Dragon Slayer (series)

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Dragon Slayer
Dragon Slayer logo.png
Genre(s) Role-playing
Action role-playing
Open world
Real-time strategy
Developer(s) Nihon Falcom
Hudson Soft (Faxanadu)
Publisher(s) Nihon Falcom
Square (MSX)
Hudson Soft (Famicom)
Nintendo (NES)
Sierra On-Line (MS-DOS)
Creator(s)Yoshio Kiya
Composer(s) Falcom Sound Team JDK
Yuzo Koshiro
Toshiya Takahashi
Mieko Ishikawa
Jun Chikuma
Platform(s) NEC PC-88, NEC PC-98, MSX, MSX2, FM-7, Sharp X1, Sharp X68000, Nintendo Entertainment System, TurboGrafx-16, MS-DOS, Super Cassette Vision, Game Boy, Mega Drive, Satellaview, PlayStation, Sega Saturn, Microsoft Windows, Dreamcast, Nokia N-Gage, Virtual Console
First release Dragon Slayer
Latest release Tokyo Xanadu
Spin-offs Xanadu series
The Legend of Heroes series

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 is an early action role-playing game, released in 1984 for the NEC PC-88 computer system and ported by Square for the MSX. [1] Designed by Yoshio Kiya, [2] the game gave rise to a series of sequels, most 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, [3] and as the progenitor of the action role-playing game genre. [4] [5]

Nihon Falcom Corporation is a Japanese video game company who primarily develop role-playing video games, most notably in the Ys and The Legend of Heroes series. The company was founded in 1981, making them one of the oldest role-playing game developers still in existence today. They are credited with pioneering the action role-playing game genre, the Japanese role-playing game industry, and the development of the personal computer software industry in Japan as a whole.

<i>Dragon Slayer</i> (video game) 1985 video game

Dragon Slayer is an action role-playing game, developed by Nihon Falcom and designed by Yoshio Kiya. It was originally released in 1984 for the PC-8801, PC-9801, Sharp X1 and FM-7, and became a major success in Japan. It was followed by an MSX port published by Square in 1985, a Super Cassette Vision by Epoch in 1986 and a Game Boy port by the same company in 1990 under the name Dragon Slayer I. A remake of Dragon Slayer was also included in the Falcom Classics collection for the Sega Saturn.

Action role-playing video games are a subgenre of role-playing video games. The games emphasize real-time combat where the player has direct control over the characters as opposed to turn or menu-based combat. These games often use action game combat systems similar to hack and slash or shooter games. Action role-playing games may also incorporate action-adventure games, which include a mission system and RPG mechanics, or massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs) with real-time combat systems.


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.

Action-adventure is a video game genre that combine core elements from both the action game and adventure game genres.

Metroidvania is a subgenre of action-adventure video games. The term is a portmanteau of the game series Metroid and Castlevania. Metroidvania games use game design and mechanics that are similar to games from these two series. Specifically, the term derives from the Castlevania title Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and many of the games in that franchise which come after it, which are generally considered to contain certain aspects of gameplay comparable to that of the Metroid series of games. As such, the term is used to invoke gameplay concepts and mechanics similar to that of these two series.

In video games, an open world is a virtual world in which the player can explore and approach objectives freely, as opposed to a world with more linear gameplay. While games have used open-world designs since the 1980s, the implementation in Grand Theft Auto III (2001) set a standard that has been used since.


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. [6]

A role-playing video game is a video game genre where the player controls the actions of a character immersed in some well-defined world. Many role-playing video games have origins in tabletop role-playing games and use much of the same terminology, settings and game mechanics. Other major similarities with pen-and-paper games include developed story-telling and narrative elements, player character development, complexity, as well as replayability and immersion. The electronic medium removes the necessity for a gamemaster and increases combat resolution speed. RPGs have evolved from simple text-based console-window games into visually rich 3D experiences.

The action game is a video game genre that emphasizes physical challenges, including hand–eye coordination and reaction-time. The genre includes a large variety of sub-genres, such as fighting games, beat 'em ups, shooter games and platform games. Some multiplayer online battle arena and real-time strategy games are also considered action games.

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, [4] 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. [7] These games went on to influence later series such as The Legend of Zelda , [1] [4] Hydlide , and Falcom's own Ys . [1] 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. [6] 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. [3]

Hack and slash or hack and slay refers to a type of gameplay that emphasizes combat.

