This submission is for Drakkhen, a criminally underrated RPG for the SNES. The story is convoluted and has a few translation errors, but suffice it to say that bad stuff is happening and it's up to these 4 chosen humans to fix it by collecting 8 gems from the Drakkhen rulers, which only takes a little over 20 minutes.
- Emulator used: Bizhawk 2.8
- Aims for fastest time
- Sacrifices characters for lag reduction
- Abuses luck mainpulation
- Hak! Hak! Drakkhen!
Drakkhen was my first SNES game as a kid, so it holds a special place in my heart. I got the silly idea to TAS it, so here we are. The basic gist of the game is to save humanity by proving your worth to a dragon god or something, by collecting 8 gems from the princes and princesses of the island. Some of them are given to you, others are obtained through boss fights.
This TAS skips a lot of unnecessary things in the game, such as leveling up to a decent point, the use of shops, the use of certain magic, etc. During the journey you're given the most powerful weapon in the game for free, so we melee down the bosses instead of using spells. This leads to an interesting time loss/exchange that we'll get into later.
There are numerous "gates" in place to prevent you from sequence breaking. The game will only open up the next area/objective once you're done with the current one.
There are two main locations in the game; The overworld, and inside castles. The overworld has first person movement until you trigger an encounter, or walk on an area you're not supposed to like water or the flashing doritos. However, you can walk through those sections if you time it correctly. There's about 400 timers in this game so it only checks every couple seconds and not every frame. If you're in one of those zones when the timer loops, you will be forced out of the first person section and into the world to deal with whatever triggered it. Knowing this, we can skip all unnecessary encounters entirely by not being in the wrong place at the wrong time. There are occasionally minor hesitations and "wiggles" that I make in the overworld sometimes; these are for encounter avoidance, water walking, angle tweaking and so on.
One major game mechanic is a day/night cycle. During the night, more dangerous enemies tend to spawn, including flying demons that spawn from sentient constellations if you happen to be looking the wrong way when a timer loops. We avoid these with the aforementioned wiggling and angle changes. There is also a castle later in the game that is only open during the dawn. If you are there at any other point in the cycle (mid day, night, etc.) then you are not allowed to enter. The biggest time save this TAS has over the current RTA leaderboards is that we can get to the dawn castle during the FIRST dawn, which is possible to do RTA but with a convoluted path involving warps (which don't advance the day/night cycle) and getting lucky with encounter avoidance. Day/night doesn't advance when you're in a castle or a menu. Since we can avoid anything we need to, we don't delay the cycle with warps and we get to dawn castle about 7 seconds after it opens. I'll explain important mechanics as I go
The game lets you create a party which is wholly unnecessary since the pre-made party is competent enough. We lose out a very small amount of time due to not being able to change positions of the characters but we gain time not creating them so overall we come out ahead. There are 4 classes and you must pick one of each class anyway.
The fighter and scout are useless and we kill them off for lag reduction later. The Magician needs to hit level 2 to learn Unlock, which is required to open the Drawbridge Castle. The priest needs to hit level 6 to get the Speed spell, which increases our move speed considerably. There are spells beyond those but we don't need them.
We start in the Earth region outside the castle of Prince Hordkhen. We send the mage in first. This game gives "exploration" XP for the first character to go through rooms in a castle. By having the mage run to Hordkhen first, he gets enough XP to level to 2 in the only overworld encounter we take. Hordkhen tells us to go east and talk to his sister, which we'll do after a little grind.
Once we talk to Hordkhen, there is a room that will spawn unlimited Spider enemies at a rapid pace. With the strength spell (gives a huge melee damage boost for 15 "on screen" seconds (does not tick down during lag, during dialog boxes, etc) and positioning we can kill these things nearly instantly after they spawn. We send in the priest and grind for slightly over 2 minutes to hit level 6 and gain Speed.
