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Saturday, May 28, 2022

Dragon View

A game which was marketed as a sequel to Drakkhen (literally called "Super Drakkhen" in Japan, and even its copyright screen in the US refers to it as "Drakkhen II"), though it bears very little resemblance to its predecessor in terms of overall design.  While it does retain a similar side-view perspective in key areas and the pseudo-3D view for its overworld, it plays much differently, having you control a single character who can leap, cast spells via magic rings, use items and fend off enemies with two main weapons - your sword and a "hauza", a bladed boomerang that can attack at range.  Because of this, combat is based on skill rather than simple luck - how effectively you can avoid damage and land hits on enemies utilizing your own twitch skills, which makes the overall experience much more fun.  As you defeat enemies you'll earn experience points, which go toward leveling up and giving you a general boost to your stats, and as you venture through the game you'll also find upgrades in chests for your weapons, armor and rings.  Perhaps taking some cues from Zelda, you'll even earn a lot of magical artifacts throughout, which get put to use solving puzzles - from gloves that let you push statues to a magic mirror that lets you bypass barriers or block a single attack.  The presentation is phenomenal too, with some gorgeous backgrounds, gruesome enemy designs and finely polished animation throughout, and even some pretty clever and funny dialog to progress the story.  I, like probably many others, passed this one up because of its ties to Drakkhen, but upon actually playing it, I see that was a big mistake - it's a wonderfully-crafted action RPG with a lot to offer, and a definite hidden gem in the SNES's library.  And while it is a pretty scarce game these days (with bloated prices on the secondary market to match), it has gotten a re-release on Steam, so you can check it out at an affordable price.  Which you definitely should.

Developer: Kotobuki System Co. Ltd. (Kemco)
Publisher: Kemco, Piko Interactive LLC, Bleem!
Released: 1994, 2019
Platform: SNES, Windows