Drakkhen is a three-dimensional RPG which was created by French developers 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 Europe in 1989, it was released in North America in 1990. Gary Gygax helped to write the plot and designed parts of the gameplay and many of the monsters.
In the beginning the world was bound to the dragons, the source of all magic. A prophecy proclaimed that if they ever died out, humanity would be destroyed as the Drakkhen (scaly half-dragon Humanoid Abominations) emerged to rule. One day, a particularly stupid paladin found and challenged the last of the dragons. After a difficult battle, he managed to slay it, and with its dying breath the beast screamed the curse the triggered The End of the World as We Know It.
You control a party of four adventurers sent to an island (the only place where magic still exists) to negotiate with the warring Drakkhen rulers, all in an attempt to gain a pardon for the actions of the stupid paladin. Some of the Drakkhen are benevolent and actually help you, but most of them are evil, so of course that means you have to kill them.
And that's the plot...for all the versions except the SNES version. Which had a drastically different plot period: the "Drakkhen" in the SNES version were the regular humans who had eight special gems stolen by four elemental dragon kings, that then divided them between their children, each dragon having a son and daughter. The party is sent to the homeland of the eight dragon princes and princesses to retrieve the gems and wrest control of the universe from the dragons. About the only thing that's the same between all versions is that some of the royalty are benevolent and most are evil.
A semi-sequel, Dragon View, was released for the SNES. It retained the 3D travel map, but changed the core gameplay to a single-character, side-scrolling hack n' slash in the style of Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, along with scripted cutscenes and a much more coherent plot.
This game provides examples of:
- Antagonist Title: Species Title-type One-Word Title.
- Awesome, but Impractical:
- Strength spell, the one attack spell known by all characters. Boosts damage at the expense of getting NOTHING at all from the monsters aside from experience.
- Attack spells in general can be this as your wizards will easily burn through their ENTIRE MP pool and possibly never hit any more than once or twice, depending on their ability to hit accurately. Waiting several seconds to regain enough MP to immediately fire one more spell off before waiting again can sometimes mean waiting for enemies to pelt you with their own spells while you recharge.
- Against the bosses, regular weaponry starts to fall into this category as running up to smack them with your big Dragon Sword will see said character standing naked in a second and getting immediately murdered the next. Bows can keep your party safer and, if your mages are good enough, spells can devastate them....IF they hit...
- "Blind Idiot" Translation: The SNES port, by virtue of having the initial French script translated into Japanese, then translated into English with the help of the original French dev team. The weird game of Telephone played with the translation resulted in the SNES version outright having a drastically different plot than the original releases.
- Boring, but Practical: The Bow & Arrow. It's the third weakest weapon with a somewhat shoddy attack strength of 15 (Comparatively, the Short Swords easily attainable in the very first dungeon right in front of you at the start of the game has an attack of 32), and is only found as a random drop from monsters or occasionally sold in shops, which are Guide Dangits depending on how familiar with the game the player is. However, they are ranged weapons and thus perfect for your Squishy Wizards or for your whole party when facing any of the aerial monsters that can't be attacked from the ground.
- Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp": They're not temples, they're Anaks!
- Clown-Car Grave: There is a coffin in one room of Haaggkhen's Castle that will infinitely spawn zombies.
- Early Game Hell: The game is really pretty difficult all the way through, but it's at its worst during the early stages of the game when you have pitiful equipment and can't take more than a few hits before a character needs resurrected.
- Early-Installment Weirdness: Even though its sequel, Dragon View, is only mildly related, both are fantasy style RPG's, though while Dragon View is a standard action-RPG with stereotypically medieval fantasy elements, this one is more of a dungeon crawler style reminiscent of Dungeons & Dragons and features both typical monsters one would see in most other RPG's and....shadows crawling up from the ground? Killer tidal waves? Loose running campfires? A wireframe man swinging a sword around its head? Flying popcorn monsters?....What?
- Easy Levels, Hard Bosses: Of sorts. The actual dungeons may be mazes, but for the most part, it's not hugely difficult to navigate them so long as your party is appropriately leveled and you've kept up with your gear. The Drakkhen bosses, on the other hand, will hand you your party's heads if you don't prepare adequately, and even then, it's a matter of luck, sometimes.
- Everything Trying to Kill You: Hell, sometimes the constellations themselves will decide to turn into big, insane, practically unkillable monsters who fly down from stars and try to slaughter you. Oh, and don't you dare try to run over any random grave markers you come across, or you will face the wrath of a giant demon dog head that shoots lasers from its eyes.
