Dragon Quest may be the first Japanese Role Playing Game using mechanics still used today, but it’s certainly not the first role playing game from the land of the rising sun. It was a trailblazer that inspired and led a charge by the Japanese but there were some interesting games before it.
THE DARK AGES
The period before the first Dragon Quest came out is commonly referred to as the Dark Ages of Japanese Role Playing Games. The titles that tried something new were clunky and difficult, at best, and unplayable and crazy at worst. Let’s not forget that in Japan, from the 1970s and early 1980s, it was populated by computers made in Japan. There were a few consoles, that is Pong consoles, manufactured by a wide range of companies, from Nintendo to Mitsubishi. However, experimentations like the first few proto-JRPGs were on computers and only some artifacts remain.
Among the first publishers to catch the role-playing game train in Japan was Koei. Better known for its strategy games and Dynasty Warriors franchise nowadays, the Japanese publisher played an active role in the creation and popularization of role playing game in its home country. Moreover, Koei was accounting for half of the JRPG releases by the end of 1983. Their first attempt was titled The Dragon & Princess. A text-based game released in December, 1982, it was later updated
to incorporate graphics. Players typed their command on the keyboard in order to progress. The ingredients of the RPG were there: a team, a dungeon, monsters and equipment management.
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