Friday, January 4, 2013

Drakkhen: Won!

Never cross the streams!

It kept eating at me.

In what I otherwise thought was my final posting, an anonymous commenter linked me to a message board where a quirk in the Amiga and PC versions of the game was explained. To win the game, I apparently needed to re-visit four of the castles in which there were a pair of sepulchers, and to read the messages on them to assemble some kind of incantation.

 
I have no idea where in the game I would have gotten any hint to do this. Apparently, these messages aren't available when you're visiting the castles during the main game; they only appear after the characters have the last of the tears.

Since I'd already watched the endgame from the SNES version on YouTube, and I'd already completed my GIMLET for the game, at the time I didn't feel compelled to apply this new intelligence.

But it kept eating at me.

So yesterday, when I should have been playing Curse of the Azure Bonds, I fired up Drakkhen again and put the time into winning it.

I couldn't remember which of the six explorable castles had the sepulchers, so I had to explore all of them. I found three, in castles of air, water, and fire, fairly easily. I figured the fourth had to be in the one explorable earth castle, so I spent some extra time there, and I ended up finding a whole secret area that had eluded me on the first trip. It depended on first fiddling with a skull in one area to open a secret door in another...


...and then having one character stand on a grate to open yet another secret door.

 
In the end, I had visited all eight sepulchers in all four rooms, and together they made the phrase:

FROM YOUR HUMBLE SERVANTS
TO ALMIGHTY GOD
SOURCE OF LIFE AND DEATH
FREE THE REMORSE

 
With this incantation, the next step was to go to the flashing dragon highway for the endgame. In yet another aspect of the game that I don't know how I was supposed to figure out, all characters have to be bereft of equipment when they enter the road. At that point, four dragons land and the endgame commences.

 
The final messages make reference to magic being restored in the human world and a warning not to hunt any more dragons. But many of the game's elements--including the identity of the bearded guy--remain a mystery, and many of the plot threads established in the manual never appeared in the game itself.

You may notice that I ended the game with a dead character. Even with almost 110,000 gold pieces, he didn't have enough money for resurrection.

I posted a 20-minute video to YouTube that highlights many of the game elements and includes the endgame. 


The final screen promises an unnamed sequel, but I'm not sure it emerged quite the way the developers intended. There is a sequel, of sorts, variously called Super Drakkhen, Drakkhen II, and Dragon View, but it was released only for the SNES and it's a side-scrolling action game. I glanced at a walkthrough, and it doesn't seem to offer the same setting or story as Drakkhen, with the possible exception of jade pieces. You can see the gameplay on YouTube.


Now I'm done with the game.

36 comments:

  1. Let me be the first to congratulate you.

    And let me just add for the record that I don't think the CAPTCHA "agraquit" is proper at all.

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    1. Contextual captchas. What will they think of next?

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  2. This post put a smile on my face.

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  3. I appreciate your diligence in tying up loose ends. Your integrity really helps make this blog so special.

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  4. Not sure I would have had the patience to go back like this, but I bet you feel quite the sense of accomplishment now!

    Will it affect your GIMLET in any way (positively or negatively)?

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    1. Yes! I meant to put that in the posting. I took away a point for having an ending that was essentially undiscoverable during normal gameplay.

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    2. Were there any hints in the manual or anything? I can't imagine how you'd figure this out pre-internet (unless they had some sort of expensive phone number to call for hints!)

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    3. Not in the manual. It's possible that I overlooked some hint or message in the game. But I still don't think it makes sense that such a counter-intuitive ending should hinge on a single message.

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  5. what do you have to do with the incantation?
    Or do you just walk down the road naked?

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    1. You don't really "do" anything with it; you just have to have seen it.

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  6. Awesome, I love RPGS and reading your articles makes me wanna do the same conquest, hehe. Congrats !!

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  7. I wish to note that Dragon View is an action-RPG rather than a straight action game--and a pretty dern good one, at that. As I recall, however, it's true that it has little in common with its predecessor story-wise.

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    1. I highly recommend this if you have a gamepad - the game has funny writing and an interesting plot and action. It's not a CRPG by any stretch but it's worth playing.

