Approximate Release Date: September 1, 1991
Believe it or not, there are dragons in Drakkhen, a medieval-themed RPG.
Drakkhen is a port of an Amiga RPG where you collect eight things to prevent something probably bad from happening. You do this by taking control of four customizable characters and wander around the world while exploring dungeons and fighting monsters. The game could very easily have been just a Wizardry or Might and Magic clone, but once you exit the overworld the game shifts to a side view, reminiscent of PC adventure games of this era – think Maniac Mansion. You can even control one character at a time instead of the entire party, if you want.
But trying to walk anywhere in Drakkhen is a chore, because of how slowly characters move. Most rooms in the starting castle just have you walk from one side to the other, and it takes forever. There are some things to examine and steal in between, but it can be a little iffy figuring out if an object doesn’t have any special use because it’s just for decoration or if you aren’t standing in the right spot.
Occasionally, random battles occur. You don’t have any direct control in combat, as your party will fight and swarm monsters until the fight is over. But you can order your characters to use magic or be defensive. I found the most success in Drakkhen just letting them whack away at everything. But the best part of the combat are the sounds the monsters make. The developers really use the lo-fi sounds of the SNES well to make the monsters’ noises seem actually monstrous. It gets silly when they die and explode like Mega Man, though.
One thing I really appreciate that Drakkhen provides is an in-game tutorial. Not only does it provide controls and tell you what all the pictures in the bottom do, but the game also provides advice for where to go next. Of course, you’re going to the giant castle right in front of you, but the intention is nice. There are more quality of life stuff, too. One of the options in the corner of the screen will warp you back to the overworld, so you don’t have to risk death to leave a dungeon. Your health even slowly refills over time! How generous!
Drakkhen is the kind of game I was hoping to discover with this feature. Weird, janky games that aren’t well known but are worth checking out. I’ll probably come back to this at some point.
Just don’t walk into the water. You will drown.
Tomorrow: Mayor Mike Haggar beats up thugs in his free time in Final Fight!