The Death Trap

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The Death Trap
The death trap scan.gif
Promotional Art for The Death Trap
Developer(s) Square
Publisher(s) Square
Designer(s) Hironobu Sakaguchi
Platform(s) NEC PC-8801, NEC PC-9801, Fujitsu FM-7
Genre(s) Interactive fiction
Visual novel
Adventure game
Mode(s) Single-player

The Death Trap(ザ・デストラップ) is a text adventure video game developed and published by Square for the NEC PC-8801, NEC PC-9801, and Fujitsu FM-7 in 1984. The game and its supporting computer platforms were only released in Japan.

Interactive fiction, often abbreviated IF, is software simulating environments in which players use text commands to control characters and influence the environment. Works in this form can be understood as literary narratives, either in the form of Interactive narratives or Interactive narrations. These works can also be understood as a form of video game, either in the form of an adventure game or role-playing game. In common usage, the term refers to text adventures, a type of adventure game where the entire interface can be "text-only", however, graphical text adventure games, where the text is accompanied by graphics still fall under the text adventure category if the main way to interact with the game is by typing text. Some users of the term distinguish between interactive fiction, known as "Puzzle-free", that focuses on narrative, and "text adventures" that focus on puzzles.

1984 saw many sequels and prequels and several new titles such as Tetris, Karate Champ, Boulder Dash, and 1942.

Japan Country in East Asia

Japan is an island country in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies off the eastern coast of the Asian continent and stretches from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and the Philippine Sea in the south.


The Death Trap is the first game developed by Square, created before they were even an independent company. At the time, Square was a software branch of Den-Yu-Sha, a Japanese power line manufacturing firm; it was not until 1986 that Square Co., Ltd. was independently established. Square followed up with a sequel to The Death Trap in 1985 called Will: The Death Trap II. Square's third and final text adventure game was called Alpha , released in 1986, and tells a science fiction story in the same style as The Death Trap. The company's next game, Suishō no Dragon , was an early point-and-click adventure game and their subsequent games were in a variety of other genres before settling on the role-playing video game with Final Fantasy . Project EGG, a licensed emulator for home computer games, included The Death Trap, Will, and Alpha together in its limited edition "Classic PC-Game Collection" on September 8, 2013, alongside Cruise Chaser Blassty and Genesis—other Square games released between 1984 and 1987. [1]

1986 has seen many sequels and prequels in video games and several new titles such as Metroid, Out Run and Bubble Bobble.

1985 saw many sequels and prequels in video games and several new titles such as Gradius, Super Mario Bros. and Duck Hunt.

Science fiction Genre of speculative fiction

Science fiction is a genre of speculative fiction that has been called the "literature of ideas". It typically deals with imaginative and futuristic concepts such as advanced science and technology, time travel, parallel universes, fictional worlds, space exploration, and extraterrestrial life. It often explores the potential consequences of scientific innovations.


The Death Trap is a text adventure game, which relies on simple command lines from the user's input to progress through the game. As opposed to most "text adventures", with only text as output, The Death Trap provides graphical feedback using still pictures.

The game's plot is set during the 1980s. In the game, the Cold War has become tense, and many countries have begun to prepare for a global-scale war, working on new weapons. One of such countries is the mysterious "B country" in Eastern Africa, which in an attempt to create biological weapons kidnaps the famous scientist Dr. Gitanes. An agent named Benson is sent to B country in order to rescue the doctor and avert the new threat to world peace.


The Death Trap was the first game developed by Square, a computer game software branch of Den-Yū-Sha Electric Company. Masashi Miyamoto, who founded Square in September 1983, believed that it would be more efficient to have graphic designers, programmers and writers work together on common projects. Upon Square's inception, Miyamoto initially hired as their first developers university students Hironobu Sakaguchi and Hiromichi Tanaka, and a few others. [2] They shortly began work on Square's first game, The Death Trap. Sakaguchi noted in 1985 that he had expected to only do clerical work, not develop video games. [3]

Hironobu Sakaguchi game designer

Hironobu Sakaguchi is a Japanese video game designer, director, producer, writer, and film director. He is best known as creator of the Final Fantasy series, which he conceived the original concept for the first title Final Fantasy and also directed several later entries in the franchise, and has had a long career in gaming with over 100 million units of video games sold worldwide. He left Square Enix and founded the studio Mistwalker in 2004.

