Drakkhen

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Drakkhen
Drakkhen Coverart.png
DOS cover art
Developer(s)Infogrames
Kemco-Seika (SNES)
Publisher(s)Infogrames
Platform(s)Amiga, Atari ST, DOS, SNES, PC-98, FM Towns Marty, Sharp X68000
Release date(s)1989, 1990, 1991
Genre(s)Role-playing game
Mode(s)Single-player
 
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Drakkhen
Drakkhen Coverart.png
DOS cover art
Developer(s)Infogrames
Kemco-Seika (SNES)
Publisher(s)Infogrames
Platform(s)Amiga, Atari ST, DOS, SNES, PC-98, FM Towns Marty, Sharp X68000
Release date(s)1989, 1990, 1991
Genre(s)Role-playing game
Mode(s)Single-player

Drakkhen is a 3D role-playing video game which was initially developed for the Amiga and Atari ST, and subsequently ported to several other platforms, including MS-DOS and the Super Nintendo Entertainment System.

Originally released by Infogrames in 1989, it was later modified for North American release by Draconian, a label from Data East, in 1990. Drakkhen was ported in 1991 to the Super Nintendo by Kemco-Seika, who made further revisions to the game.[1]

Drakkhen was notable for being among the first role-playing games to feature a three-dimensional playing field. It did not employ a fully 3D game engine, instead implementing a hybrid approach using vectors and bitmapped character-scaling algorithms. Drakkhen features an animated day-night cycle, and the ability to wander freely about the game world, both rarities for a game of its era.

The game spawned a sequel, Dragon View, for the SNES.

Contents

Background

The original French release

The setting of Drakkhen is a large rectangular continent, divided laterally into four smaller regions. Each region has its own terrain and climate, and is ruled by two members of the Drakkhen caste, with all of them living in their own keep. The continent is bounded on all sides by a vast ocean; walking into this, or any other body of water, will result in the speedy drowning of all of your party members.

Players create a party of four adventurers, choosing the gender and class of each. (In the SNES version, the available character classes are fighter, scout, magician and priest.)

Much of the game is spent travelling between castles, carrying out various political missions at the behest of the ruling Drakkhen elite. A player may also wander around without having a particular goal or destination, perhaps in the spirit of curiosity, adventure, or exploration, or to fight wildlife, monsters, and strange supernatural entities, who may yield loot and experience points if they are defeated. Serious setbacks can easily occur through the death of one or more party members in combat, and bringing them back to life will often involve difficult and arduous travel in order to reach an Anak, where healing and resurrection is performed pro bono. If all four characters succumb to injury or drowning, the player will be informed of the dire consequences for the game world, before being returned to the title screen.

Storyline and gameplay

Inside one of the castles

The storyline to Drakkhen lacked the complexity and pre-scripted dialogue commonly found in role-playing games of the time, and the plot was somewhat mystical and potentially confusing, which has been attributed to translation issues.

Drakkhen is known for its unusual sound effects; in lieu of speech, monsters and NPCs make noises that resemble belching, chittering, retching, or inarticulate rumbling. Early releases made only limited use of music during gameplay, but the game's soundtrack was expanded for the SNES version.[2]

A player may freely travel the length and breadth of Drakkhen's continent soon after beginning a new game, although this can be unwise in practice. Chance encounters with dangerous monsters are regular, and unlike many other RPGs, the player may be attacked while stationary. Players may attempt to flee from attacking monsters.

The Shadowman just before engaging your party

For the most part, enemy encounters occur randomly, though looking at certain stellar constellations at night can trigger an attack by a powerful, flying monster. Also, urn-like markers can be found at some crossroads; bumping into these immediately summons a large, black, stationary canine head that growls menacingly while shooting red energy bolts from its eyes. These encounters are quickly fatal if the player's party does not run, or is not heavily-armored.

Another notorious enemy is the powerful "Shadow Man", a tall, dark figure that would unexpectedly emerge from the ground, accompanied by an ominous tune. Fighting this monster at almost any point of the game meant certain death, which caused confusion among new players.

Continental divisions

The Drakkhen map (SNES)
Arctic Wasteland
Domain of the Prince and Princess of Air, both of whom live in large glacier-shaped castles.
Swampland (dark green)
Domain of the Prince and Princess of Water, the former living in a large castle and the latter in what resembles a pagoda. This area has the greatest number of rivers and lakes.
Grassland (light green)
Domain of the Prince and Princess of Earth, who live in identical-looking fortresses. This is where the adventure begins. In the centre is a glowing boundary that is heavily guarded.
Desert
Domain of the Prince and Princess of Fire, the former living in what resembles an Aztec pyramid and the latter in a large Taj Mahal or mosque-like building (incorrectly called a "minaret").

In the original Amiga version, crossing the borders between continental divisions would require a wait while the game loaded. In the SNES version, crossings are instantaneous; however, if the player attempts to cross between areas prematurely, they are sharply rebuked.

Reception

Drakkhen attracted a modest cult following. The game was reviewed in 1990 in Dragon #160 by Hartley, Patricia, and Kirk Lesser in "The Role of Computers" column. The reviewers gave the game 4½ out of 5 stars.[3]

Music

The Anak music is arguably derived from the song 12 O'clock by Greek composer Vangelis.

References

  1. ^ "Hardcore Gaming 101: Drakkhen". Hardcore Gaming 101. http://www.hardcoregaming101.net/drakkhen/drakkhen.htm. Retrieved 2010-02-02.
  2. ^ "Drakkhen Info". http://www.gamefaqs.com/console/snes/data/588297.html.
  3. ^ Lesser, Hartley, Patricia, and Kirk (August 1990). "The Role of Computers". Dragon (160): 47–52.

External links