Dragon Slayer (ドラゴンスレイヤー Doragon Sureiyā ) is a series of video games developed and published by Nihon Falcom. The first Dragon Slayer title was an early action role-playing game, released in 1984 for the NEC PC-88 computer system and ported by Square for the MSX. Designed by Yoshio Kiya, the game gave rise to a series of sequels, nearly all of them created by Falcom, with the exception of Faxanadu by Hudson Soft. The Dragon Slayer series was historically significant, both as a founder of the Japanese role-playing game industry, and as the progenitor of the action role-playing game genre.
The series encompasses several different genres, which include action role-playing, action-adventure, platform-adventure, open world, turn-based role-playing, and real-time strategy. Many of the early titles in this series were PC games released for the PC-88, PC-98, MSX, MSX2, and other early Japanese PC platforms, while some were later ported to video game consoles. The series also features video game music soundtracks composed by chiptune musician Yuzo Koshiro and the Falcom Sound Team JDK.
Although commonly referred to as a series, the Dragon Slayer name is used to designate the body of work from producer Yoshio Kiya. There is no continuity in plot or even genre, but most of the games use role-playing game (RPG) elements and experiment with real-time action gameplay.
Dragon Slayer and Xanadu (1984–1985)
The original Dragon Slayer and its sequel Dragon Slayer II: Xanadu are credited for being the progenitors of the action RPG genre, abandoning the command-oriented turn-based battles of previous RPGs in favour of real-time hack and slash combat that requires direct input from the player, alongside puzzle-solving elements. These games went on to influence later series such as The Legend of Zelda, Hydlide, and Falcom's own Ys. The way the Dragon Slayer series reworked the entire game system of each installment is also considered an influence on Square's Final Fantasy, which would do the same for each of its installments. According to GamesTM and John Szczepaniak (of Retro Gamer and The Escapist), Enix's Dragon Quest was also influenced by Dragon Slayer and in turn defined many other RPGs.
The original Dragon Slayer, released for the PC-88 in 1984, is considered to be the first action-RPG. In contrast to earlier turn-based roguelikes, Dragon Slayer was a dungeon crawl RPG that was entirely real-time with action-oriented combat. Dragon Slayer also featured an in-game map to help with the dungeon-crawling, required item management due to the inventory being limited to one item at a time, and introduced the use of item-based puzzles which later influenced The Legend of Zelda. Dragon Slayer was a major success in Japan, where its overhead action-RPG formula was used in many later games. The game's MSX port was also one of the first titles to be published by Square.
The sequel Dragon Slayer II: Xanadu, released in 1985, was a full-fledged action RPG with many character statistics and a large quest. Xanadu incorporated a side-scrolling view during exploration and an overhead view during battle, though some rooms were also explored using an overhead view. The game also allowed the player to visit towns, which have training facilities that can improve statistics, and shops that sell items, equipment that change the player character's visible appearance, and food that is consumed slowly over time and is essential for keeping the player character alive. It also introduced gameplay mechanics such as platform jumping, magic that can be used to attack enemies from a distance, an early Karma morality system where the character's Karma meter will rise if he commits sin which in turn affects the temple's reaction to him, a heavier emphasis on puzzle-solving, and individual experience for equipped items. It is also considered a "proto-Metroidvania" game, due to being an "RPG turned on its side" that allowed players to run, jump, collect, and explore. The game gained immense popularity in Japan, setting records for PC game sales, selling more than 400,000 copies. Xanadu Scenario II, released the following year, was also an early example of an expansion pack. The game was non-linear, allowing the eleven levels to be explored in any order. It was also composer Yuzo Koshiro's first video game music soundtrack.
Romancia to Sorcerian (1986–1987)
In 1986, Dragon Slayer Jr: Romancia simplified the RPG mechanics of Xanadu, such as removing the character customization and simplifying the numerical statistics into icons, and emphasized faster-paced platform action, with a strict 30-minute time limit. The action took place entirely in a side-scrolling view rather than switching to a separate overhead combat screen like its predecessor. These changes made Romancia more like a side-scrolling action-adventure game.
In 1987, Dragon Slayer IV: Drasle Family returned to the deeper action-RPG mechanics of Xanadu while maintaining the fully side-scrolling view of Romancia. The game also introduced an open world and nonlinear gameplay similar to "Metroidvania" platform-adventures, making Drasle Family an early example of a non-linear, open-world action RPG. That same year also saw the release of Xanadu's spin-off Faxanadu, a side-scrolling platform-action RPG. Later that year, the fifth entry Sorcerian was released. It was a party-based action RPG, with the player controlling a party of four characters at the same time in a side-scrolling view. The game also featured character creation, highly customizable characters, class-based puzzles, and a new scenario system, allowing players to choose which of 15 scenarios, or quests, to play through in the order of their choice. It was also an episodic video game, with expansion disks released soon after offering more scenarios.
