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Video Game / Dragon's Lair

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Saving princesses a few years before Mario or Link made it cool.

"Dragon's Lair: The fantasy adventure where you become a valiant knight, on a quest to rescue the fair princess from the clutches of an evil dragon. You control the actions of a daring adventurer, finding his way through the castle of a dark wizard, who has enchanted it with treacherous monsters and obstacles. In the mysterious caverns below the castle, your odyssey continues against the awesome forces that oppose your efforts to reach the Dragon's Lair. Lead on, adventurer. Your quest awaits!"
Attract mode from Dragon's Lair

Still known as a classic to this day, Dragon's Lair was the first arcade game that utilized LaserDisc technology to provide an entirely new gaming experience... back in 1983, at least. Rick Dyer and Don Bluth basically created an entire animated world that was placed on a laserdisc, and animated progress screens, death scenes and the like played according to what direction you, as the player, moved via the joystick and "Sword" button, thus inventing the Interactive Movie genre.

Your role is Dirk the Daring, a brave yet still reluctant knight in medieval England whose goal is to save Princess Daphne from the clutches of Singe the Dragonnote . Although Bluth played it straight for the most part in order to give it the feel of games of the era, the characters are somewhat on the cartoony side, as knight-errant Dirk is an average joe Comedic Hero, while Daphne is an over-the-top Ms. Fanservice whose look and poses were based on Playboy centerfolds.


The game itself has garnered a place in the Smithsonian Institution, and has had umpteen versions of home consoles, PC systems, smartphones and even homemade hacks adding further scenes and adventures. It also had an Animated Adaptation on ABC, courtesy of Ruby-Spears. The Coleco Adam version, Super Dragon's Lair, was notable for its then-revolutionary use of raster graphics.

The game (along with its sci-fi counterpart Space Ace, as well as the sequel) was well-known for dozens of death scenes, all of which were unique to a given scenario. The cartoon included a variation by offering Dirk a choice of actions before each commercial, and showing what would have happened to him if he had made the wrong one in the next scene.

Even though it is the Trope Maker for Action Commands and Press X to Not Die, its common place among gamers may set them off. This is still probably better than every other FMV game ever made, though - save for those that followed this gameplay formula (like the aforementioned Space Ace, and Taito's Time Gal).


A movie was announced (and even storyboarded), but has languished in Development Hell for years. Bluth and his colleague Gary Goldman, trying to raise funds for it, attempted a Kickstarter campaign for the movie in late 2015. Unfortunately the campaign failed to reach even half of its proposed goal, and Bluth pulled the plug on it as of November 24, 2015. Despite this setback, Bluth and Goldman didn't give up and moved their fundraising to Indiegogo; the campaign was not only successfully funded, but far exceeded their minimum goal of donations. The film has now entered production.

There's also a six-issue comic that's based on the game that also incorporates elements from the cartoon series (such as Dirk's horse, Bertram).

It should be noted that Dragon's Lair was not the first laser disc game ever made (that honor belongs to a Horse Racing game called Quarter-Horse), but it was the one that started it all. It was also the first ever video game to (initially) cost 50 cents (i.e., two quarters) to play.note 

Now available on Steam.

Dragon's Lair contains examples of the following:

  • Absolute Cleavage: The princess's outfit.
  • Action Commands: This game was the Trope Maker for requiring the player to execute a particular command (either moving the joystick in a certain directionnote  or using the sword) in a short time window based (usually) on visual cues in order to proceed through the game. Fail to execute the required command in the time window, and Dirk meets a grisly (if hilarious) demise.
  • Action Girl: In the comics, Daphne is this. Yes, Singe captures her, but he has to work at it, and she and Dirk are hugely overmatched.
  • Adaptational Modesty: When the game was made into a Saturday morning cartoon, of course Daphne couldn't wear that barely-there outfit she does in the game. Lampshaded in the comic miniseries, where it's revealed the glass bubble she's in actually turns maidens kept inside it into airheaded bimbos who think nothing of parading themselves like that.
  • Advancing Wall of Doom: Whether they be crumbling bridges, encroaching acid blobs or electrified floors, Dirk is almost always being chased by something.
  • Ambidextrous Sprite: Stages are sometimes mirrored, and Dirk is either right- or left-handed depending on the mirror. This can sometimes be the best visual cue to determine which move sequence is required in rooms with two possible orientations.
  • Animated Music Video: "He's My Guy," sung by Julie Eisenhower playing Daphne's singing voice.
  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • The home ports of the game often come with the option of having what button you need to press at what time displayed on default so as not to confuse newcomers—fortunately, the option to turn these off also exists for hardcore Dragon's Lair gamers.
    • Newer versions of the game (such as on PSN) offer a save feature that, if the player gets a game over, can immediately put Dirk in the last room saved in instead of requiring the player to play through the whole game up to that point all over again.
  • Astral Checkerboard Decor: Dirk has to jump from square to square on an electrified chessboard to keep the bad knight from electrocuting him.
  • Attack of the Monster Appendage: One of the first rooms you visit is slowly filled by the green tentacles of an unseen monster from upstairs.
  • Badass Normal: Dirk the Daring. He has none of the magical, elemental or lethal weapons or abilities of the many, many monsters and villains he encounters in the games, armed only with a sword and his wits, yet goes through all of his adventures with virtually that alone.
  • Bat Out of Hell: The Bat King.
  • Big Bad: Singe the Dragon sets the game in motion by kidnapping Princess Daphne, prompting Dirk to go on a rescue mission that ends with a confrontation with Singe himself.
  • Bloodless Carnage: Most monsters simply vanish into thin air when slain by Dirk's sword. Giddy Goons, when sliced in half, apparently are made of blue citrus cells. The best death scene that doesn't involve Dirk would be Singe, and there's still no blood here.
  • Boobs-and-Butt Pose: Daphne strikes one as she tells Dirk how to rescue her and slay the dragon.
  • Boss Arena Idiocy: Singe actually keeps the sword that is able to kill him in the Treasure Room where he sleeps. (Of course, that only makes him an idiot as far as the storyline goes; gameplay wise, knowing this information and actually grabbing the sword and using it right before Singe toasts Dirk medium rare are two different things.)
  • Brutal Bonus Level: the N.E.S port has a bonus stage where you can try to get back any gold that the lizard king stole from you. It takes lives away and prevents you from continuing the game unless you get past it.
  • The Chew Toy: Dirk. He can be burned to death, electrocuted, drowned, hurled into bottomless pits, crushed by falling debris, crushed by tentacle monsters, swarmed by bats, engulfed by tar, dashed against rocks or walls, impaled by magic flying weapons... and it's always hilarious.
  • Combat Tentacles:
    • In one room lots of green tentacles will fall from the ceiling in order to trap Dirk.
    • A lot of different enemies will try to strangle or crush Dirk in this fashion in the second game.
  • Comic-Book Adaptation: Beginning in 2003, CrossGen Publishing produced a comic-book miniseries adapting the original game, with elements from the animated series included, such as Bertram.
  • Cowardly Lion: This describes Dirk to a tee. He Screams Like a Little Girl at the sight of almost every monster or trap in the game, but he's still deadly with that sword once he overcomes his fear.
  • Damsel in Distress: Princess Daphne.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: Sort of. Don Bluth realized early on how unflattering Daphne's character was, not being much more than an oversexed, air-headed trophy girlfriend, and decided to portray Dirk as Dumb Muscle, so that they'd "be made for one another."
  • Dirty Old Man:
    • In the 3D remake's ending, Mordroc zaps Princess Daphne in the butt. It doesn't seem to do much more than startle her, but Mordroc seems to... rather enjoy it.
    • Singe, according to the comics. Daphne's Stripperiffic costume isn't her idea, it's Singe's, and she's just the latest kidnapped maiden to have to wear it.
  • The Ditz: Daphne. (Of course, Dirk isn't very smart either, so it evens out.) Played straight mostly, except when she tells Dirk what to do; she knows where the key is and how to defeat the dragon. Daphne also knows that the sword has magical powers. This Ditz is definitely smarter than she looks...
  • Dragon Hoard: Singe owns a hoard in a treasure room.
  • Dragons Prefer Princesses: The player's mission is to save Princess Daphne from a dragon.
  • Dragons Versus Knights: The central premise of the game. You play as a knight named Dirk braving the lair of Singe the dragon to rescue the damsel, ultimately ending in a one on one battle against the dragon.
  • Dummied Out:
    • The opening scene has Dirk being chased into the castle by eye stalk creatures. Originally, it was playable, instead of just the prologue.
    • Dragon's Lair didn't initially have the "only one way to beat the scene" scheme (the thing which was averted in Space Ace later): it indeed included more exits and versions of the same scene. Not only that, but it included completely different revival and game over scenes! Of course, all that was redummied back into the game with the release of 20th Anniversary Edition, yet in a really, really VHSish quality compared to the main game.
    • In an earlier version of the game's attract mode, there was a clip where a gargoyle is tossing a spear at Dirk. This was from a scene that was ultimately never finished. It got remade and was added into the 20th Anniversary Edition.
  • Everything Trying to Kill You:
    • Did something just flash white? It will likely kill you if you don't press the appropriate button or stick direction.
    • In the NES port, you die if you walk into a door, A FREAKIN' DOOR. Dirk doesn't just die, he changes to a pile of bones,note  from a door.