<i>The Legend of Zelda</i> video game series

The Legend of Zelda is a fantasy action-adventure video game franchise created by Japanese game designers Shigeru Miyamoto and Takashi Tezuka. It is primarily developed and published by Nintendo, although some portable installments and re-releases have been outsourced to Capcom, Vanpool, and Grezzo. The series' gameplay incorporates action-adventure and elements of action RPG games.

<i>Hydlide</i> 1986 video game

Hydlide is a 1984 open world action role-playing video game developed and published by T&E Soft. It was originally released for the NEC PC-6001 and PC-8801 computers in 1984, in Japan only; ports for the MSX, MSX2, FM-7 and NEC PC-9801 were released the following year. A Nintendo Famicom version was first released under the name Hydlide Special on March 18, 1986 in Japan; three years later, in June 1989, that version saw a North American release for the Nintendo Entertainment System by FCI, its title having been returned to simply Hydlide. The game sold 2 million copies in Japan, across all platforms.

The original Dragon Slayer , released for the PC-88 in 1984, [1] 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. [5] 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, [1] and introduced the use of item-based puzzles which later influenced The Legend of Zelda. [4] Dragon Slayer was a major success in Japan, where its overhead action-RPG formula was used in many later games. [8] The game's MSX port was also one of the first titles to be published by Square. [1]

Roguelike subgenre of role-playing video games

Roguelike is a subgenre of role-playing video game characterized by a dungeon crawl through procedurally generated levels, turn-based gameplay, tile-based graphics, and permanent death of the player character. Most roguelikes are based on a high fantasy narrative, reflecting their influence from tabletop role playing games such as Dungeons & Dragons.

Dungeon crawl video game genre

A dungeon crawl is a type of scenario in fantasy role-playing games in which heroes navigate a labyrinthine environment, battling various monsters, and looting any treasure they may find. Because of its simplicity, a dungeon crawl can be easier for a gamemaster to run than more complex adventures, and the "hack and slash" style of play is appreciated by players who focus on action and combat. The term can be used in a pejorative sense, since dungeon crawls often lack meaningful plot or logical consistency. The parody game Munchkin is about "the essence of the dungeon experience… Kill the monsters, steal the treasure, stab your buddy."


A mini-map or minimap is a miniature map that is often placed at a screen corner in video games to aid players in orienting themselves within the game world. They are often only a small portion of the screen and thus must be selective in what details they display. Elements usually included on Mini-maps vary by video game genre. However, commonly included features are the position of the player character, allied units or structures, enemies, objectives and surrounding terrain.

The sequel Dragon Slayer II: Xanadu , released in 1985, was a full-fledged action RPG with many character statistics and a large quest. [5] [9] Xanadu incorporated a side-scrolling view during exploration and an overhead view during battle, [8] 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, [5] 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, [5] [9] a heavier emphasis on puzzle-solving, [7] and individual experience for equipped items. [9] It is also considered a "proto-Metroidvania" game, [10] due to being an "RPG turned on its side" that allowed players to run, jump, collect, and explore. [11] The game gained immense popularity in Japan, setting records for PC game sales, selling more than 400,000 copies. [9] Xanadu Scenario II , released the following year, was also an early example of an expansion pack. [8] 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. [12]

Statistic (role-playing games) piece of data representing a particular aspect of a fictional character

A statistic in role-playing games is a piece of data that represents a particular aspect of a fictional character. That piece of data is usually a (unitless) integer or, in some cases, a set of dice.

Side-scrolling video game video game genre

A side-scrolling game, side-scroller or 2D is a video game in which the gameplay action is viewed from a side-view camera angle, and the onscreen characters can generally only move to the left or right. These games make use of scrolling computer display technology. The move from single-screen or flip-screen graphics to scrolling graphics, during the golden age of video arcade games and during third-generation consoles, would prove to be a pivotal leap in game design, comparable to the move to 3D graphics during the fifth generation. Although side-scrolling games have been supplanted by 3D games, they continue to be produced, particularly for handheld devices or for digital-only releases.

Player character fictional character in a role-playing or video game that can be played or controlled by a real-world person

A player character is a fictional character in a role-playing game or video game whose actions are directly controlled by a player of the game rather than the rules of the game. The characters that are not controlled by a player are called non-player characters (NPCs). The actions of non-player characters are typically handled by the game itself in video games, or according to rules followed by a gamemaster refereeing tabletop role-playing games. The player character functions as a fictional, alternate body for the player controlling the character.

