When you beat the game, you'll see that one of the programmers, Osamu Tani, signed his name in the end credits with a statue of a guitar. However, if you finish the game with any dead party members, an extra guitar will appear for each member. Here is what it looks like when you beat the game with 4, 3, 2, and 1 living party members, respectively:
It's also possible for what seems to be a "punk rocker" face to show up during this screen in the ending, but the conditions for getting it to appear are unknown at this time. Rey Esteban of the Videogame Museum has donated a screenshot of the ending with the "punk face" visible:
Ending for Drakkhen at the Video Game Museum
The funny thing is, he clearly has all four party members alive during the ending, yet that screenshot shows all four guitars and the head. There must be some way to achieve this ending that's unrelated to having your characters being dead at the time (perhaps it's a timed thing?) If anyone knows for sure, contact me.
Stored with the overworld background graphics are two frames of a running calico cat. The cat is not used for anything and its purpose is unknown.
At the end of the moon phases is a smirking happy face. Of course, this is never seen during the actual game.
The menu graphics include a bucket that has what appears to be slime, moss, ivy, or green paint covering part of it. This item was left over from the Amiga and PC versions where it appeared on the inventory screen. In the PC versions, you dropped items by clicking on them and dragging them into this bucket. On the SNES version, items are dropped with a menu command, so the bucket wasn't necessary.
Princess Hazhulkha has frames for animation stored in memory, although since she is dead when you meet her, two of them (the second and third from the left) are not used. It may have been planned at one point for you to be able to talk to Hazhulkha before she is killed.
Credit for this discovery and the pictures goes to West of The Cutting Room Floor.
In the Amiga/PC versions of Drakkhen, this was an enemy that appeared inside the castles and covered certain doors. You'd have to destroy it to be able to go through the door. Although all of its sprites exist in the SNES version's ROM, the enemy had been left unused.
Excised Coffin Sidequest?
The painting in Prince Hordkhen's room says, "At the cross of the four coffins the total energy will be returned." I'm not really sure what this is referring to, if anything.
Indeed, there are two coffins beyond Hordkhen's chambers with the messages "The Almighty..." and "...the Gods". This seems like it was meant to be important, but I haven't been able to figure out any meaning behind all of it.
Things get even more interesting in Naakhtkha's Castle. There's a message on a wall that says to "Seek the 8 spells hidden in the heart of the riddles carved into the stone coffin buried in the tombs below". Now it definitely sounds like these coffins were supposed to have some significance, but as far as I know, you can't learn any spells from them. Spells are only ever acquired by leveling up.
Farther on in Naakhtkha's Castle are two coffins that say, "From your humble..." and "...servants".
Haaggkhen's Castle has two coffins that say, "Of life and death..." and "...the source".
If anyone has any more information on these coffins, please contact me and let me know.
Several rooms in the castles contain these odd pentagram designs on the floor. One of them is hidden so deep in Hordkhen's Castle that you have to find two hidden switches to eventually reach it. But they don't seem to actually do anything.
The Mysterious Stars
East of the Glowing Road in the Earth Area there is a strange star pattern on the ground.
The center of the star has a pair of triangles joined at one point.
There is also an identical star in the Air Area and in the Fire Area. (I was not able to find one in the Water Area.) Although these stars look conspicuous and seem like they could be important, they have no known purpose.
The Color of Hope
When you enter one of the early rooms of Haaggkhen's Castle, you'll automatically get a message that reads, "The color of hope is not always the sign of goodness". This could just be mumbo-jumbo, but I don't have any idea what it means. I'm not sure what the "color of hope" even is, and colors do not seem to play much of a role in this game anyway.
Priests of Stonehenge
A painting in Haaggkhen's Castle mentions that when priests stand at the center of Stonehenge and chant a spell, something will happen. This definitely describes the scene depicted on the game's title screen and package art, so it might just be a story element. But it also sounds like a clue for something. Maybe this is the reason you have a Priest (or Priestess) for a character in your party - was he (or she) originally supposed to have more function? Could the "spell" spoken of here be related to the excised Coffin/Spell subquest? And what counts as "Stonehenge" in this game? Maybe those mysterious stars on the ground in the Earth, Fire, and Air Areas...