Hiromichi Tanaka Japanese video game designer

Hiromichi Tanaka is a Japanese video game developer, game producer, game director and game designer. He was Senior Vice President of Software Development at Square Enix and the head of the company's Product Development Division-3. He is best known as the former lead developer of Final Fantasy XI, Square's first massively multiplayer online role playing game (MMORPG). He oversaw ongoing development of that title and Final Fantasy XIV until late 2010. He also worked in a prominent role for earlier single-player games including Secret of Mana, Seiken Densetsu 3, Xenogears, Threads of Fate, Chrono Cross, and the Nintendo DS version of Final Fantasy III..

Sakaguchi held the position of producer and scenario writer. Harunobu Kato and Tanaka served as programmers. Other scenario writers were 雪ノ浦美樹, 林明弘 and 鈴木尚志. The graphics team consisted of Hiromi Nakada, 雪ノ浦美樹, 今泉美保 and 斉藤智子. Lastly, 井出康代 held the position of data editing. [4]

The game was published in Japan for the NEC PC-8801 in October 1984. It was later released for the Fujitsu FM-7 in December 1984. [5]


The Death Trap received little attention at the time of release, though it was successful enough for Square to immediately go on to create a sequel: Will: The Death Trap II. Hironobu Sakaguchi, Hiromichi Tanaka, Harunobu Kato and Hiromi Nakada continued developing games for Square, while the rest of those credited left. [6] [7]


Will: The Death Trap II
Developer(s) Square
Publisher(s) Square
Designer(s) Hironobu Sakaguchi
Platform(s) NEC PC-8801, NEC PC-9801, Fujitsu FM-7, Sharp X1
Genre(s) Interactive fiction
Adventure game
Visual novel

Will: The Death Trap II(ウィル デス・トラップII) is a video game developed and published by Square for the NEC PC-8801, NEC PC-9801, Fujitsu FM-7, and Sharp X1 in 1985. The game and its supporting computer platforms were released exclusively in Japan. Will is the sequel to The Death Trap, and was Square's second release.

Much like its predecessor, Will is an interactive fiction game, which relies on simple command lines from the user's input to progress through the game. As opposed to the earlier "text adventures", with only text as output, Will provides graphical feedback by using pictures. Square recruited a postgraduate student from Keio University to program the bitmap graphics of Will. The game is considered one of the first animated computer games. [2] Will sold 100,000 copies in Japan, which, while less than its predecessor, was a major commercial success at the time of its release. [2]

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  1. "限定生産『CLASSIC PC-GAME COLLECTION -THE DEATH TRAP・WILL・ALPHA・BLASSTY・GENESIS-』好評販売中! / レトロゲーム総合配信サイト プロジェクトEGG" (Press release) (in Japanese). Project EGG. 2013-09-06. Retrieved 2016-02-01.
  2. 1 2 3 Fujii, Daiji (January 2006). "Entrepreneurial choices of strategic options in Japan's RPG development" (PDF). Faculty of Economics, Okayama University. Archived from the original (PDF) on September 30, 2007. Retrieved 2008-04-26. To solve this problem programmatically, the team employed a postgraduate student from Keio University—one of the best private universities, located in Tokyo and Yokohama—and Japan’s first animated PC game, Will, was released in 1985. One hundred thousand copies of Will were sold, which was a major commercial success at the time.
  3. "12 Developers, 20 Questions – 1985 Interview Special". BEEP!. October 1985. Retrieved 2015-01-19.
  4. Laver. "Oh!FM-7:スタッフリスト/ザ・デストラップ".
  5. Laver. "Oh!FM-7:アルファ(スクウェア)".
  6. Laver. "Oh!FM-7:スタッフリスト/ウィル".
  7. Laver. "Oh!FM-7:スタッフリスト/アルファ".