September 1, 1991 — Drakkhen

I’ve repeatedly tried to find something to like about Drakken — and there’s nothing to like.

Problematic right from the start in 2021.

Right from the start, Drakkhen and clunky and hard to play. It’s a port from a bygone era when gamers would read a book or pore over the games included materials before and during play.

Originally released for PC, Drakkhen came with a book of short stories written by, of all people, Gary Gygax, creator of D&D. That book would have offered context and direction to PC gamers, but the SNES port aimed bridge that gap in the re-work.

But that all got lost in translation and then lost in translation again as the SNES version’s story was re-written by a French team, translated into Japanese, and then translated again into English. Ultimately, you’re collecting some crystals to save/destroy the Drakkhen… a dragon.

Originally developed by Infogrames (which seems like a typo of InfoGAMES), Kemco-Seika is responsible for this port, but Kemco is also responsible for Lagoon, released just a few months after Drakkhen, which is significantly more playable.

There are a lot of problems with this games narrative. Your party starts, for some reason, in the middle of a field a short distance away from a castle you’re instructed to travel towards.

Exploring the castle is frustrating because each character shambles along like an octogenarian. There are a few enemies which the party fights automatically (as if fight mechanics would be too much fun), but there are also some NPCs that make a threatening noise but don’t seem to attack you.

There are items to collect in the castle, but if you leave, the castle resets so you can collect an infinite amount of swords and bucklers in literally the first room. There’s a key to collect in the basement, but it looks like a single red pixel, which I managed too see on my 4k monitor, but if you played this back in 1991 on a standard 18-inch tube TV it would have been game-breakingly difficult… unless the pixels were bigger back then?

Out of the first castle, you’re just kind of directed to go see a princess in another castle (imagine that), but I lost interest after most of my party died from getting attacked by a cat head and then a weird hairy old man wouldn’t let me continue towards the next castle.

I honestly can’t go back into playing this game again.

Total play time: About 1 gruelling hour.