Sunday, December 23, 2012

Drakkhen: As Close as Possible

Arriving at the last castle.

I'm sure everyone thought my comments in the "Final Rating" posting for Drakkhen were just lip service, and that I had no intention of playing it to the end. But I did give it a try. [Ed. I later won it.]

On Saturday morning, I was messing around with Space, but I had Drakkhen running next to it. I found an area in which to sit and grind and see if I could get a couple more levels before attacking the Prince of Water again. As I mentioned before, it's easy to grind in this game because the characters attack automatically. You just sit around and wait for enemies to show up and the characters start wailing on them. The only danger is that the characters might die, either from an unusually tough enemy or from an accumulation of combats, but I was in a relatively low-level area.

As the day dragged on, I forgot that Drakkhen was running. When I got back from my Christmas shopping, I realized that my PCs had been grinding for nearly 12 hours. My fighter had died at some point--early on, given his low level--but everyone else was up to Level 18! (They had been Level 10-12 when I left.)

Berowne can kill anything.

That turned out to be enough. The Prince of Water died so quickly I didn't even get a screen shot.

Price Hakkahen's subjects, looking very non-Draconian.

With his tear, I went on to the pyramid of the Prince of Fire, which was a bit of a pain. There were scattered clues about the area that let me to believe I needed to enter at a particular time of day, or be facing a particular way. I couldn't quite decipher them. It turned out to be a facing direction (roughly north) that finally got me into the castle.

"Fire and death?" All the other princes just got an element. What makes this guy so special?

The castle itself wasn't too hard for my high-level characters. In one area, there was a suit of armor that boosted my fighter's AC over 100 from around 80 before I found it.

The bearded guy showed up again and said that he'd "infiltrated" the castle.

There were a couple of other odd NPC encounters. Eventually, I found the Prince of Fire's throne room, and with about as much difficulty as I had killed the Prince of Water, I slew him.

An odd dragon that correctly knows how to use a semicolon.

After that, nothing happened. No one showed up to congratulate me, or to give me the next stage of the quest even though I had all eight tears. I wandered around for a while, trying to find someone to tell me what to do, to no avail.

Sick of the game, I broke down and read through several walkthroughs, but they weren't really any help. They all said that the endgame takes place at that flashing dragon road that kept killing  me, but every time I visited, the dragons just attacked. (Ironically, my mage and priest, with their "Shield" spells active, are now capable of killing them.) I even tried one site's suggestion that I remove all my equipment before stepping on the path, but that didn't do anything.

He won't speak to us, so we'll just kill him.

A couple of the walkthroughs suggested some "priest" (the bearded old guy?) was supposed to show up after I killed the Prince of Fire. But I replayed it several times, and he simply doesn't.

If anyone has any suggestions, I'm open to them, but beyond that, I'm done with the game. If you want to see the ending, YouTube has the Amiga version and the SNES version. It doesn't really clarify anything. Four dragons show up and cast some spell on the 8 gems to create the Ninth Tear. They say some nonsense about returning order to the world and send the party back to their own lands with a warning to stop killing dragons. As with the rest of the game, any tie-ins with the back story presented in the manual are extremely thin. The bearded priest and the "escaped human" are left a mystery.

I am glad I kept playing for one reason, though: I popped over to the inn, and flush with cash, I got a lot more tips. This one explains (sort-of) the demon dog's head that pops up every time you run into a grave marker:

I didn't see anything in the last act to change my rating. On to the next game, for good this time. [Ed. It wasn't for good. I later figured it out and won it.]


  1. I actually have the Drakkhen cartridge my grandmother bought me way back in the early nineties. I also have the same Super Nintendo. I feel a cunning plan beginning to form...

    But first I need to finish my own blog playthrough. It should only take me another fifteen years or so.

    1. Sounds like the SNES version won't be helpful; he's already read through a walkthrough on that version.

  2. I was going to suggest you do this, just leave the game running for a crazy amount of time and breeze through it. Sad that such an interesting idea goes for naught. I find that happens with a lot of old games, as the people writing the stories aren't actually writers. Even now I think games would be improved if you got actual novelists to work on the stories.

    1. Well, Kingdoms of Amalur was another recent one with a well known and popular novelist writing the storyline (R.A. Salvatore). I enjoyed it, but it did seem somewhat generic.

    2. I think you're partially right, but, honestly, I think game developers need to figure out game narratives themselves. Attaching a solidly written novel-esque narrative to a game would probably be an improvement, but it would also be somewhat unfitting. We need narratives that work with the aesthetic and the gameplay to create something emergent. Off the top of my head, Hotline Miami succeeded at this without anything like a well written story.

