Our next Trading Card Spotlight features Alan Pinion who currently is displayed on card number 976, from the Superstars of 2014 Collection. Alan is a lifelong fan of the laser disc arcade games. Dragon’s Lair series as well as Cliffhanger and Firefox. He collected so many laser disc items he was featured in Syd Bolton’s “Collecting for Dragon’s Lair and Space Ace”. Alan also owns the original painted artwork that was used for the Super Nintendo version of Dragon’s Lair, plus a M.A.C.H. 3 arcade game. He own kits that will allow him to play Space Ace, Dragon’s Lair II, and Thayer’s Quest in his Dragon’s Lair cabinet, Goal to Go will plas on his Cliffhanger cabinet. Us vs Them and Cobra Command will run in the M.A.C.H. 3. Alan recently worked with New Wave Toys on their mini version of Dragon’s Lair to answer their questions on the original game.
Of the Dragon’s Lair, Space Ace franchise, which one do you like the best and why?
Space Ace is the superior game. Unlike Dragon’s Lair, there are multiple ways to get through the game. When the energize option is on the screen you can choose if you want to energize or not, which changes up the scene. At the start of the game you choose the Cadet, Captain, or Space Ace level, which also adds additional scenes. Christopher Stone composed the music for Dragons Lair and Space Ace. While Dragon’s Lair had musical cues in the game, Space Ace has music running through the entire game. I still prefer Dragon’s Lair. Playing through the last scene still reminds me of finishing the game for the first time with a packed arcade watching me slay the dragon.
When you first played Dragon’s Lair, what was your impression and where did you play it?
I was at Big Al’s arcade and saw on the outside pictures of a cartoon taped to the window. This was the flyer for the game, but I was 13 at the time and did not know what a flyer was. I was wondering what these pictures had to do with the arcade. The I saw most of the arcade gathered around 1 machine with a monitor on top. I could not believe what I was seeing. People were playing a beautifully animated game. I put my tokens on the marquee to wait my turn. I did not know what I was doing and was killed in 3 moves. I scored 147 points, which is the minimum score for 3 lives (you get 49 points just for entering a room). I wanted to learn about this game. I was at the barber shop and I saw a magazine called Technology Illustrated. Dragon’s Lair was on the cover. I was reading about how the game worked and found out that it was using a laserdisc player for the animation. After my haircut I wanted to finish reading the article. The owner let me keep the magazine. I am still collecting any magazine that mentions Dragon’s Lair. I was determined to finish the game, which I eventually did.
What are your opinions about today’s generation of video games? How do you compare them to older, classic games?
Today’s video games are amazing. The graphics, sound, and variety are unparalleled. They are much more complicated than classic games. If I take some time off from playing a modern game, it takes me awhile to remember what each button on the controller does. You also do not have printed manuals anymore to check the controller layout. A classic game usually has simpler controls and does not have that problem.
Did you ever think when you were younger you would be on a video game trading card?
Absolutely not. One of my first hobbies was collecting baseball cards. I never thought I would see myself on one.
Have you ever received any media coverage for your appearance on the trading card? If so, where?
Not yet. The card has gotten me work in the video game field. New Wave Toys posted that they were designing a 12” working cabinet replica of Dragon’s Lair. I replied that I was a big fan of the game and was looking forward to it. I also posted a picture of my card. They replied to me and said they could use an expert on Dragon’s Lair to help them make the most accurate version possible. I helped them with their questions and made my recommendations on the cabinet. I am also currently working with iiRcade on their version of Dragon’s Lair.
Do you remember your first video game / arcade you played and what do you remember about it?
Yes. I do remember playing Space Invaders. I may have just been pushing the buttons and watching the attract screen. I have enjoyed video games ever since. That led to my interest in computers and technology, which is what I do for a living.
When did you first meet Walter Day and where was it at?