  • Excuse Plot: Why did this dragon kidnap Daphne? Dragons like to kidnap princesses. Why is Dirk trying to rescue her? Knights always rescue princesses from dragons. Need more than that? Didn't think so. (However, both the comic book and animated adaptations give Singe a little more motivation.)
  • Failure Is the Only Option: The cartoon featured "choose your move" segments offering Dirk a choice of actions, before cutting to commercial. In theory, a great idea; in practice, however, the viewer would sometimes get screwed as each option, no matter how logical at first, would still end in disaster. The writers then have Dirk choose his own strategy! Which wasn't even a choice available to him!
  • Fake Difficulty: Ooooh boy... the NES version is probably the worst. Every single subtrope can be listed. The dedicated episode of Joueur du Grenier (in French) shows large portions of the pain the player has to endure.
  • Fate Worse than Death: If he makes the wrong moves, Dirk can be shut into a sarcophagus by ghosts or locked into a tiny alcove by a gate (in both cases, he probably dies slowly of starvation).
  • Gaiden Game: Dragon's Lair: The Legend is a Game Boy side story about Dirk recovering shattered pieces of the Life Stone after an attack on Daphne's caravan. A traitor had informed Mordroc's army of the caravan carrying the Life Stone, and one of Daphne's maids, before dying, used her sorcery to shatter the Life Stone and spread pieces of it across the land. Dirk must recover all the pieces of the Life Stone and awaken the Dormant Knight in order to face Mordroc's army. Since the game is a reskin of the ZX Spectrum game Rollercoaster, and no other games reference this story, Dragon's Lair: The Legend has been regarded as discontinuity.
  • Giant Spider: One appears in a room where he tries to jump on Dirk's face to bite his neck.
  • Going in Circles: Zigzagged. Dirk has to go through a lot of areas twice (and in the case of the elevator scene, more than that), but there's always a subtle difference to getting through it the second time, usually involving the stage being flipped from left to right (which can lead to moments of Damn You, Muscle Memory! if you reflexively go right instead of left to avoid a collapsing floor or dodge a monster).
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Some of the death animations cut to Dirk's sword or helmet hitting the ground rather than showing what actually happened.
  • Headless Horseman: Dirk has to dodge him and is unable to use his sword due to the Horseman casting a spell on it.
  • Heroic Mime: Dirk, for the most part. He only ever says three words, two in the first game and one in the second. In Dragon's Lair he says, "Uh oh!" during the flaming ropes scene, and "Wooooooooooooooooooooow!" upon seeing Daphne, and "D-Daphne? Yahoo!" when finally rescuing her in Dragon's Lair II.
  • Hollywood Drowning: Certain Game Over sequences involve this happening to Dirk.
  • Impact Silhouette: One death in the Smithy scene has an anvil hitting Dirk square in the torso causing him and the anvil to crash through the wall behind him. This leaves a Dirk+anvil shaped hole.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Two deaths in the Smithy scene involve magic weapons - a sword and a spear - plunging so far into Dirk's chest that the tips come out of his back.
  • Infinity +1 Sword: The magic sword which can kill Singe. It's in the final level of the game and is implied to be the only weapon powerful enough to slay the dragon.
  • Iris Out: The game over sequences end with a traditional "contracting circle" iris out on whatever grisly fate has befallen Dirk this time.
  • Kaizo Trap: If you set the game to Hard after you beat the Bat King, the bats will still get you no matter what.
  • Literally Shattered Lives: One death scene in the Flying Barding level has Dirk and the barding literally shattered when hitting a wall.
  • Living Statue: The Smithy qualifies as one. He remains inanimate while Dirk fends off the flying sword, mace, anvil, and spear, only coming to life to attack Dirk when the latter tempers his sword in the fires of the forge.
  • Magma Man: In the Lethal Lava Land section some fat, humming... humanoids made of red lava will jump out of the craters and go after Dirk. If they catch him they jump with him in a nearby crater, turning him into one of them.
  • The Many Deaths of You: The hilarious death animations are part of the game's appeal, and take a lot of the sting out of its Nintendo Hard nature, to the point that you may actually purposely fail a level just to see how Dirk will bite it this time. Wanna see?
    • This even carried over to the TV adaptation. Before every commercial break a narrator would ask the audience what they'd try to get out of the problem facing Dirk, then after the break show the consequences of the different options. Usually he'd succeed by doing something the narrator hadn't suggested.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Daphne, who wears diaphanous clothing, and apparently that bubble is pretty cold inside. Considering she was rotoscoped from a porn actress, it's not surprising.
  • Nintendo Hard: There's a lot of Trial-and-Error Gameplay involved in getting the correct move sequence in any given room (such as whether to attack enemies with the sword or dodge them, or which direction to dodge in the face of an obstacle), and the timing for some of them can be frustratingly unforgiving. The original arcade version was effectively a quarter-devouring vacuum cleaner.
  • No Name Given: Singe the Dragon, the villain, is not named in the actual game—that would be given to him later in follow-up material.
  • Notice This: In some (but not all) levels, an object in the room will flash to indicate that Dirk should move toward it. There are a few Red Herrings that flash as well, though...
  • Off-Model: If you die in the Surprise Slide Staircase level, as Dirk slides down, he has a large, bulbous Gag Nose.
  • Oh, Crap!: In the Swinging Ropes of Fire, if you wait too long to grab the second or third ropes, Dirk says "Uh-oh..." as the fire on the rope reaches his hand, causing him to let go and plunge to a fiery death.
  • One-Hit Point Wonder: In all versions of the game, excluding the NES version. Unless Dirk catches fire, which will kill him in just one touch, of course. The NES version is only technically an aversion, as Dirk has 11 hit points... and almost everything in the game that can deal damage will do 11 hit points' worth.
    • Averted in the 3D remake; Dirk actually has a health bar in that game.
    • It's also played straight by the enemies. Almost all of them, including the big bad Black Knight, the giant Bat King and the skeletal Crypt Keepers will get vanquished in a single sword strike.
  • Pendulum of Death: One deathtrap requires Dirk the Daring to traverse a passageway where three of these swinging blades await to One-Hit Kill Dirk, who must Press X to Not Die to dodge these blades.
