Karuizawa Yūkai Annai
Image: MobyGames

Yuji Horii is most famous for creating the massively popular Dragon Quest series of JRPGs, which – as of March 2022 – has sold more than 85 million copies worldwide.

However, those of you who know your history will be aware that Horii's achievements in video games don't begin and end with Dragon Quest; he was involved with the seminal SNES title Chrono Trigger in 1995, and, much earlier than that, was responsible for the home computer adventure The Portopia Serial Murder Case, which has been cited as a key inspiration by the likes of Hideo Kojima and Eiji Aonuma.

Immediately after The Portopia Serial Murder Case – which Square Enix unsuccessfully tried to update recently with an AI-powered tech demo – Horii would branch into the genre of erotic (or "erogē" as it's known in Japan) gaming with Karuizawa Yūkai Annai ("The Karuizawa Abduction Note"), released by Enix in 1985 on the PC-8801 home computer.

In the game, players are tasked with liberating a nubile young lady who has been kidnapped. While Karuizawa Yūkai Annai is historically notable for including an RPG-like battle system and map – both of which were replicated for Dragon Quest, which would be released on the NES the following year – the game also showcases a fair amount of titillation, as well as sex scenes.

Horii's interest in the erogē genre didn't end there, either. He collaborated with manga artist Hikaru Sekino on 1985's Tokyo Nampa Street, another Enix-published home computer title. In case you weren't aware, "nampa" (軟派) is a Japanese term for a man who attempts to seduce women in public places.

The ultimate aim of the game is to get your chosen date into a hotel room for some (ahem) hanky-panky via a series of conversations, making this one of the origin points of the dating simulator genre, which continues to be incredibly popular with both sexes right up to the present day.

In Tokyo Nampa Street, however, the sex scenes (including the option for the player to force themselves on women, which leads to their arrest) and inclusion of transexual dates (which trigger a 'game over') set it apart from the somewhat less extreme examples of the genre that would arrive later on.

Karuizawa Yūkai Annai and Tokyo Nampa Street were in development at around the same time, and Horii is credited with “Cooperation for Development” on the latter title. Tokyo Nampa Street would earn Hikaru Sekino an "Excellent Program Award" in Enix’s 3rd Game Hobby Program Contest.

The topic of erogē gaming is rarely tackled in the West, so if you'd like to know more, you might be interested to hear that we'll be publishing an in-depth history on the subject by The Japanese Game Preservation Society. Keep your eyes on the site; it should go live in the next week or so.