According to creator Yoshio Kiya in 1987, when he developed Dragon Slayer, " Wizardry and Ultima were the only two kinds of RPGs," and so he "wanted to make something new" with Dragon Slayer which "was like a bridge" to the 'action RPG' genre and Xanadu took "those ideas to the next level," after which "more and more action RPGs were released" to the point that action RPGs became "one of the main genres of computer games." He also avoided random encounters, stating he "always thought there was something weird about randomized battles, fighting enemies you can’t see, whether you want to or not." [13]

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. [6] [14]

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. [14] The game also featured 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. [15] That same year also saw the release of Xanadu's spin-off Faxanadu , a side-scrolling platform-action RPG. [8] 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. [1] [16]

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. [17] 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, [18] or nearly US$4 million. [19]

List of games

The games in the series include:

Related Research Articles

Ys is a series of role-playing video games developed by Nihon Falcom. The first game in the series, Ys I: Ancient Ys Vanished, was released on the NEC PC-8801 in 1987. Ys games have also appeared on the Sharp X1, MSX2, FM-7, NEC PC-9801, Sharp X68000, Master System, Sega Genesis, Sega Saturn, Famicom, NES, Nintendo DS, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable, TurboGrafx-CD, Apple IIGS, mobile phones, Super NES, PlayStation Vita, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and Xbox One. As of 2017, the series had sold over 4.8 million copies worldwide.

An expansion pack, expansion set, supplement, or simply expansion is an addition to an existing role-playing game, tabletop game, video game or collectible card game. These add-ons usually add new game areas, weapons, objects, characters, or an extended storyline to an already-released game. While board game expansions are typically designed by the original creator, video game developers sometimes contract out development of the expansion pack to a third-party company, it may choose to develop the expansion itself, or it may do both. Board games and tabletop RPGs may have been marketing expansions since the 1970s, and video games have been releasing expansion packs since the 1980s, early examples being the Dragon Slayer games Xanadu Scenario II and Sorcerian. Other terms for the concept are module and, in certain games' marketing, adventure.

<i>Ys I: Ancient Ys Vanished</i> Action roie-playing video game produced by Nihon Falcom

Ys I: Ancient Ys Vanished is the first installment of Ys, an action role-playing video game series developed by Nihon Falcom in 1987. The name is commonly misspelled Y's due to an error on the packaging of an English-language release.

<i>Legacy of the Wizard</i> 1987 video game

Legacy of the Wizard, originally released in Japan as Dragon Slayer IV: Drasle Family is a fantasy-themed action role-playing platform game released for the MSX, MSX2 and Famicom in Japan and for the Nintendo Entertainment System in the United States. Legacy of the Wizard is an installment in Falcom's Dragon Slayer series, and one of only five Dragon Slayer games that were localized outside Japan. The game was an early example of an open-world, non-linear action RPG, combining action-RPG gameplay with what would later be called "Metroidvania"-style action-adventure elements.

Sorcerian is a series of action role-playing game developed by Nihon Falcom.

<i>Dragon Slayer: The Legend of Heroes</i> 1989 video game

Dragon Slayer: The Legend of Heroes is a role-playing game developed by the Nihon Falcom. It is the sixth game in the Dragon Slayer line of games, and the first in The Legend of Heroes series.

<i>Xanadu</i> (video game) 1985 video game

Xanadu, also known as Xanadu: Dragon Slayer II, is an action role-playing game developed by Nihon Falcom and released in 1985 for the PC-8801, X1, PC-8001, PC-9801, FM-7 and MSX computers. Enhanced remakes were later released for the Sega Saturn, PC-9801 and Windows platforms. It is the second in the Dragon Slayer series, preceded by Dragon Slayer and followed by Dragon Slayer Jr: Romancia, which, as most games in the Dragon Slayer series, have very little relation with each other.

<i>Romancia</i> video game

Romancia (ロマンシア), also known as Dragon Slayer Jr., is an action-adventure game developed by Nihon Falcom in 1986 for the PC-8801, PC-9801, MSX, and Sharp X1 computers. A later Famicom version was published by Tokyo Shoseki. An enhanced remake was released for Windows in 1999 by Unbalance. It is the third in the Dragon Slayer series, preceded by Xanadu and followed by Dragon Slayer IV. Romancia is a simpler and brightly colored game in comparison to the other Dragon Slayer titles, hence the name "Dragon Slayer Jr."

Eastern role-playing video games (RPGs) are RPGs developed in East Asia. Most Eastern RPGs are Japanese role-playing video games (JRPGs), developed in Japan. RPGs are also developed in South Korea and in China.


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