- Exposed to the Elements: Can happen to your characters if all their armor is broken, leaving them in effectively their underpants in either the Air or Fire lands, the ice land and desert respectively. Doesn't affect gameplay whatsoever as neither exposure to the sun and heat of the desert or frostbite from the ice is a thing.
- Guide Dangit: There's a LOT that isn't openly obvious in this game:
- Given that the merchant is a random encounter, the player might be forgiven for thinking they cannot sell items and Jade is useless as they could go a whole game and maybe never encounter the merchant at all. However, only WANDERING merchants are random. There is an inn not marked on the map in the Earth lands that will always have the merchant available to buy and sell equipment. This is only hinted at by an encounter near said inn on a specific path in the Earth land.
- Two of the palaces cannot be entered straight away even when the plot demands the player go there as attempting to do so will have them stopped at the door by guards. What the player is supposed to do is wait for specific times of day before they're allowed entry (one at dawn, the other at dusk). This is only hinted at by one of the surrounding houses, which the player may wind up ignoring as most other homes have little of value.
- Unless you happen to notice it while the specific equipment is in their inventory, most players may not realize that your mages can wear additional armor under their robes. In particular, both the magician and the priest classes can wear most of the lighter armors (shirt, jacket, leather, leather plate, and chain mail). The magician can wear the Heavy Cuirass and Greaves, while the priest can wear the Power Cuirass and Light, Medium, or Hyper Greaves in addition to whatever Coat/Robes they're also wearing. Unless the player happens to experiment with various equipment, there's NOTHING indicating this is possible, a shame as it is a significant boost to the defense of your Squishy Wizards (+40 Defense for the magician, +65 for the priest with the best armors they can wear added).
- Hopeless Boss Fight: Sometimes you'll get a Random Encounter where this big, black shadow dude will crawl out of the ground. Unless your characters are ridiculously high leveled, don't try to fight him. He'll kill every single one of them almost instantly.
- Many of the Desert encounters are this. A handful are no harder than any of the other lands, but about 75% of the encounters are either the dragons falling from the sky, flying monsters much like the constellation monsters, or the dreaded "I Love You" monster, all of which will kick your ass easily even if you are at high level.
- Hot as Hell: One monster you may encounter is a very naked she-devil.
- Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Hazhulkha is found in her throne room with a spear stuck in her chest.
- Infinity +1 Sword: The Dragon Sword, which has an impressive attack power of 80, is given about halfway through the game for free by Princess Haaggkha before the first actual boss fight, interestingly enough. More can be found as drops or bought from merchants, though ones bought in stores may randomly have increased attack power.
- Informed Equipment: Of your available gear, the only change in your sprite is whether you're wielding a dagger, sword, rod, bludgeon, or bow, and even then the difference between the dagger and swords is the length of the sprite. Otherwise, equipment is shown on your character portrait but not their in-game sprites.
- Luck-Based Mission: And HOW! Much of the game is up to sheer luck what will happen, from the enemies encountered, items dropped, to even how battles go. In many ways, the game is Dungeons & Dragons in all but name with how battles are waged, with no two encounters with the same enemy going exactly the same. One enemy during one encounter may give you enormous trouble while the next time it's an absolute pushover.
- Mooks Ate My Equipment: Not in a literal sense, but many of the stronger enemies are capable of destroying your armor.
- Nintendo Hard: This is a very difficult game. It will take at least several tries to beat it.
- Patchwork Map: The island is divided into four regions of equal size. From north to south, we have an icy arctic wasteland, a swampy region riddled with lakes and rivers, a generic grassland with trees and the occasional pond, and a desert.
- Peninsula of Power Leveling: As mentioned above in Clown-Car Grave, the coffin in Haaggkhen's castle will spawn a zombie if touched and respawns instantly once the battle is over, making it a great place to grind experience.
- Random Encounter: Even while you're just standing still they happen. Even merchants are randomly encountered. Encounters in the dungeons, however, are fixed.
- Shop Fodder: This is essentially all Empty Phials are used for, selling for 2500 Jade. This actually is somewhat useful as you can buy MP or HP Phials, use them up to 7 times, and then sell the empty bottle for Jade
- Super Drowning Skills: Try to cross any body of water and your characters will drown in seconds. Although taken to ridiculous heights, as water will start to sap away HP on contact.
- Tech-Demo Game: In 1989, 3D graphics were a real novelty.
- Trauma Inn
- Wide-Open Sandbox: Well, sort of. After you complete the bit of stuff at the beginning, you are free to explore the world as you wish... at your own risk.