  • Polygon Ceiling: Dragon's Lair 3D is a remake of Dragon's Lair in a 3D game engine. It was not as well received, with reviewers stating it does not live up to the original.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: Dragon's Lair for the Coleco ADAM and Commodore 64 turn some of the animated sequences into action-oriented levels, such as the Falling Platform, where you must not only jump on and off the platform to avoid falling into the pit, but also must keep yourself from being blown off by an Air Genie.
  • Press Start to Game Over: You could lose all your lives in a hurry, especially since the level order is randomised and, in the arcade version, dying will send Dirk to a different level, making it common to face the most difficult levels in the game within seconds of pressing Start.
  • Press X to Not Die: Pretty much the Trope Maker and Ur-Example, only it didn't even tell you what to press or when (though it did have the occasional flashing hint - although the flashing hints mixed genuine clues with Schmuck Bait). Dragon's Lair II: Time Warp on the other hand had every possible correct move flashing (including the treasures that needed to be collected).
  • Red Herring: Several rooms feature flashing/glowing items which might seem to indicate that Dirk should go after them, but which actually lure him to his doom.
    • When Dirk is caught up in the gale in the Wind Room, a diamond can be glimpsed through a hole in the wall; there's nothing but a sheer, fatal drop on the other side of the wall.
    • In the Sliding Stairs room (AKA the YMCA room), after the second set of stairs turns into a sharp incline, both the hatch on the left of the screen and the chain on the right of the screen will flash. The hatch leads to safety, but the chain will release a torrent of water that washes Dirk into the bottomless pit in the middle of the room.
    • In the Checkerboard Corridor, there are two doors, one at the front of the room and one to the left that opens after Dirk dodges the fire and collapsing floor. The door at the front of the room leads to a small alcove; if Dirk enters it, a gate will close behind him, trapping him there.
    • The Room of Fire has a door at the back which opens and closes, usually a sign that this is Dirk's intended exit. If he tries to enter it, he will be consumed by flames; the actual exit is behind the bench to the left of the room.
  • Reptiles Are Abhorrent: Not only is the Lizard King abhorrent, he fights dirty. He attacks Dirk after a magic pot of gold snatches Dirk's sword and flies away with it, meaning you have to dodge his attacks while chasing down the sword, and can only get a shot at him when you recover it. Not as easy as it sounds, and when you manage to kill this guy, you're gonna feel as good as Dirk seems to, judging from his expression.
  • Scare Chord: The game over screen.
  • Schmuck Bait: One room is nothing but a table with a potion on it labeled "Drink Me". In a castle where every single inanimate object has been magically enchanted to kill you note . Interesting fact: if you lose all your lives on this scene, the table will have a loaf of bread instead of the potion and the sign will say "Eat Me". Which still counts as a Schmuck Bait. Even more interesting fact: Losing your final life in this scene in the Xbox 360 and Steam versions gives you the "Eat Me" achievement.
  • Screams Like a Little Girl: Some of Dirk's screams are pretty high-pitched.
  • Shout-Out: Dirk seems to have been modeled off of Sir Kay from The Sword in the Stone.
  • Society Marches On: The original developers of this game admitted in a 2012 interview that they would likely never get away with portraying Daphne as the airhead she appeared to be here in today's video game market.
  • Speed Run: Well, it's almost impossible, but if you can complete this game without being killed even once, while timing yourself, you'd find the total gamescore is just under thirteen minutes, amazingly enough.
  • Squashed Flat:
    • In the Boulder Trench/Rolling Balls screen, one of Dirk's death animations involves him being run over by one of the coloured balls in the trench, resulting in him being flattened and plastered over the outside like a decal.
    • In the Pool of Water room, the final obstacle sees Dirk trapped between two closing pedestals. If the player does not get him out, he tries to use his feet to hold the top pillar up, but they close together with him in the middle.
  • Stepford Smiler: Maybe Daphne is a little overconfident or just trying to Think Happy Thoughts when Dirk finds her. Whatever the case, she doesn't seem to be frightened in the least, even though she's eager for him to get her out.
  • Stripped to the Bone:
    • In the NES version, many enemies and obstacles (and DOORS!) do this to Dirk regardless of the HP meter.
    • The Game Over sequence in the arcade original (but not the sequel) features Dirk fading into a skeleton, which promptly collapses into a pile of bones.
  • Stripperiffic: Daphne and her little sheer black dress. Lampshaded in the comic: Singe has a legion of maidens he's transformed into vain bubbleheads who all dress like that, and Daphne just happens to be his latest acquisition. She does seem embarrassed about it and as they ride away at the end she's wearing a robe over it.
  • Take a Third Option: In the Saturday morning cartoon version before cutting to commercial the narrator would ask the viewers what they'd do to get Dirk and his friends out of the problem they were facing, then show the various outcomes before showing what he actually did to get out of the mess. Invariably it was a possibility the narrator hadn't actually mentioned.
  • Third Is 3D: Zigzagged. The original Dragon's Lair III is in 2D, Dragon's Lair 3D is a 3D remake of the first game, and Dragon's Lair III by Digital Leisure is footage of Dragon's Lair 3D mixed with the earlier gameplay style.
  • Thong of Shielding: Daphne's "dress" is actually a g-string teddy with a transparent black silk robe over it.
  • Treasure Room: The final room is Singe's treasure hoard, with Daphne in her orb prison as the main "exhibit". Dirk spends the first few seconds trying to keep collapsing piles of treasure from rousing the sleeping dragon.
  • Trial-and-Error Gameplay: When an action doesn't have a preceding cue. Also applies to the Commodore 64 port.
  • Updated Re-release: Oh boy, where to begin... Considerably, EVERY "direct-to-video" port was superior to the arcade original in the sense of having new scenes. Of course, it can't be compared with Dragon's Lair 20th Anniversary Edition which not only does include loads and loads of bonus material, but also loads and loads of Dummied Out scenes. Escape From Singe's Castle for Amiga also has completely new scenes which are... Oh come ON, may anyone trace these for the new release already?!
  • Wild Take: Dirk comes very close to this when he first lays eyes on Daphne.
  • Yet Another Stupid Death:
    • The direct-to-arcade versions indeed do qualify, but the NES port takes it to new heights. The castle door that kills Dirk instantly should only he contact with it? Everything's trying to kill you indeed.
    • In the PAL Super NES version, you can even die in the password screen.