Two of the games released for the Nintendo Famicom, Dragon Slayer IV: Drasle Family and the spin-off of Xanadu known as Faxanadu, were released on the Nintendo Entertainment System in North America. The former was renamed Legacy of the Wizard. The second of the three games released for the Nintendo Famicom, Romancia, has never been released in North America for any platform. An English fan translation of the Famicom version of Romancia was released on April 23, 2008, by DvD Translations. An English version of Sorcerian was released in North America for MS-DOS in 1990, published by Sierra On-Line.
Legend of Heroes to Legend of Xanadu (1989–1995)
An English version of the 1989 title Dragon Slayer: The Legend of Heroes was released for the TurboGrafx-CD in 1991, and is usually known as simply Dragon Slayer. Subsequent Legend of Heroes games dropped their association with the Dragon Slayer series. In contrast to the action-oriented gameplay of most other Dragon Slayer titles, the Legend of Heroes titles use turn-based combat, while the 1991 title Lord Monarch on the other hand was an early real-time strategy game. The final games released as part of the Dragon Slayer series were the action role-playing games The Legend of Xanadu in 1994 and The Legend of Xanadu II in 1995. NEC's television promotion for The Legend of Xanadu cost ¥300 million yen, or nearly US$4 million.
List of games
The games in the series include:
- 1.1 Dragon Slayer (1984)
- 1.2 Dragon Slayer Gaiden (1992)
- 2.1 Dragon Slayer II: Xanadu (1985)
- 3.1 Dragon Slayer Jr: Romancia (1986)
- 4.1 Dragon Slayer IV: Drasle Family (Legacy of the Wizard) (July 17, 1987)
- 5.1 Sorcerian (December 20, 1987)
- 6.1 Dragon Slayer: The Legend of Heroes (1989)
- 6.2 Dragon Slayer: The Legend of Heroes II (1992)
- 7.1 Lord Monarch (1991)
- 7.3 Lord Monarch Online (1991)
- 7.3 Advanced Lord Monarch (1991)
- 7.4 Monarch Monarch (1994)
- 8.1 The Legend of Xanadu (1994)
- 8.2 The Legend of Xanadu II (1995)
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 Kurt Kalata. Dragon Slayer. Hardcore Gaming 101. Retrieved on 2011-03-02.
- ↑ John Szczepaniak. Retro Japanese Computers: Gaming's Final Frontier Retro Japanese Computers. Hardcore Gaming 101. Retrieved on 2011-03-29. Reprinted from Retro Gamer, 2009
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 Szczepaniak, John (July 7, 2011). "Falcom: Legacy of Ys". GamesTM (111): 152–159 . http://imageshack.us/f/32/yshistory02.jpg/. Retrieved 2011-09-07. (cf. Szczepaniak, John (July 8, 2011). History of Ys interviews. Hardcore Gaming 101. Retrieved on September 6, 2011.)
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Kamada Shigeaki, レトロゲーム配信サイトと配信タイトルのピックアップ紹介記事「懐かし (Retro) (Translation), 4Gamer.net
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 Falcom Classics. GameSetWatch (July 12, 2006). Retrieved on 2011-03-18.
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 6.2 John Harris (July 2, 2009). Game Design Essentials: 20 RPGs – Dragon Slayer. Gamasutra. Retrieved on 2011-03-02.
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 Hack and Slash: What Makes a Good Action RPG?. 1UP.com (May 18, 2010). Retrieved on 2011-03-02.
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 Kalata, Kurt. Xanadu. Hardcore Gaming 101. Retrieved on 2011-09-07.
- ↑ 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 Xanadu Next home page. Retrieved on 2008-09-08. (Translation)
- ↑ Jeremy Parish. Metroidvania. GameSpite.net. Retrieved on 2011-03-25.
- ↑ Jeremy Parish (August 18, 2009). 8-Bit Cafe: The Shadow Complex Origin Story. 1UP.com. Retrieved on 2011-03-25.
- ↑ Kevin Gifford (June 3, 2010). Xanadu Scenario II. MagWeasel.com. Retrieved on 2011-03-25.
- ↑ 13.0 13.1 Kurt Kalata, Romancia, Hardcore Gaming 101
- ↑ Harris, John (September 26, 2007). Game Design Essentials: 20 Open World Games – Dragon Slayer. Gamasutra. Retrieved on 2008-07-25.
- ↑ Sorcerian (PC), GameCola.net, October 30, 2010
- ↑ Kalata, Kurt. Vantage Master. Hardcore Gaming 101. Retrieved on September 6, 2011.
- ↑ Other Titles. Nihon Falcom. Retrieved on April 23, 2012.
- ↑ Currency Conversion. XE.com. Retrieved on April 23, 2012.
- 'Dragon Slayer series at MobyGames
- Hardcore Gaming 101: Dragon Slayer
- Dragon Slayer series
- NES Romancia Translation