp. Scottithgames. Electronic Fun with Computers & Games July 1983: 98. Internet Archive. 28 May 2013. Web. 12 Oct. 2019. <https://archive.org/details/Electronic_Fun_with_Computer_Games_Vol_01_No_09_1983-07_Fun_Games_Publishing_US/page/n97>. …The Fly’s betting on Coleco – they bought the rights to Dragon’s Lair all the way back in April…
Powell, David B. “Ask Enter.” Enter May 1984: 8. Print. By the beginning of 1985, Coleco plans to introduce a videodisc version of the game [Dragon’s Lair] and their own videodisc player for the Adam system.
Videogaming and Computergaming Illustrated, “Close Up: Laserdisc!” by Bernhardt J. Hurwood, pgs. 25-27, 52-53, Nov 1983. “The home distribution rights to Dragon’s Lair have already been bought by Coleco for two million dollars…” Retrieved from the Internet Archive, Videogaming Illustrated collection, Sep 18 2015.
St. Games, ne: Softline, “Infomania, The Laser Connection”, by Roe Adams, pg. 48, Mar/Apr 1984. “Coleco signed an estimated $2-million deal with Bluth for the computer rights to Dragon’s Lair, as well as future options on all of Bluth’s laser disk games.” Retrieved from the Internet Archive, Softline collection, Nov 2 2015.
Horowitz, Pam. “Compuzine: Coming Attractions in Video.” Editorial. K-Power May 1984: 6. K-Power Magazine Issue 4. Internet Archive. Web. 05 Feb. 2016. Coleco purchased the rights to the game [Dragon’s Lair] for a whopping $2 million, and already has released a computer-generated graphics version.
Edgemundo. “Atari ST 3D Boxes Pack.” EmuMovies. N.p., 10 Feb. 2020. Web. 17 Aug. 2020. Game box image for the Atari ST version of Space Ace II: Borf’s Revenge
“Dragon’s Lair 3D: Return to the Lair (2002) Xbox Box Cover Art.” MobyGames. Ed. Corn Popper. N.p., 20 Mar. 2003. Web. 18 Aug. 2020. Image of the box art for the Xbox version of Dragon’s Lair 3D: Return to the Lair
“Dragon’s Lair (2000) Game Boy Color Box Cover Art.” MobyGames. Ed. Corn Popper. N.p., 6 Apr. 2003. Web. 18 Aug. 2020. Image of the Game Boy Color version of Dragon’s Lair
 
Dragon’s Lair Comic Book
Arcana comics website – www.arcana.com
 
Unannotated, Uncategorized or I Just Don’t Damn Remember
The Dragon’s Lair Project – www.dragons-lair-project.com
Syd Bolton’s Dragon’s Lair HomePage – www.pixelpower.on.ca/dl
Blam Entertainment Group – www.blamld.com
Don Bluth – www.donbluth.com
Digital Leisure – www.digitalleisure.com
AGH Coin-Op Special: The Rise and Fall of Laserdisc Arcade Games – www.atarihq.com/coinops/laser/index.html
Cartoon Depot – www.cartoondepot.com
retroland.com – www.retroland.com/retroblog/
Ahoy!, “Playing the Light Fantastic” by Richard Herring, pgs. 41-48,79, April 1984

Electronic Games, “Games on Disc” by Les Paul Robley and Bill Kunkel, pgs. 40-46, Jan 1984. Retrieved from the Internet Archive, Electronic Games magazine collection
Starlog, “The Big Box Office $weepstakes”, by Robert Greenberger, pgs. 58-60, Jan 1983
Revista Games – Top 10 – Os piores video games da história! – revistagames.wordpress.com/2009/08/07/top-10-os-piores-videogames-da-historia/
Dragon’s Lair On-line – www.fortunecity.com/underworld/doom/147/index.html
Compute!, “Nonviolent Games” by Kathy Yakal, pg. 40-48, Oct 1983
Cineposters – www.cineposters.com/site/index.html
 
Plus email interviews with:
Warren Davis Shannon Donnelly

 

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Comments >>

    1. avatarWilliam

      Makes sense, early CD platforms were seen as the gateway to “Interactive Movies” at home. They didn’t learn their lessons from Dragon’s Lair and all the other laserdisc games that came and quickly went from arcades…. pretty pictures and no play makes Dirk (and the others) dull games.

      Reply

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