Leveling Down: The Story of Hentai RPGs

Chapter 3. The Golden Age Question. Where Did It All Start? Greatest Japanese RPGs.

The history of hentai RPGs is in many ways unlike the history of most other video game genres. It's definitely unlike its big brother, the non-hentai Japanese RPG, that moved from obscure geeky entertainment (to the Western audience) to mass production with flashy FMVs, and eventually to the current crisis and the hope that they bloody learn from Final Fantasy XII and get closer to the much more advanced West.

The first role-playing game with adult content was probably Dark Sider (1986), though Chaos Angels (1988) is often credited with providing a dungeon-crawling template that later inspired Elf. Beside generally being the most respectable developer of adult games, Elf deserves further recognition for their Dragon Knight series, part of which is the most famous hentai RPG ever, the magnificent Knights of Xentar. The first Dragon Knight (1989) was a sort of a parody on Dragon Quest, but with first-person dungeon-crawling gameplay and evil sexy enemies.

Hentai RPGs flourished about the same time as Japanese RPGs in general. That may come as a surprise to some of the younger and more casual RPG fans who thinks that the first great Japanese RPG was Final Fantasy VII. Actually, from my point of view, the golden age of Japanese RPG was not the 32-bit era with its pre-rendered backgrounds and FMVs, but early to mid-nineties - the RPG era ruled by Super Famicom (SNES) with Live a Live, Chrono Trigger, and the first Shin Megami Tensei, and PC Engine (TurboGrafx) CD, which truly revealed the cinematic nature and the dramatic potential of Japanese RPGs, with the colorful and humorous Tengai Makyō games, the unique Seiya Monogatari, the ultimate version of Emerald Dragon, and many others.

Anyway, this very same time was, unsurprisingly, also the highest point for hentai RPGs. But since consoles didn't allow hentai (teasing nudity in Cosmic Fantasy games notwithstanding), we'll have to turn to PC. More exactly, PC-98.

Continued: Chapter 4. PC-98: The Platform of Sex. The Soul Question. Why Rance Sucks.

Table of Contents: Leveling Down: The Story of Hentai RPGs