The Dragon & Princess

Released by Koei in 1982, The Dragon & Princess (ドラゴンアンドプリンセス) is the first known RPG developed in Japan. It tasks the player with finding a king's stolen treasure. It is a hybrid between the RPG, adventure and strategy genres, and laid the foundations for tactical RPGs.

Plot

The king's treasure has been stolen by bandits, and it is up to a band of heroes to recover it.

The plot revolves around rescuing a kidnapped princess from a Dragon, a plot element later used by the original Dragon Quest in 1986.

Gameplay

The player can name, but not customize, the party members. Outside of combat, the party moves between areas in the style of a text adventure. In combat, the party members and enemies take turns moving on a square grid.

The gameplay combines RPG elements with an adventure game style text-parser interface and Chess/Shogi/Go style tactical turn-based combat.

One of its most interesting features was its combat system: Following a random encounter, the game transitions from a text adventure interface to a separate battle screen, where a tactical turn-based combat system is used, a year before Ultima III: Exodus.

Legacy

In addition to being the first known Japanese computer RPG, this game can also be considered a precursor to the tactical RPG genre, followed by titles such as Koei's own Nobunaga's Ambition in 1983, ASCII's Bokosuka Wars and Origin's Ultima III in 1983, and Nintendo's popular Fire Emblem series from 1990 onwards.

The game's designer, Koei founder Kou Shibusawa, remarked in a later interview that he did not consider early efforts such as this to be "authentic" fantasy RPG's. Nevertheless, this early hybrid approach to RPG design paved the way for the emergence of new RPG sub-genres in Japan: the action RPG (with the Dragon Slayer series) and the tactical RPG (with the games mentioned above).

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