Dragon's Lair II: Time Warp contains examples of the following:

  • Abhorrent Admirer: A section of The Garden of Eden involves escaping a morbidly obese Eve who thinks Dirk is Adam.
  • Ancient Egypt: Level 6.
  • And Call Him "George"!: Failing to dodge Eve causes Dirk to be hugged to death.
  • Apocalypse Wow: The fall of Garden of Eden after Eve eats the apple near the end of Level 4.
  • Artifact of Doom: The Death Ring, the one inside The Casket of Doom.
  • Artifact Title: Cameo of Singe's bones aside, the eponymous Dragon's Lair only appears briefly in the opening sequence, and the plot otherwise involves sci-fi fantasy and time travel elements, and a wizard for a villain.
  • Baleful Polymorph: If Dirk gets hit by one of the flying playing cards, he'll turn into a "Joker" playing card.
  • Band Land: The second half of the Beethoven level.
  • Been There, Shaped History: In the Garden of Eden stage, Dirk tricks Eve into eating the apple.
  • Big Bad: Mordroc the wizard.
  • Big Beautiful Woman: Eve. Reading the YouTube comments on playthroughs of the game show some fans even prefer her to Daphne!
  • Big "SHUT UP!": Near the end of Level 1 Dirk tangles with the Loch Ness Monster in Singe's old lair, who keeps shouting "Thief!" at him. After Dirk escapes in the time machine, Nessie yells "Thief!" at Daphne's mother Hilda, who responds, "Oh, shut up!" and hits him with a rolling pin.
  • Boss Banter: Mordroc seems to enjoy calling you "Fool" at every chance he gets.
  • Brawn Hilda: Daphne's mother. She even wears a Viking helmet - and her name is Hilda!
  • Cats Are Mean: One is the Cheshire Cat. Another is Beethoven's cat. Both wanna eat Dirk badly and do a sweet, sweet crunch when they do. The Cheshire Cat, though, is eaten by the Jabberwock. This was made by Don Bluth, after all; he has gone on record as saying he prefers dogs to cats.
  • Colour-Coded Timestop: The first time you grab one of the treasures in the Re-Cut Edition.
  • Concealment Equals Cover: Parodied in Level 5, when Dirk uses the giant flying violin as a shield against the music note bullets coming at him and getting deflected off the violin.
  • Continuity Nod: During the first level you run in the old castle from the first game and in the treasure room you can see Singe's skeleton and even his golden key. In that same level, not only do you find Singe's skeleton and golden key, but also the Bouncing Skulls with a death scene that is like Dragon's Lair.
  • Crazy People Play Chess: The second quarter of Level 3.
  • Creepy Crossdresser: You didn't think Daphne would be THAT easy to find, did you?
  • Darker and Edgier: Even the attract mode clearly shows us that, well, the landscapes' brightness of the sequel has been decreased compared to the original Dragon's Lair. Still, it manages to couple it with purely insane things going on the screen. Can you say it isn't Tim Burton-esque at some points?
  • Deranged Animation:
    • The Alice in Wonderland sequence makes the original look tame in comparison.
    • The scene where Beethoven plays a piano and a giant cat (likely because you're shrunk in this scene), tries to eat you. Doesn't qualify yet. Just watching from there, the piano levitates, Beethoven briefly turns into a blonde version of himself wearing brightly-colored piano style clothing and sunglasses (an obvious homage to Elton John), violins fly out of the piano, the cat gets more purple in tone (as well as bigger), grows horns and breathes fire, musical notes attack you, you have to walk on a hovering piano key walkway and Beethoven's coat catches on fire. Definitely qualifies!
  • Dinner Deformation: The giant snakes and a huge spider near the beginning.
  • Dirty Kid: In the Eden level, the Cherubs - who look no older than kindergartners - seem a little too interested in climbing around on Dirk, tickling him, and holding him down and spanking him.
  • Disguised in Drag: Though unintentionally, Tweedledee and Tweedledum dress Dirk up as Alice in Level 3.
  • Disney Acid Sequence: While Stage 3 was trippy enough to begin with, it completely spirals into chaos following the appearance of the Jabberwock. Stage 5 starts normally enough, but Beethoven's "creative gust" quickly turns it into one of these.
  • Dummied Out: The Pirate Ship. In the ending scene when Dirk is emptying his bag full of treasures a jolly roger flag is visible among them. Worth noting that the PC-only game, Curse of Mordread, has a pirate ship level that might have been what that was supposed to have come from.
  • Eaten Alive: As in the first game, a lot of death scenes involve Dirk being eaten. Swallowed whole by the "Loch Ness Monster"/Scottish snake thing in the castle, swallowed whole by a huge spider in the same region, being gobbled up by the Cheshire Cat or Beethoven's cat, eaten alive by spiders... the worst such death is probably the one where Monster Daphne sticks Dirk into her mouth and then yanks out his sucked-clean skeleton.
  • Even the Subtitler Is Stumped: Every time Eve says "Adam!" while calling after Dirk, the subtitles say "Apple!"
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: In the first game, it made sense due to every creature in the castle being a murderous demonic thing, but in the sequel, even the characters that are not overtly malicious can still take you to your grave.
  • Extreme Omnivore: Eve contentedly eats the flower Dirk offers her.
  • Family-Unfriendly Death: Mordroc explodes in both endings.
  • Fantasy LGBT: It's saying something to have a time travelling Beethoven shape shift into a flamboyant Elton John.
  • Fluffy Cloud Heaven: The exterior of the Garden of Eden.
  • Gag Nose: Mordroc's nose, so long that it has even a sort of tiny tree branch protruding from it.
  • Gainaxing: Eve does this quite a bit in her appearance.
  • Giant Spider:
    • Several in the Egyptian level, including humongous beetles.
    • Also one near the game's starting point.
  • God Save Us from the Queen!: The Queen of Hearts, of course, and logically, Daphne's mother.
  • Gold-Colored Superiority: All the bonus items appear to be made of gold, except for the Ace of Spades.
