RESCUING DRAGONS LAIR

<In 1983 Cinematronics found its solution in the form of Dragon’s Lair. It was a pioneer game, an animated laserdisc title drawn by veteran Disney animator Don Bluth that demanded not one but two of my hard-earned quarters to play.

It quickly became an instant star in any arcade that paid $4,200 (or more) for a Dragon’s Lair cabinet. It wasn’t unusual to see it situated at the entrance of an arcade, surrounded by a crowd that spilled out of the front doors. Cinematronics even offered a satellite monitor for the top of the game so that more onlookers could follow along with other people’s gameplay.

But the game had problems from the get-go — chief among them was the unreliable home-use Pioneer PR-7820 laserdisc player and later, the LD-V1000. Fast-forward 30 years and this is where the Dexter laserdisc replacement joins our story: Dexter attempts to solve a number of laserdisc-game issues with modern hardware by completely removing the need to have a laserdisc player in your machine. For $359, you get an updatable solid-state replacement for your ancient and failing laser player.

Laserdisc game owners today have several major problems to overcome to keep the games running, including laser rot and failing player parts. Players can be fixed, to a point, but eventually there simply won’t be any left, as the moving parts are doomed to fail and replacements no longer exist.

Then there’s the laser rot. Discs can oxidize over time from scratching and eventually refuse to play. Alternatively, they might show so many artifacts that the game looks awful. If you’re able to find a replacement disc, it can cost as much as $500 (for a Dragon’s Lair Limited Edition), and no facility is making new ones. Basically, then: Laserdiscs are dead and players are dead. Everything is doom and gloom for fans and collectors.

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