With speed learned, we book it over to Princess Hordkha in the eastern part of the earth region. When we get there someone tells us that Prince Haagkhen kidnapped Hordkha and we need to go tell Hordkhen. This trip introduces the first Flashing Doritos Skip. That section would spawn a dragon telling us useless story things, but ironically that dorito line is where we end the game. Anyway we go through it with the timer abuse which saves time vs going around. On the return trip we force an encounter of a gold cloak lizardman. They have a chance to drop a Thiefi's Staff which while equipped lets us just walk through all locked doors in the game (there are around 16) without having to have keys or waste time casting unlock (exception is drawbridge castle, Unlock magic is required to open it and we go there twice) and by getting the mage all the explore XP, he will level up by killing the monster. EXP is earned individually and not shared. We blow up the cloak dude and manipulate the Thiefi's Staff to drop by burning 2 frames before confirming the Jade screen since this re-rolls their second item drop.
Back to Hordkhen. He's suddenly employed a shark to guard his castle. We feed the scout and fighter to the shark so we reduce lag for the rest of the game. We talk to Hordkhen and he's pissed about his sister and sends us to rescue her. He "Strengthens" our bodies, allowing us to leave the earth zone and go elsewhere on the island.
We set out to Drawbridge Castle and navigate to a room with a magical fountain that only works if the room is lit (with a spell or torch) and we lit a torch that we got from the spiders a while back so we go through. There's a dungeon and we save a prisoner who tells us that Hordkha was moved to princess Naakhtkha's castle (ice region) and that we should talk to Prince Naakhtkhen in the northeast.
Naaktkhen disposes of the gatekeeper for us, so we go east to Naakhtkha's. We roll through, open a door using a switch, and save Hordkha. She says she'll teleport to Princess Haagkha's castle (Why tf can't she just do that anyway? Why do we need to save her first?) and that we should go there too. So we do.
Haagkha is one of the "good" rulers, fighting against the "Fire Allies" who are "evil." When we meet her she tasks us with killing Prince Hordkhen. She also kindly gives us a dragon sword for free, which is the best weapon in the game. This is good.
We return to Hordkhen who attacks us but we have the aforementioned Dragon Sword, the strength spell, and the power of TAS to find the combination of inputs to kill him quickly. Melee attack success rate is influenced by position, inputs held or not held, etc. He blows up pretty fast and we report the good news to Haagkha.
Haagkha is pleased with our murderous ways. She then sends us to Dawn Castle in the southwest, where a big battle is taking/took place.
The castle is devoid of life when we get there. We go to the throne room where Princess Hazhulkha is dead and her gem was stolen! Oh no! They probably absconded with it and we'll never catch th- nah there's one enemy in the next room holding the gem, so we dispatch him and take it. Prince Naakhtkhen barges in (late) and tells us to go kill his sister Naakhtkha.
We run north for a bit and go to Naakhtkha's castle. We take a slightly different path to her and we dispatch her with the quickness... ... HOWEVER. This game was coded really well and there's a bug when you kill her with melee that makes you wait a little over 10 seconds for the next cutscene to start (Prince Naakhtkhen barging in late again.) "But Char, why not just kill her with spells?" Great question, me! It's actually decently faster to eat this time loss than it is to level the priest up to 10 for the Anti Matter spell which is the only useful attack spell in the game.
Our penultimate encounter is to go kill Haagkhen, who is a stone's throw (I mean, a really good throw) away to the south. He is extremely dangerous and can attack at any moment, so we have to deal with him. He goes down in a couple hits and we're nearly done!
We go to Hulkhogan's castle in the southeast, which can only be entered if you're facing west, something about lazy troops from that entrance or whatever. So we mosey on down, go through the surprisingly small castle and find Hulkhogan on his throne. He's potentially the easiest fight in the game. He only has melee capabilities and he can't move. In normal play this fight is basically free. I mean it's only slightly less free with the TAS, but who designs a final boss like this?
Doritos Locos Dragons
We have all 8 gems. A short walk to the Northwest gets us to the doritos where we triumphantly end the game. GG.
I really wish there were a way around that Naakhtkha bug. There's a room in Drawbridge castle that gives you exploration XP every frame due to a bug, but it takes considerably longer than 10s to get the priest enough XP to hit 10 so it's just not worth it. Beyond that I'm happy with how this turned out!
Enjoy the moonwalking over rivers!
: Claiming for judging.
: Great work! The routing looks really solid - the only grinding you do is for the Speed spell, which certainly looks like it's worth it. You did well to manipulate a very RNG heavy game. Accepting!