I first met Walter Day, who was with Billy Mitchell, at the Classic Gaming Expo in 2003 at Las Vegas. I had seen them on the MTV episode True Life: I’m a Gamer. I later met Walter and Billy in 2014 at the first Southern Fried Gaming Expo in Atlanta. I spoke with Walter for a while and later messaged him about getting my own card. I have a large Dragon’s Lair collection and was featured in a book written by Syd Bolton called Collecting For: Dragons’ Lair and Space Ace. I also worked on a version of Dragon’s Lair on the Nintendo DS, and was interviewed in GamesTM magazine about it. He decided to make a card about me. In 2018 I saw Walter and Billy again at Dragon Con. I had not seen him in 4 years, and he recognized me. This past year Walter was on PlanetScott.TV. I asked a question in the chat room. The host said my name and Walter started talking about my association with Dragon’s Lair. The man’s memory is amazing!
What is your favorite console game and what makes that one special?
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. I was playing this every day until 3 or 4 am every day and getting up a few hours later to go to work. I loved the game play and the story. It was a hard game to put down.
If you could describe Walter Day in one word, what would that word be and why?
One word is tough. I will go with visionary. He was the first person that recognized that people that played video games wanted to see if they were the best in the world at their game, not just at their local arcade. I remember watching the video game tournament on That’s Incredible that he was a part of. Competitive gaming is huge now, with tens of thousands of people in person watching person and many more watching online. You can star that started in the early 1980’s in Iowa thanks to Walter. His also one of the nicest guys I have ever met.
What is your favorite portable gaming device and why?
The Nintendo DS. I love the 2-screen setup. I could also play online against other people using WiFi.
What games today do you play and what are your favorite genres of games?
I mainly play first person shooters and adventure games. I like RPG’s but the amount of time you must dedicate to them is way too much.
If you could have one arcade you do not own yet, what would it be and why?
I would love to own the arcade game Journey. It was fun to get them to their concert and hear Separate Ways. I found out that is a rare cabinet and I doubt I will ever find one. I would like a Gyruss, which would be more realistic to own.
Are video games today aimed mainly at children, adolescents or adults?
Games are aimed at everyone. I do believe console games are pushed hard at teens to people in their 30’s. Companies know this group wants to play the game first and will buy the game at full price and not wait a few months until the inevitable price drops.
Do you believe some video games are too violent and lead to violence in America today?
No. Video games have been around for close to 50 years now. It is easier to blame video games as a simple solution to a much larger and complex problem.
Do you prefer playing video games alone, against friends or online against the world and why?
I still enjoy playing alone. The majority of games I play are single player only.
Are video games good for relieving stress?
Absolutely. If I get stressed, I can play for a while and feel relaxed.
Do you like it when Hollywood makes a movie from the video game?
Sometimes. I am looking forward to the live action Dragon’s Lair movie that was announced for Netflix. I hope the animated Dragon’s Lair by Don Bluth gets made someday.
Who is your favorite video game character and what makes that character special?
Dirk the Daring from Dragon’s Lair. He comes off as a bumbling knight, but he never stops until he completes his goal. That is, unless he is being controlled by someone that does not know what they are doing. Then he will be killed in a variety of ways.
What springs to mind when you hear the term ‘Dragon’s Lair’?
A beautifully animated game that almost 40 years later I am still obsessed with.
Do you find boss battles to be the best part of a video game?
Maybe not the best, but usually the hardest part of any game.
What is your favorite single player game and favorite multiplayer game?
My favorite single player game is of course Dragon’s Lair. I did enjoy playing Plants vs Zombies with my kids.
Are you still involved with gaming today, and what role do you play?
I finished up working with New Wave Toys and their 12” Dragon’s Lair cabinet. I am going to be consulting with IIRcade on their home arcade version of Dragon’s Lair.
Do you still play Dragon’s Lair, and do you still own the machines?
I have owned my Dragon’s Lair since 2002. I took the marquee with me to the Classic Gaming Expo in 2002 and got the 4 main creators (Don Bluth, Gary Goldman, John Pomeroy, and Rick Dyer) to sign it. I did play the game a good bit again when I was working with New Wave Toys on their version of Dragon’s Lair to answer their questions on the original game.
Where do you see video gaming in the next 20 years?
I think physical media will be a thing of the past. The new generation of consoles are already starting to push for this by having cheaper versions that do not include a physical drive. I have been hearing about virtual reality for at least 30 years. Maybe in 20 years it will be perfected enough so we will not know if what we are playing is real or not.