In 1975, Japanese businessman Yasuhiro Fukushima founded a company called Eidansha Boshu Service Center. It published tabloid magazines that advertised real estate. However, after failing to establish its own chain of stores, Fukushima refashioned the company to focus on gaming software and renamed it Enix. This was in 1982. To find talent for his company, Fukushima created a competition called the “Enix Game Hobby Program Contest.” The contest, modeled after manga competitions, was advertised in computer and manga magazines and offered a prize of one million Yen to the winner. The top winner was an editor for the manga magazine Shonen Jump, Yuji Horii, whose tennis game Love Match Tennis became Enix’s first release.
During the development of another game called The Portopia Serial Murder Case, Horii and his colleague Koichi Nakamura came across a RPG called Wizardry at a Macworld Conference & Expo. Horii became a fan of the game. After finishing Portopia, he decided that he wanted to create a similar game to Wizardry, with the goal of bringing the Western RPG to Japan. A second major inspiration was another RPG called Ultima. While Horii and Nakamura enjoyed the dungeon crawling and statistical nature of RPGs, they realized most gamers would not. He wanted a game that didn’t require being a hardcore gamer; specifically, he wanted to a make a game that the player could play without knowledge of the Dungeons & Dragons tabletop RPG, which had been used for years in Japan as a template for homegrown games. He decided the NES was the ideal platform for the game, so that, unlike arcade games, players wouldn’t have to worry about spending money if they died. He simplified the mechanics so the game could be played with a simple NES controller, with a greater emphasis on storytelling and emotional involvement. Manga artist Akira Toriyama, famed for his series Dragon Ball, produced the game’s artwork and well-known television composer Koichi Sugiyama composed the music. The result was Dragon Quest, released in 1986.