The Death Trap

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The Death Trap
Cover box 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
Release date(s)
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.

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]

Gameplay[edit]

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.

Development[edit]

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 university students Hironobu Sakaguchi, Hiromichi Tanaka and three others as part-time workers.[2] They shortly began work on The Death Trap. Sakaguchi noted in 1985 that he had expected to do clerical work, not develop video games.[3]

Sakaguchi and Tanaka were friends at their university, often playing the Apple II game Wizardry, and computer games designed by Nasir Gebelli (of whom which would work for Square later on). Sakaguchi had developed an interest in game development based on American games for the Apple II, and created games with similar aspects.[2] They shortly began work on The Death Trap. He held the position of producer and scenario writer. Harunobu Kato held the position of programmer, which was shared with Tanaka. 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]

Reception[edit]

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[edit]

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
Release date(s)
Genre(s) Interactive fiction
Adventure game
Visual novel
Mode(s) Single-player

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.[8] Will sold 100,000 copies in Japan, which, while less than its predecessor, was a major commercial success at the time of its release.[8]

Alpha[edit]

Alpha
Developer(s) Square
Publisher(s) Square
Writer(s) Hiromichi Tanaka
Composer(s) Nobuo Uematsu
Platform(s) NEC PC-8801, NEC PC-9801, Fujitsu FM-7, Sharp X1
Release date(s)
  • JP July 8, 1986
Genre(s) Interactive fiction
Adventure game
Visual novel
Mode(s) Single-player

Alpha (アルファ?) is a graphical text adventure eroge[2] game developed and published by Square, released for theNEC PC-8801, NEC PC-9801, Fujitsu FM-7, and Sharp X1 systems in 1986. Like its predecessors, Alpha uses a text parser to interpret the player's instructions and displays the results on screen.

Alpha is set in the future after the Earth's natural resources have been completely drained. Humanity is forced to embark on a centuries-long trip to the titular planet on the space ship Daedalus.[9] Because technology for suspended animation does not exist, only the distant descendants of the original passengers and crew are alive by the time the game takes place. The main character, Chris, begins the game with amnesia and a terrorist attack quickly draws her into a revolution which aims to overthrow the dictatorial Daedalus computer system.[9] As Chris interacts with the revolutionary group, she uncovers the true nature of Alpha, the Daedalus, and herself.[10]

Alpha is one of Nobuo Uematsu's earliest video game soundtracks. A promotional soundtrack was released on flexi disc on August 7, 1986. It contains the tracks "Prologue ~Theme from Alpha~" and "CHRIS".[11] The game was praised at its release for its animation quality and the rich facial expressions of its characters.[9] A prison sequence that is repeated multiple times throughout the game became notorious among fans for depicting Chris naked.[10]

References[edit]

  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. ^ a b c DeWoody, Lucas (August 12, 2005). "Love, War and Fantasy - The Life of Square". Kombo.com. Retrieved 2009-05-09. [dead link]
  3. ^ "12 Developers, 20 Questions – 1985 Interview Special". BEEP!. October 1985. Retrieved 2015-01-19. 
  4. ^ Oh!FM-7:スタッフリスト/ザ・デストラップ
  5. ^ Oh!FM-7:アルファ(スクウェア)
  6. ^ Oh!FM-7:スタッフリスト/ウィル
  7. ^ Oh!FM-7:スタッフリスト/アルファ
  8. ^ a b 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. 
  9. ^ a b c "ALPHA / レトロゲーム総合配信サイト、プロジェクトEGG" (in Japanese). Project EGG. 2013-12-24. Retrieved 2016-02-01. 
  10. ^ a b 山下章 (1987). チャレンジ!!パソコン AVG & RPG II (in Japanese) (1987年10月20日の改装小型版(オリジナルは1987年1月) ed.). 電波新聞社. pp. 73–82. 
  11. ^ Dave. "Alpha". Square Enix Music Online. Retrieved 2008-04-17. 

External links[edit]