I’ve been home sick, so I loaded up some old ROMs of SNES games that I hadn’t played since childhood.
Dragon’s Lair is a game I once rented and couldn’t remember the title of; I knew it was something that sounded generic, but that didn’t help me. I had really thought the title had “hero” or “knight” or something in it, because it was far more about the knight than it ever was about the dragon, whom I never got far enough in the game to see. In retrospect, it isn’t quite as fun as I’d thought it was, but it isn’t terrible either. The fact that the hero is a comically dorky knight with a grating high-pitched scream was lost on me when I was young, along with the bizarre fact that on the overworld map he is basically a head on a walking pair of shoulders; I did not remember these things standing out in my mind, oddly enough.
I hear that the NES version is terrible, but the SNES version seems to have fixed many of the flaws, so it is just moderately okay. I think that my prior attachment to and interest in this game must have been based largely on the fact that it was a somewhat fun platformer that had a medieval theme. And also that it existed, because as a kid in the SNES days, that was often enough.
Drakkhen is a game for which that wasn’t enough. I remember buying it only to be very disappointed that it wasn’t the type of JRPG I was used to; we took it back to the store the next day and exchanged it for something else. It’s actually slightly better than I remember, though; in my memory all I did was wander around lost and drown a whole bunch of times, but it’s not quite that bad; it just requires patience and frequent checking of the map/compass. There is a dull sort of disconnect between myself as a player and my generic party members, who have no personality and no interactions. Not only do they not talk to each other, they don’t even talk to the plot characters; they’re just a band of silent heroes being driven from one very simple plot point to another. Add to that the fact that you don’t fight battles, but simply sit back and let the AI do its thing with whatever equipment and commands you’ve set, and I can see why it was a huge disappointment when I was a kid and a video game purchase was a big deal.
Still, the music is good, and there is a stark epicness to it as well as a feeling that this would more closely resemble a real adventure in a medieval land than the usual game. I may never get to feeling like my party members are real characters, but I could imagine developing an interest in the world and its legends and scenario.
I can’t say that either of these games are really gems, but I’m glad to be able to pull up something I have only dim memories of and take another look at it. I’m so grateful that emulators and ROMs make it possible for me to load them up on a whim, when otherwise I might never have had the resources to pursue something like this just out of curiosity when I don’t own the pak or a working system. I love technology.