  • Guide Dang It!: The player must collect various treasures throughout the game in order to get to the final level and finish the game, and one of these is the notorious golden butterfly note . It's so well hidden that the PS3 version of the game contains a trophy for nabbing it on your first run through the game.
  • Happily Married: Dirk and Daphne are evidently happily married enough to have sired ten children, who appear to be rather close in age to each other.
  • Heartbroken Badass: Near the end of the game, after Dirk brings Daphne down to normal with the deathly side effect of the Death Ring in the original edition, when he sees her lying in the pedestal bed, he thinks he has failed her or caused her death and gives what he thinks is their Last Kiss and buries his head in grief, all the while using Offhand Backhands on the little imps that repeatedly attack him. Little does he realize that the kiss was actually a True Love's Kiss that has broken the spell while he is fighting off the imps and trying to stay alive by climbing onto crumbling platforms; and when she calls his name, he recovers completely upon seeing her alive and well.
  • The Hedge of Thorns: After the fall of Eden, massive thorns sprout up all over the place. If Dirk isn't careful, he may find himself caught between these spiny branches.
  • High-Altitude Battle: Dirk spends about half the game hanging onto or falling off things.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Dirk manages to remove the Death Ring from Daphne and toss it back at Mordroc, turning him into a helpless, fat green thing full of greenish bumps. Dirk finishes the sorcerer off by slashing him, exploding as a direct result.
  • Hostile Weather: The moment objects fly up through the roof during Level 5.
  • Huge Rider, Tiny Mount: Daphne's mother rides an ox while chasing Dirk early in the game. While the ox itself is full grown, she's even larger than it is!
  • Impact Silhouette: In one failure scene of Level 3, Dirk crashes into one of the teapots, leaving behind a Dirk-shaped hole.
  • Implausible Boarding Skills: Near the end of Level 3, Dirk the Daring uses one of the playing cards as a surfboard while riding the wave on the ocean of tears and avoiding the Jabberwock and oncoming teapots.
  • Incredible Shrinking Man: For some reason, Dirk is the size of a mouse in the Beethoven level. Probably Rule of Cool, because the whole sequence (which many consider to be the best scene in the game) wouldn't have happened had either Beethoven noticed Dirk was there or the cat not been able to chase Dirk.
  • Iris Out: As with the previous game, the game over sequences end this way. In the Garden of Eden level, many of the sequences end with a heart-shaped iris out.
  • Item Get!: A downplayed one that accompanies the Colour-Coded Timestop when Dirk grabs one of the treasures.
  • Kaizo Trap:
    • Even after Dirk has defeated the Big Bad, there are still some monsters to fight, some crumbling floors to evade and a pillar you might fly into face-first.
    • Well, naturally, Kaizoness begins a bit earlier, on the sixth level. After hours of attempting to beat this game, you find out that you actually weren't as close to mummified Daphne as you would think first.
  • Killed Off for Real: The game confirms the death of Singe the Dragon from the previous game, via a cameo of his skeleton in the castle's treasure room.
  • Lean and Mean: Mordroc is absolutely skeletal.
  • Literally Shattered Lives: Some game over sequences involve Dirk literally shattered when hit.
  • Little Black Dress:
    • And a very dark version of Fairytale Wedding Dress, which a transformed Princess Daphne is wearing along with her black wedding veil (and holding white flowers) in the Narrator's telling of the Bad Future (which is thankfully present only in the intro).
    • This also occurs at the beginning of the alternate Level 7, as you can see her only for a few seconds before she suddenly vanishes.
  • Magic Pants: When Daphne gets turned into a monster by the Death Ring, her dress grows with her so as to keep her modest at all times. Subverted with Mordroc, though, as his transformation has him completely bursting out of his cloak.
  • The Many Deaths of You: And they all got batshit crazy. Dirk's reactions have shifted to match; while he generally screams in terror or grimaces in pain during his deaths in the first game, there are several death scenes in the second game in which he shoots the player a Death Glare as he falls to his doom, and one where he whistles in fake nonchalance as he and the time machine slowly sink into lava. There is also a Director's Cut death scene in Level 7, which looks similar to the first death scene in Level 1. In fact, there are a total of 3 Director's Cut death scenes.
  • Marshmallow Hell: Dirk gets zapped to the Book of Genesis, occupied by fat campy angels and an aggressive, obese Eve. If caught by her, you get a cutscene of Eve glomping onto Dirk, followed by a game over. Since this cutscene doesn't end in death, some theorize that Dirk suffocated to death in her cleavage, but it also implies that he was forced to spend the rest of his life with her in the past.
  • Massive Numbered Siblings: Dirk and Daphne have ten children, who seem to be pretty close in age to one another.
  • Meaningful Background Event: Both played straight and inverted near the end of the game: while you are fighting off the imps, Daphne slowly wakes up in the background. In the next scene, you can see her stretching out her hands and yawning in the foreground while you control and spend the rest of the background fighting off more imps and jumping onto crumbling platforms, oblivious to her awakening.
  • Mind Screw: Any level starting from the third, but the Beethoven level especially. Let's see. First, we have Mordroc, Daphne and Dirk shrunk down to the size of mice. Second, starting from the 30th second of the scene, the piano flies into the air, breaks the roof of Beethoven's house and flies SO freaking high it's actually gone a bit farther out than the hemisphere. Next, a Band Land sequence, where not only the instruments get maximally freaky, but Beethoven himself starts looking like Elton John, while his kitty becomes a fire-breathing devil. And it's not even the end of the level... yet.
