In 1984, the game ''Hydlide'' came out on a Japanese microcomputer. It ported to multiple other computer systems, and in 1989 was ported to the Famicom/Nintendo Entertainment System. It is this version that the vast majority of gamers know about.
A princess is attacked by the dragon Varalys, who breaks her into three fairies and scatters them through the land. One of her kingdom's bravest knights, Jim, sets out to retrieve the fairies and the crystals that will restore her to her original form and allow him to slay Varalys.
While the original microcomputer versions sold well, the Famicom version is notorious for being absolutely terrible. The graphics are messy and hard to interpret, the gameplay is a badly designed ripoff of ''Ys'', and it's nearly impossible to figure out what you're supposed to do.
The game received several sequels, one for the MSX, ''Super Hydlide'' for the Genesis, and ''Virtual Hydlide'' for the Sega Saturn, the latter being a remake of the original. None are known for their quality.
For clarity purposes, the original (or rather, the Famicom version) will be just called ''Hydlide'', the Genesis game ''Super'', and the Saturn game ''Virtual''.
This game contains examples of:
* BigBad: Varalys, the final boss of the original and ''Virtual''. He's reduced to TheDragon in ''Super''.
* DuelingGames: Believe it or not, the original came out a year before ''TheLegendOfZelda''. Both are top-down adventure games with a large amount of GuideDangIt, but the latter handily beat the former at every turn.
* GenreShift: ''Super'' takes a hard left turn into science fiction around the halfway point.
* GuideDangIt: There is absolutely ''no'' clue at any point what you're supposed to do.
* KnightInShiningArmor: Jim.
* MoneySpider: Averted in the worst way possible in ''Virtual'' - monsters give you NOTHING. Not even experience. Played straight in ''Super''.
* WizardNeedsFoodBadly: You must eat, and eat regularly, to survive in ''Super''.