Peeling away the background layers with an emulator reveals a group of stars behind the menu at the bottom of the screen. If it has any purpose at all, it's unknown at this time.
Cameos & References
The music in the ANAK shrines sounds almost identical to the first part of 12 O'Clock by Vangelis:
ANAK Shrine MP3
YouTube Video of 12 O'Clock by Vangelis
Shade of Doom
Super Famicom Reference
The Shade of Doom enemy may have been based on the Henri Matisse art print, Icarus. The resemblance is amazingly uncanny, right down to the red dot located on the shadowy figure's chest in both cases.
The credits mention that this is the "SFX" version of Drakkhen. "SFX" was an early code name for the Super NES (Super Famicom). This is the only known reference to that code name in any North American game.
The final screen of the ending sequence promises, "COMING SOON!! DRAKKHEN II". Drakkhen would not actually get a sequel until 1994, in the form of Dragon View, which (unlike Drakkhen), was exclusive to the Super NES.
The look and movement of the enemies that fly out of the sky (or constellations at night) seems very, very much inspired by the bosses of Sega's classic shooter game, Space Harrier. Perhaps the 3D movement of Space Harrier is what inspired Drakkhen's overworld to begin with.
Switched at Birth?
This one is just coincidence, but thought I'd mention it anyway. The Dragon on the cover of the Amiga version of the game is strangely reminiscent of Jafar in the Disney movie, Aladdin, when he turns into a giant snake.
Miscellaneous Oddities & Weirdness
The lowest-level naked Drakkhen enemies have, what clearly looks to me, like junk showing. Even if that's not what it's supposed to be, it looks so much like it that I'm surprised Nintendo of America didn't make them change the sprites. Maybe because it's kind of hard to notice it when the character is actually moving around, but once you see it in a still screenshot, you can't unsee it.
There are also these devil/gargoyle-like enemies in the Water Area with a distinctly female figure and voice that seem rather naked by NOA's standards.
In the Earth area, there is a tavern west of Hordkhen's Castle that is not marked on the map. When you're on the road to this tavern, a wandering man will appear out of thin air to give you directions to it. He tells you that they have good drinks at the tavern and he's clearly acting drunk the whole time. When you reach the tavern, a scene is shown of several characters holding beer mugs in the air.
While it's not necessarily a big deal today, consider that alcoholic references were censored from games like Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy 6, and Earthbound. In most of these cases, the dialogue was altered to spefically refer to the drinks as "coffee", "tea", "soda", or "pop" (or variations of them). Drakkhen never actually calls the drinks, "beer", "alcohol", or anything similar, but the implication is quite clear and it wasn't explicitly changed to anything else.
West of the Glowing Road in the Earth Area is an isolated strip of road in the shape of a cross or possibly an Ankh. The center has several rocks and a gravestone that summons a Dog Head when bumped.
An old man appears near the cross to tell you a clue about the Glowing Road. Strangely, the cross itself serves no purpose of its own.
Haaggkhen's Castle Weirdness
Haaggkhen's Castle is the weirdest area in the Drakkhen game world. One of the rooms has two doors with the letters "Sn" over the left door, and "Sc" over the right door. It's unknown what the letters stand for, if anything. They seem to have no purpose, though this is one of the few times in the game where two doors on a northern wall lead to two completely different rooms.
The room just beyond the "Sn" door has a very bizarre yellow-and-green checkerboard pattern on the floor not seen anywhere else. It also contains a single bat enemy that continually respawns, and even weirder, your party's Hit Points drain constantly while you're in here.
Perhaps strangest of all are the kitchen rooms with the giant stoves. Two of them have a message that says something in the oven "remains unburned". A strange, indescribable enemy appears in the pot and makes a really unsettling sound (even for this game). It can be killed, but not very easily. Did the Drakkhens cook something alive and leave part of it in the cauldron? Rather morbid and gruesome, don't ya think?
Here's an oddity: An old man along a road in the Air Area tells you that a dying prisoner gave you the location of Princess Naakhtkha's castle.