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    2. Yes, it is quite good. It's rare to encounter a console game with a real PC feel. Can't think a reason why they haven't released it on PCs.

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  8. And this is why you call yourself an addict I guess. You can't just let go of a game that you haven't finished. :-)

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    1. That hasn't always been true. My completion rate is only about 52%. But I've been trying to cut down on non-completions. My last was Bloodwych, and even that one ended a pretty long winning streak.

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    2. Don't forget that as the years go and the production values go up, there will be less and less unplayable games. Even if they are boring and uninteresting there is still enough structure and coherence that you can play the game. Unlike some early games. Thus it becomes harder to justify dropping a game.

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    3. True, but I suspect the games will also take longer and longer, giving me significant incentive to call an end early if I'm not enjoying them.

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  9. What was in the secret area in the Earth castle? Goodies?

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    1. I think there might have been some armor and weapons in there, but nothing better than what I already had. The main reason to go was to visit one of the coffin pairs.

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  10. Another question I meant to ask: How do you calculate hours played in a game like this where you have had the game on for a day without actually being at the computer and playing?

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    1. Great question. I actually just used the hours that I was focusing on the game, and thus excluded the background grinding that would have added another 8-10. So far, there really aren't any games "like this," so it hasn't been a consideration.

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    2. Ah, nice to know. I guess it is a rare game that can grind by itself without human input.

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  11. This is a nice post; Length is a bit short, but it is all focused on one point. I'm watching your vid again, can you fix the levelling? Your voice is quite quite in comparison to the game volume, when it is your commentary I want to hear.

    I do this a few shorter vids would be more interesting then a 20 minute one.

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  12. I can't recall ever finding anything within the game telling you how to finish it. You had to use spoilers, or at least I did. And this was in the early 90s, when primordial swamps covered much of Earth's landmass and spoilers were not easy to come by; magazine hints and extortionately-priced tip lines were about your lot. I mean, I suppose reading the inscriptions wasn't so very many light years from fairness, but the naked thing. Honestly. How did the first person do it? Did the developers realize what they'd wrought and carry out clandestine journalist briefings, or otherwise leak the intel into the wild? Was there an old man in some corner of the desert who laid it out for you? It is not a fair game. Anyway, nice work!

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    1. There's a special topics posting in here somewhere: "The X Most Unfair CRPG Puzzles" or something. I'd include this, the password in Wizardry IV, and...what else?

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    2. Apologizing right away for the random auto corrections my phone does but I wanted to answer the question concerning where you learn of 1) the disarming thing 2) the coffins riddle.

      Now this is no defence of the obfuscatory nature of information in the game mind you, though I personally love it and the game with no coloring by nostalgia. I think it's a special game that's a sort of puzzle or game extrinsically, outside itself and I can't help but love the journey of interpreting and sorting out all the odd ends one will invariably encounter in this monstrous thing. Furthermore I can't speak solidly to the all differences in all aspects to the various versions though I am probably quite familiar with most.

      One thing I'm saddened you missed seemingly is what i think is the priest of the desert anak. Above Tomsk asked if the answer to (1) was in some old man in a corner of the desert and it just so happens that that's basically one source on the matter. Something to keep in mind here is that I am quoting my own hand written record of dialogues that I painstakingly scribed in my playing and kept with my copy physically because I felt it was important to keeping track of all the bits that never seemed to mean anything or any sense when you heard them but always fit in later and were anything but unimportant or irrelevant.

      I was sad you missed this bit seemingly mainky because of the additional allusions to the plot in your manual, the true plot of the game (the snes manual tells a completely wrong and irrelevant tale). There is even perhaps some Clark's 3rd law stuff going on here thats fun food for thought. The priest of the desert, Whickhen, reveals these things: The dragons are aliens who traversed space to this world with the ability to control time. "Time's stern rule was bent, a path unerring traced, arcing past endless dark and starry waste. They came in peace to see and know. But human folly, friend made fearsome foe for their first intent." Humans had made enemies of the dragons perhaps having slain one and drove the dragons away and this took magic from the human continent, perhaps only there because of the dragon's presence. It's said somewhere that the dragons make the drakkhen and prophet the doom of men by way of the drakkhen in the manuals I think and this depicts them of the station of gods. The dragons leave the tears. And also a special place to meet with them, again with certain revelations perhaps technological but in drakkhen it is considered a divine and holy place. Old man appears in an adjacent grave formation to say "we are now near the islands center, the sacred place, without its blessing none are allowed to enter". It is the Dragon Light Road. Whickhen continues, "they left a shining part, a furrow of light ploughed in the world's

