|The Dragon and Princess|
Doragon & Purinsesu
|Platform of origin||PC-8801|
|Year of inception||December 1982|
Commonly considered the first Japanese-made game with role-playing elements, Dragon and Princess was published in December 1982 for the PC-8801 and one year later for FM-7, but was never translated or published in other regions. It involves a quest of a party of adventurers which is requested by the king to exterminate bandits and eventually rescue the princess from the clutches of a dragon. Gameplay-wise, the game is for the most part closer to the adventure format than to true role-playing. Much of the game consists of text and plays like interactive fiction, with text-based commands and movement through maze-like environments achieved by typing letters corresponding to the four directions (N, S, W and E). The RPG element is manifested in tactical top-down battles, during which the player navigates characters in a turn-based fashion. It is possible to take cover and protect weaker allies. Dead characters cannot be resurrected afterwards.
Gameplay[edit | edit source]
The player has control over a party of five characters, although their stats are fixed, and all one gets to customize are their names. The two main stats appear to be Power (Pw) and Spellcasting (Sp) - at least Sp is not speed, cause the turn order is always fixed. However, there is no command to actually cast a spell during combat, so the weaker characters are at a severe disadvantage.
Other than most of its immediate successors, The Dragon and Princess actually spells out the keyboard shortcuts at the beginning, which are similar Ultima. During the test play run, (S)earch, (G)et or (R)ead never brought any results, and the only human beings encountered were the king and princess in the starting castle.
The party is sent out by the king to kill bandits and bring back the treasure they stole, plain and simple. The eponymous dragon might factor in after the required amount of gold is delivered, but so far there's been no sight of him.
The main adventuring mode is entirely text-based and works like any other text adventure: (L)ook gives a brief description of the surroundings, while the numeric keys are used to move to each of the four cardinal directions. All text is in katakana, which due to its simple layout was basically the standard computer font, until higher resolutions became the norm and allowed for proper kanji and hiragana display. The party might be randomly attacked by some animals, bandits or monsters, upon which the game creates an overhead tactical view.
The tactical options are severely limited and the game suffers from the Final Fantasy I syndrome, with characters and enemies alike fumbling most of their attacks, drawing out even the most small-scale battles. The fact that these mode exists in the first place is interesting, though: Japanese sources date the game's release at late 1982, which means it was published before Ultima adopted the tactical party combat in Exodus.