Created by Rick Dyer of Advanced Microcomputer Systems (AMS) and released in June 1983, Dragon's Lair was the first of the much-reviled "interactive movie" genre. This genre basically consisted of playing a video clip (which at that time was stored on a laserdisc), then requiring the player to press a button at a particular time or the character would "die". Whether or not this particularly qualifies as a "game" is a matter of personal opinion, but the punters were obviously impressed and the machine was a roaring success. The game was also groundbreaking since it utilised exisitng technology (laserdisc players, arcade machines) for commerical purposes, minimising the amount of R&D required for game development.

The plot followed Dirk The Daring's valiant quest to save the fair Princess Daphne from a magical castle in which she was imprisoned. A whole line of merchandise was created including lunch boxes, clothing, a fan club and an ABC TV series. The 22 minutes of animation used in the game was created by the famous Don Bluth1 at a reported cost of US$1.3 million.

The "interactive movie" genre thankfully died out a couple of years later when gamers started buying games with more gameplay (even games that used interactive CG graphics displayed over full-motion video footage weren't enough to keep the genre alive). Dragon's Lair also spawned such games as Space Ace (not Space Ace - cheers, Rollo), Astron Belt and Bega's Battle.

Sources:
Laser Disc Legend (an article about Dragon's Lair) - http://www.dragons-lair-project.com/community/legend/
Dragon's Lair Project - http://www.dragons-lair-project.com

1. Thanks to yerricde for correcting that mistake. Originally, his name was spelled "Bleuth" and not "Bluth".

Back when Dragon's Lair first came out, I was an arcade junkie. This laserdisk-based game was new and exciting, and I picked up $20 in quarters to play.

During the sessions, you move Dirk the Daring using an 8-way joystick. Sometimes you would get a clue as to what you were supposed to do, normally shown as some area or object flashing quickly. Some rooms, like the octopus breaking through the roof, were a fast series of stick moves that you had to perform with precision timing.

As Zero Signal noted, there really was no game play. It was twitching on cue, and after I spent $15 of the twenty, I had progressed all the way through the final climactic scene and rescued Daphne from the dragon. I spent the rest of the quarters polishing up the timing.

The good thing about the game was that you could easily gather a large crowd. I ended up being so good at it that I watched for the scene, then looked away and had a conversation with the cutest girl while basically playing blind. For that $20 investment, I picked up four dates from the timing skills I developed.

At that point, it was just boring. The novelty of the cartoon had wore off, and sometimes I killed Dirk just to watch the sequences. When the successors to Dragon's Lair came out (most notably Space Ace), I didn't bother playing. It was old news by then.

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