  • Mission-Pack Sequel: The gameplay is identical to the original game, aside from being able to collect treasures and being more linear.
  • Moment Killer: A LITERAL one: the demonic gargoyles can kill Dirk in interruption before he can perform a True Love's Kiss if you don't watch out.
  • Motive Decay: A new record. Daphne's mother goes from telling Dirk to rescue Daphne to attempting to murder him for losing her within seconds.
  • Mouth Cam: At the end of Level 2, the Tyrannosaurus Rex closes its mouth on Dirk and the time machine, and the scene cuts to the inside of its mouth as it attempts to swallow them both before they get a chance to escape.
  • Mummy: A big one in the Egyptian tombs.
  • Musicalis Interruptus: Occurs if you fail in some parts of Level 5, and if you grab each one of the two treasures — the hammer and the butterfly — in the Re-Cut edition (complete with each of the two four-note "short-short-short-long" motif chimes of Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 as a downplayed Item Get!).
  • Mythology Gag: This isn't the first time a protagonist in a Don Bluth production ran from a giant, dragon-like cat.
  • The Name Is Bond, James Bond: In the Treasure Room of Level 1, a talking time machine notices Dirk approaching it and says, "You must be Dirk, Dirk the Daring."
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: In the Eden level you actually have to listen to the snake and give the apple to Eve, who proceeds to devour it and cause the fall of Eden. Complete with thunderbolts and thorns everywhere. Bravo....
  • Nintendo Hard: Even more so than the original. The command windows are much shorter, and the visual cues as to what you're supposed to do next can be almost impossible to follow if you haven't memorized the scene. The levels are also much longer; where the levels of the original game were mostly 20 seconds or less, the levels of the second game are three or four times that, and even if you fail the last action of the level, you have to start the whole thing over. Even at its hardest arcade setting, Dragon's Lair was a walk in the park compared to the easiest settings for Dragon's Lair II.
  • Non-Lethal K.O.: Many of the "deaths" in the sequel aren't particularly deadly (though possibly painful), just embarrassing or inconvenient. Of particular note is Dirk being given a Tickle Torture or a spanking by a bunch of cherubs, Eve or a snake-monster falling in love with him, and several of the defeats Daphne's mother can give you.
  • Non Standard Game Over:
    • One Game Over is Daphne being transformed into an old hag.
    • Another involves Dirk becoming a clone of Mordroc.
  • Notice This: Dragon's Lair II is more consistent than the first game in indicating which action is required by having part of the screen flash, complete with audio cue. If part of the scenery flashes, move toward it; if Dirk's sword flashes, use it.
  • Obnoxious In-Laws: The whole first level is escaping Daphne's angry mother.
  • Offhand Backhand: Dirk does this a few times throughout the game. Example: a snake tries to attack from behind, and he gives it a quick bop with his sword in such a way that it looks like it was by accident — but it's a player command, and you die if you don't. Dirk even does this while GRIEVING when he thinks Daphne is dead, his head buried in despair... but when an imp moves in to attack — smack! — and Dirk doesn't even acknowledge it. Also near the beginning of the game, particularly when a bunch of monsters attack him while he's trying to focusing on escaping Daphne's mother.
  • Off-Model:
    • When Daphne wakes up and is reunited with Dirk she knocks off his helmet and loses both her shoes. They randomly regain and lose both items in the final scenes at the game's end.
    • One very glaring (but, given the game's breakneck pacing, easy to miss) continuity error can be seen in the opening sequence—when Daphne's Mother is chasing Dirk, in the scene right after Dirk mounts his horse and takes off, she is suddenly riding an ox literally out of nowhere!
    • Beethoven's cat knocks a candle off the piano early on in stage 5, the candle is back in its original position but a moment later.
    • In the mud swamp scene early in the game, there's a shot where Dirk is being carried by a pteranodon toward Mordroc's position, Mordroc can be heard shouting at and taunting Dirk, but he completely freezes in place, not moving his body or his mouth at all.
  • Our Angels Are Different: The Gatekeeper who turns Dirk into a chibi Winged Humanoid version of himself, and the tiny cherubim that try to tickle him in Level 4.
  • Prehistoria: Stage 2. And it is here that Dirk fights off dinosaurs and winged centaurs that carry Daphne away.
  • Press X to Not Die: As with the previous game, the entire gameplay is built around it.
  • Public Domain Soundtrack: The soundtrack that plays entirely in the background of Level 5 while you avoid getting eaten by a fire-breathing cat is the first part of Ludwig van Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 in C minor (Allegro con brio). This also counts as a Genius Bonus when you notice that the symphony number is the same as the level number.
  • Re-Cut: The Director's Cut edition appears in most recent ports of the game. In this one, a special brief scene plays the first time you grab each one of the treasures, and once you collect all of the treasures, it triggers a short, alternate Level 7 in which, after Dirk throws the sword at Mordroc as the wizard places the Death Ring on Daphne's finger, instead of being turned into a monster like in the original, she suddenly falls in a deathly faint and vanishes, leaving the ring lying on the floor; and you suddenly find her lying on her bed after defeating him. This kinda counts as either Fridge Brilliance or Fridge Logic.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: A bit inverted with the Twin Snakes of Eden. The Purple Snake (Red Oni) is talkative but smart and cautious and tries keeping Dirk safe as best as he can; the Green Snake (Blue Oni), on the other hand, is quiet but ferocious and tries to devour our hero in spite of the Purple Snake's advice not to harm him.
