The Last Story has been dominating my Wii with RPG goodness ever since it arrived yesterday. But in ’89, a number of RPGs also made their way to the NES that were fairly sophisticated for their time.
One of these was Dungeon Magic by Natsume and published by Taito. Before the term JRPG became as popular a label as it is now, Dungeon Magic could have been mistaken as a title designed in the West due to its surface elements such as the graphics style and overall feel.
Unlike one of my favorites, Sega’s Phantasy Star, which did the whole first-person view only for its dungeons, Dungeon Magic saw its entire world that way though you had to sacrifice some acreage thanks to its GUI. In a way, it shared some things in common with the interface from Interplay’s The Bard’s Tale with its always-on party roster.
It also brought in a fairly deep magic system in which you could combine different disciplines together to create your spells. The onscreen GUI, as chunky as it was, displayed plenty of info at a glance. Combat was also in real-time: parrying required your to actively turn away from a monster to deflect their attack before turning back to try for another hit.
The ad did its best to stir the spirit of adventure within everyone that saw it. A stained, battered table with a snake crawling by bottles of what might have been alchemical mysteries. A lone sword lying within reach, beckoning you to take it up and save the world from evil. And it also had screenshots!