    3. Advent Rising had Orson Scott Card on as a writer/director. It didn't do very well.

    4. Yes, I agree with killias. (Coincidentally, I was developing a "special topics" posting just recently on this subject.) The story presented in the Drakkhen manual is clearly written by someone with some writing skill, and they hired a novelist to write the story to Dungeon Master. The problem with both of these games is that the actual gameplay isn't reflective of the story. What makes a good story for a novel isn't necessarily what makes a good story for a dynamic game; writing a good "game story" is really an art itself.

    5. That's pretty much what I was about to say. It's the same thing with games as it is for movies and for comics - writing for each has its own requirements and format limitations, and just because someone's good at one doesn't automatically make them good at another medium. Depending, they could certainly still be a better fit than the game developers themselves, but it's probably wise to make sure that a writer is prepared to engage properly with the medium before hiring them.

      PS: Orson Scott Card didn't write Advent Rising. It was largely written by the time they attached him to the project. From the sound of it he contributed some polishing and advice, and filled in some gaps, That said, the game's problems mainly lay in areas other than the writing.

    6. Well, there's Bioware, who by all accounts have a team of actual writers on every game who have a lot of input and control. Everyone likes to get all pissy about them for various reasons, but I have finished every single one of their games. Why? Because they make me want to find out What Happens Next, like a proper story would. Most games I get half-way through and I've essentially experienced all the gameplay they can provide, and it's gotten repetitive.

      So yeah, story is important. But it needs to be integrated from step one, not just dropped in at the end to tie a bunch of levels together.

    7. I agree Bioware is better, but if you look at most games they have --at best-- movie level plots, which have about as much plot as a mid-sized short story. Mass effect as a trilogy could be fit into a novella. I want to see the detail in a full length novel in a game, they just have to figure out how to do it without lots of cutscenes or long sit and listen segments (see, Audiologs, Red Dead Redemption's riding segments)

  3. Chat, have you decided which version of Nethack 3.1 you are going to play when you start that?

    1. In each case, I'm going to the last version (or the last version that I can find) in that "series." According to the wiki, that'll be 3.1.3.

    2. Have you located a DOS executable for that?

    3. Good lord, no, man. That doesn't come up until 1993. I've got three years of games to get through before I even try.

    4. Are you going to GIMLET Nethack at some stage?

    5. I'll do a GIMLET of this version either when I win or when I hit the end of 1989.

  4. I feel for this game the same way I felt about Bloodwych, to be honest. I shall spare everyone my feelings, however, because you should delete them for they are filled with comparisons to... failed births, etc etc. Starts with an 'A' people, and that's putting my feeling lightly.

    Ennyway, on to the next, Chet (Or whatever your real name is. (It's not 'Bubbles', is it?))!

  5. In the pc version you had to read the text in some tombstones (scattered across four of the castles) in a specific order in order to perform some ritual and win the game. I found a place where this seems to be explained:

    1. You actually got me to fire it up again for about 15 minutes. But no. Thanks, though, anonymous, for clearing up the mystery.

    2. From the official Cluebook:

      "You must possess the eight gems of destiny foretold. But before the
      circle may be closed and fate fulfilled, you must view once again the
      sentences graven on the tombs of the fallen. Visit once more each of
      the palaces where the figures lay and the words were written. Read
      them once more. All must be read for the destiny to be complete.
      The end is at the center of all things. Fate then leads to the lights of
      the ground, but you must enter there with empty hands. Worldly
      possessions will impede your path. A light step will complete the
      cycle and end the mystery. One final step in the right spot brings
      victory at last."

      Haven't tried it though...

    3. If you'll read ahead to January, you'll find that I did finally win it. But the existence of a "clue book" is a bit of a revelation. I just Googled the phrases in your comment and found the cluebook on the MOCAGH. I guess this needs to be my go-to site when I want to find original documentation.

    4. Yes, MOCAGH is excellent. They do their own scans and they are all hi-res.
      New stuff is added all the time and it is possible to ask for a specific game's docs to be "prioritised" for scanning if they have it.

      Another good place for doc scans, specifically for Ultima stuff, is pixsoriginadventures.

  6. I just finished the DOS game with level 13 characters (my party consisted of two priests and two scouts). The priest's level-7 "Dispel" spell (keyboard: 5) is a homing, multi-target attack spell that kills Haagg-khen and Hazhul-khen in one hit. One priest in solo mode took care of them. I was really surprised.


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