Why Don Bluth's Space Ace Should Be Adapted to Film

Dragon's Lair was an idea ahead of its time. Long before Black Mirror: Bandersnatch (2018) conceived their own choose-your-adventure film for Netflix, Cinematronics worked with former Disney animator Don Bluth and programmer Rick Dyer to develop a unique type of videogame where the player can control the hero in an animated feature. The game is able to retain its look throughout through laserdisc technology. As of March 2020, Netflix will adapt Dragon's Lair as a true animated feature film with Ryan Reynolds in talks to star and produce. The game's success allowed a sequel to be made in Dragon's Lair 2: Time Warp and its sci-fi spinoff Space Ace. Despite the latter game's non-canonical story, the Bluth titles came to be known as the Dragon's Lair trilogy. While the games been adapted across multiple consoles and the first game was also adapted to a short-lived animated series. I feel more can be done with Space Ace, given the existing appeal of other sci-fi franchises like Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon.

Why Don Bluth's Space Ace Should Be Adapted to Film
Space Ace. Image courtesy of Digital Leisure


The plot for each game the trilogy is similar. In the first two Dragon's Lair titles, you play as Dirk the Daring, who tries to save Princess Daphne from peril. In Space Ace, the player assumes the role of Ace, who, with Kimberly, tries to stop the evil Borf from using the infanto-ray on earth. While on his trail, Kimberly is kidnapped by his minions, Ace is hit by the ray and regresses into his younger teenage self as Dexter. The infanto-ray has the ability to sap the age of its victim to a younger state, but Ace was only partially affected as he randomly changes and reverts from his form as Dexter. When the player starts the game, he/she can't control every single movement as most of the action is predetermined on rails. You can make the decisions that either meant life or death for the hero, whether if it calls for the player to move in a specific direction or use his/her blaster as dictated on the screen. In other words, it allows the player to live the animated adventure in real-time and in the most "Simon Says" way possible.

Why Space Ace is A Break from the Bleak and Serious

Whether Netflix decides to go through with Space Ace as a spinoff, it could work either as an animated film or TV series, because it offers a change of pace from the tons of series sci-fi material already out there. It's a concept already being tried with CBS All Access' Star Trek animated series Lower Decks. There's plenty the streamer can do galaxy-building in the realm of Space Ace. It doesn't even need to copy everything from the game as Netflix will also have to find a way to create longevity with Dragon's Lair. If pop culture taught us anything in recent years is how there will always be a place for classic beloved IPs to be exploited. Seth MacFarlane's Ted films showed us the interest is still very much alive for Flash Gordon. With no movement with Buck Rogers, the opportunity is prime for another over-the-top cocky space adventurer to entertain audiences. There are plenty of actors, male and female who can play Ace and give them an animated sci-fi thrill ride that doesn't take itself too seriously. Watch the original intro from the game.

About Tom Chang

I'm a follower of pop culture from gaming, comics, sci-fi, fantasy, film, and TV for over 30 years. I grew up reading magazines like Starlog, Mad, and Fangora. As a professional writer for over 10 years, Star Wars was the first sci-fi franchise I fell in love with. I'm a nerd-of-all-trades.

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