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    3. deep heart, forces protect it, punishment awaits, those whose feckless would mockery make of fate. Woe to those who go blindly and use the unknown path. For curiosity, they will pay on their divine way to misery. If you have tears, GO FORTH BARE, with no fears and speak your disires. The dragons will light the godly fire and usher in the age to be. And your name will know eternity." My emphasis for pointing it out and i know it's not exactly plain and on display.


      My other note for (2) isn't as strong since I don't have the location of its mention marked but there was a tapestry or old man who remarks that you should "seek 8 spells hidden riddles in the heart carved in stone coffins buried in tombs below." You encounter a set of 2 soon nearby if I remember rightly. There is some mention too elsewhere of the incantation and invokation that will something or other. Another line of evidence is the nagging question of what all the otherwise pointless wings of each castle are good for. Some don't even have equipment. The wonder is enough I think to suspect the features of the coffins and their odd markings are something with the several texts that talk of coffins too. It's a rough murky task though for certain.

      But speaking of things referred to and seemingly pointless yet pervasive. I was wondering, did you make anything of the fountains? "Blessed are those who wet their lips at the holy fountain."

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    4. In light of what i wrote above, perhaps you can see why your "day the earth stood still" reference tickled me.

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    5. Scraggle, I apologize if this isn't the case, but I have a tough time believing that any NPC in this game offered up that much expository text. The length and style don't go along with any other NPC in the game.

      I Googled "Drakkhen" and "Whickhen" and got several references ot the SNES version. Is that the basis of your recollection? Because as we discussed throughout these posts, the DOS version is VERY different from the SNES version, and unless you're sure that NPC can be encountered in the DOS version, I'm not prepared to believe he exists.

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    6. http://www.gamefaqs.com/boards/588297-drakkhen/71869411/821760054
      Here is a link where somebody else wrote out the text so it's there for certain and I wholly agree about it being uncharacteristic which is a good part of my motive to mention it. That is a forum for the snes version and I do own both the dos (abandonware) and the snes versions but I don't know if he's there and says that for both. I wrote it down from one version or the other though; that's true. I hope you don't doubt that anymore at least. Your right about the differences and that's why I preemptively mentioned that too and the nature of my recount but it's worth noting that those elements aren't a part of the snes win condition too and are at least left over from other versions, in so far as that. Anyway it's an old article and I'm sure it's removed from your system but I figured maybe you'd be interested in the fire anak and remember if you had popped in or not.

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  13. The real drakkhen 2...

    http://www.abandonware-france.org/ltf_abandon/ltf_jeu.php?id=1434

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  14. This is awesome to see. I'm not sure how I missed it. I guess I was avoiding possible spoilers for some reason. Beat the game on the SNES recently, so I thought I'd share some thoughts.

    The SNES version doesn't require the same draconian triggers to end the game. The tombs and messages are there, but don't do anything and are rather butchered:

    Earth Castle - "the almighty..." "...the gods."
    Air Castle - "from your humble.." "...servants."
    Water Castle - "of life and death..." "...the source."
    Fire Castle - "remorse..." "...must be accepted."

    The clue to seek those out was at the Anaks, but I'd guess it was a holdover from the PC version of the game. I found a bit of text that described the old man that kept appearing as the old priest. The SNES version's story was run through the translation shredder a few too many times, and the US publisher did it's best to make sense of it, but the whole first expedition to the island with the priest they left behind didn't make it. Now that I've read that back story it makes a bit more sense.

    Overall the SNES port seems the easiest to complete. I was only level 8 by the end.

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  15. Thank you adduct for finishing this. I played this on the snes as a kid and couldn't figure out what was going on at all, wonder if a manuel woukd have helped. I always wondered about it, thanks for playing it through to the end.

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