  • Rhymes on a Dime:
    • Mordroc and his brother, though this mostly goes to the latter as a time machine.
    • The Cheshire Cat can count, since he says the first stanza of Jabberwocky. So can Tweedledee and Tweedledum.
  • Rolling Pin of Doom: Used by Daphne's mother.
  • Rotoscoping: Used to animate the time machine.
  • Sacred Bow and Arrows: The first two bonus items.
  • Screen Shake: When Eve is prancing after Dirk, every time she lands on the ground there's an earthquake.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The Queen of Hearts, the playing cards, and the Cheshire Cat reciting the first stanza of Jabberwocky are a shout-out to the Disney adaptation of Alice in Wonderland.
    • The entire fifth level is a shout-out to the segments of Disney's Fantasia and Schroeder's musical segment of A Boy Named Charlie Brown. Also a nod to Elton John's live performances.
    • Mordroc refers to the time machine as "you caliginous clanking piece of junk", which seems to be paraphrased from The Wizard of Oz insulting the Tin Man ("you clinking clanking clattering collection of caliginous junk").
  • Sissy Villain: The Angel who watches over Eden. And don't try to deny it! The minions of the Angel are the baby angels, in which if Dirk fails to escape them, they will tickle him as he laughs. If Dirk is, however, caught by the flaming sword, he will be spanked by it.
  • Sneeze of Doom: One game over sequence involves Dirk falling off of a tree branch into a patch of flowers, which cause him to sneeze.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Near the end of the game, when harp music plays in the background while Dirk is struggling to stay alive by fighting off imps and jumping onto crumbling platforms.
  • Split Screen: Happens twice in Level 5, though in this case it's more like a boxed screen that focuses on Dirk in order to let you help him know what to do.
  • Stripped to the Bone: Dirk, in some death scenes. Despite the Game Over from the first Dragon's Lair game not appearing if the player loses all of his/her lives, this trope appears in Level 6, in which the flesh eating gas literally melts Dirk's skin, leaving behind only his skeleton. Which does not crumble unlike the first Dragon's Lair game. Also, in another death scene of the same level, a spider eats the flesh off his arm as he freaks out. Level 7 had this in another death, where Monster Daphne takes away his flesh, resulting in his skeleton.
  • Strong Family Resemblance: It seems that all of Dirk's and Daphne's ten children have the same hair colors and clothes as their parents. All six of the boys have the same brown hair color and wear the same clothes, boots and helmets (and one of them has the same sword) as their dad; and all four girls have the same blonde hair color and wear the same blue dresses as their mom. The only thing different, however, is their hairstyles. Then again, all the girls have the same dress that seems to be either an expy or a Suspiciously Similar Substitute of the dresses of the Von Trapp girls in The Sound of Music.
  • Suddenly Speaking: At the very end when Daphne revives from Dirk's kiss, upon seeing her alive and well, the overjoyed Dirk gets his first and only full line of dialogue in the series by happily screaming her name.
  • Swallow the Key: Parodied in the Re-Cut edition: the first time Dirk grabs the key, he places it in a teacup and drinks it.
  • Talking Appliance Sidekick: The time machine, which is (somehow) Mordroc's brother.
  • Tap on the Head: More like bopped on the head. Failure to dodge certain characters results in this.
  • Tempting Apple: In Level 4, Dirk has to heed the advice of the Purple Snake and lure Eve into temptation with an apple of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil (in belief that he would rescue Daphne), all the while fighting off its green snake twin who can't hesitate to devour him. And while in the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, you have to carefully find the two Golden Apples in this level, which are two of the eleven hidden treasures needed to move on to the final two stages.
  • Throwing Your Sword Always Works: Dirk does this in the final segment stabbing Mordroc's arm. Mordroc tries to return the favor later, only for Dirk to catch the sword effortlessly.
  • Time Travel: The whole plot of the game...supposedly. For some reason you also end up in the purely fictional story of Alice in Wonderland. There's also the Garden of Eden segment, the historical legitimacy of which is passionately debated by atheists and the religious.
  • Tragic Monster: Daphne turns into a horrifying purple behemoth when she wears the Death Ring.
  • Trial-and-Error Gameplay: Now, taken to the extreme. On your first time playing, you'll spend at least an hour completing one 90-second scene. Two, when you play a slow reflex port of this game (for example, the DVD player port).
  • True Love's Kiss: Dirk uses this to revive Daphne at the end.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Apparently Beethoven isn't too concerned about tiny knights and warlocks jumping around his room. His cat on the other hand... It's no surprise that this scene is a Shout-Out to Beethoven's growing hearing impairment when he wrote the first part of his Symphony No. 5 in Vienna in 1804, which explains the timeline in this scene.
  • Watch Out for That Tree!: One game over sequence in the Wonderland stage involves Dirk headed splat into the trees if he fails to avoid them.
  • You Can Run, but You Can't Hide: Spoken by Daphne's mother to Dirk during the Chase Scene.
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle!: In both Level 2 and Level 6.
  • Zerg Rush: The ancient Egyptian tomb is swarming with spiders. Two of the game over sequences involve Dirk getting swarmed by hordes of spiders, one of which involves him plunging into the webs below.

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