Video Game of the Day is a daily show available on Amazon Alexa devices and here on this website. Each day, we briefly discuss the history of a single game, randomly chosen. If you would like to listen on your daily flash briefing, you can enable Video Game of the Day here: https://amzn.to/2CNx2NJ.
Hello and welcome! My name is Katosepe and I’ll be your host for today’s Video Game of the Day!
I started research for today’s episode intending to do the first game in the Legend of Heroes series which is most famous for the modern Trails of Cold Steel subseries. This turned out to be quite the rabbit hole though as The Legend of Heroes is itself, a spin-off series from an earlier series, most of which only ever released in Japan. It’s a confusing trail and one I hope to tackle over several episodes in the future but for today, let’s talk about the first game in the first series which influenced a surprising number of games. Today’s game is Dragon Slayer, developed by Nihon Falcom and released on the PC-8801 in 1984
Dragon Slayer’s developer, Nihon Falcom, had released numerous games by 1984, even though they had only been around for 3 years at that point. Japan was focused on home computers in the 80’s so the developer focused on releasing for the popular PC platforms in Japan at the time. After several action games, horror games, and even a Twilight Zone game, they needed a big hit. Something that would stick and cement them in the gaming industry.
Developer Yoshio Kiya had created a game in 1983 called Panorama Island which had an interesting concept. When walking around a world map, encounters would occur but instead of having them be turn-based, players could move the character through the encounter in real-time. Yoshio expanded on this concept with his next game, Dragon Slayer, to make the entire game around this real-time combat and puzzle solving. The result was a top-down action RPG where players play as a fantasy warrior who must crawl through a dungeon looking for treasure and defeating enemies.
Combat is done by walking into enemies which causes damage to both the enemy and the player. If the player is strong enough, they will defeat the enemy and continue moving through the dungeon. Throughout the dungeon are items to collect and some puzzles to solve. Dragon Slayer would gain popularity and is now considered one of the earliest action RPGs ever made. The series would inspire the gameplay from Nihon Falcom’s later Ys series, Hydlide, and even the Legend of Zelda.
While the Dragon Slayer series name hasn’t been attributed to a game in some time, the series did go on to create several subseries. The Legend of Heroes being the biggest today but also Sorcerian, Lord Monarch, and the Xanadu games, which includes Tokyo Xanadu, an obscure but modern game released in the west in 2017. There’s a lot more to talk about when it comes to Dragon Slayer but since it intersects so much with so many other games, we’ll leave that for another time.
Thank you so much for listening! It’s always fun to research Japanese-exclusive games because it often involves finding obscure fan sites, YouTube videos in other languages, and all sorts of bizarre sources of information. It’s always worth it to demystify the origins of some of these series that westerners may have played though. If you felt like you got something out of this episode, maybe consider leaving a review for me on Amazon and letting others know what you think. It helps bring people into the show and it lets me know what kind of games to focus on going forward. Thanks again and don’t forget to check back here tomorrow for another Video Game of the Day!
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