Then he claims the prisoner died right afterwards.
The only event he could possibly be referring to is the prisoner you rescued from Prince Haaggkhen's Castle. However, as you can clearly see in these screenshots, he did not tell you where Naakhtkha's Castle is. He didn't know where it was and suggested asking her brother for its whereabouts.
The game also explicitly says the prisoner ran away after speaking with you, as opposed to dying. I get the feeling that this might be the result of something getting changed from the PC versions of Drakkhen. I believe there are versions of Drakkhen in which you do not have an in-game map, and you had to rely on clues and directions like these to find things. But since the SNES version has an in-game map, directions are rather pointless because you can just look at the map to see where your destinations are.
The real question is how would the old man know what transpired anyway? It's not as though he was in the room with you.
Speaking of dialogue inconsistencies, the game often gets the Drakkhen's names confused. One such example occurs when you try to cross the glowing road in the middle of the Earth Area. A Dragon God will appear and tell you that Hordkhen's Castle was "left a pile of rubble", yet as you should know, Hordkhen's Castle is standing, untouched and undamaged, as it's one of the castles you must enter and explore to advance in the game. This is probably just a mistake and the text was supposed to say "Hordkha's Castle", not "Hordkhen's Castle", as Princess Hordkha's Castle really is destroyed.
At one point, the game also seems to get Princess Hordkha and Naakhtkha completely mixed up. A resident of one of the Air Area houses tells you that Princess Naakhtkha is held by the fire troops, the same ones who razed her castle. But it's actually Princess Hordkha who is being held prisoner by the fire troops and whose castle was razed. (This is what happens when all the characters in a game have similar-sounding names.)
The priests of the ANAK shrines appear human in the pictures, but their dialogue sometimes seems to imply that they are actually Drakkhen. One is named Arreckhen, and usually only the Drakkhens have names that end in "-khen".
It's hard to say just how accurately the pictures represent what's meant to be going on, anyway. For example, when you visit Naakhtkhen's Castle, the character that speaks to you at the door is Prince Naakhtkhen, who is later shown in no uncertain terms to be a Drakkhen, yet at this point the game reuses the same "elf" picture from the houses in the Earth Area.
Another thing that's weird about the ANAK priest is his line, "Those laid beyond death's door will live again thanks to the jade". Jade is this game's form of currency, but it costs no money to revive a dead character at an ANAK shrine. This may be indicative of a change between the SNES version of Drakkhen and other versions in which you'd have to pay to resurrect dead characters.
There's a unicorn in Haaggkha's Castle. It doesn't do anything, but is just another example of the game's random weirdness.
There's a very strange object in one of the rooms of Hazhulkha's Castle. As far as I know, this is the only place in the entire game where it appears, which is why it's so bizarre that it was partially hidden behind a pillar! If playing the game on an emulator, you can remove a background layer to see it, but would not be able to otherwise. It seems to have no purpose. My best guess is that it's an oven with a pot inside and some food spilled on top of it, although it looks different from the ovens in Haaggkhen's Castle.
The Infamous Dog Head
Most enemies in Drakkhen are random except the giant dog's head. The only way to get this big fellow to appear is by disturbing a tombstone. You can bump a tombstone (looks like a silver spoon sticking up out of a mound of dirt) by centering it on your screen and moving straight forward. Because of the way the dog head is summoned, it's easy to play through the entire game without ever once seeing it. It's also a relatively stong enemy, so don't fight it at very low levels or with poor equipment.
The "I Love You" Monster
In the eastern half of the Fire Area, one of the random monsters is perhaps the most bizarre in the entire game. (Yes, I classify this as being even weirder than the Shade of Doom, Dog Head, and Vector Swordsman.) It's a pink silhouette of the torso of a woman that makes really, really unsettling groaning sounds.
As it turns out, it's the infamous "I Love You" monster from the Amiga/PC versions, but for reasons unknown, its "I Love You" chanting was changed to moans for the SNES version, which manage to be even more disturbing.
Many of the traveling old men you'll meet around the overworld offer game hints or interesting Drakkhen Island history. But others...aren't really all that helpful.