Sword Dancer is an Action RPG created in 1991 by Technical Group Laboratory (of Advanced Variable Geo fame) for the PC-98 computer. At first it seems to be another Top-Down View RPG similar to early Dragon Quest or Final Fantasy entries: Random Encounters, Level Up, Linear Stories...but there's an unique twist here: when a battle begins, the player is transported to a 2D battlefield reminiscent of a Fighting Game, complete with the characters and enemies having their own moves (although somewhat limited). The first game also offered the option to change characters in a vein similar to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Nintendo Entertainment System videogame.
The story of the first game takes place in the land of Suzaku, where a guardian known as the White Dragon has been protecting this land for centuries, and the Dragon Sorceress is charged with the job of controlling the White Dragon. To protect the Dragon Sorceress, mystical warriors called Sword Dancers are chosen. Our story starts with Setsuna, the actual Dragon Sorceress, being kidnapped by evil monsters who want to use the power of the White Dragon for its own hideous purposes. Hien, her Sword Dancer and childhood friend, tries to stop them but the monster escapes anyway, so Hien must embark on a quest to save Setsuna and defeat the evil that want the power of the dragon. On his quest, he will meet other Sword Dancers on the way who will join his party. Will Hien and his friends find Setsuna before it's too late?
The game also spawned a sequel and a Fighting Game spinoff with an update, all of them being exclusive for the PC-98:
- Sword Dancer Zoukango (Extra Edition): A simple Fighting Game featuring all four playable characters and additional enemies and bosses of the first game. It contains an original "Story Mode" (named "Monster Attack"), and some extra content, such as a Tournament Mode. An update for this game was released for the latter PC-9821 model, titled Sword Dancer Zoukango '93. Which added more extras (even a Party Game-like variation of the Tournament Mode!) and a Sound Test for this game and a previous game by the same team, Edge (1993 Video Game).
- Sword Dancer: Kyoujin no Megami: the sequel of the first game, released in 1994.
Unlike most of the games TGL developed and/or published, this game and its spinoffs aren't H-Games.
The Sword Dancer series provides examples of:
- Absurdly Low Level Cap: The maximum level cap in this game is 21, so the only way for most of the characters to get white life bars is to use an item (and only for a single battle).
- Ascended Extra: In Sword Dancer Extra Edition and its update, Setsuna goes to Damsel in Distress to Player Character Action Heroine, you can even play as a NPC girl (only seen on the first town of the first game) and the Female Shopkeeper!
- Bag of Sharing: Your inventory is shared regardless of how many characters are on your party, and you can't have more than sixteen items, including duplicates.
- Childhood Friends: Hien and Setsuna.
- Damsel in Distress: Setsuna.
- Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: When you die, you will return to the start of the room you were (with a life penalty). Justified because the platform segments on certain dungeons are Nintendo Hard.
- Defeat Means Friendship: Agadil joins your party after defeating her, hoping to remember who she is.
- Escape Rope: The Ring of Wings, it will teleport you to the nearest Save Point.
- Fighting Game: There are additional game modes like this where you can fight the other player characters with a second player, or all the enemies and bosses in the game, the latter variation is called "Monster Attack" mode.
- Good Old Fisticuffs: Tetta, Hien's mentor (and former Sword Dancer), he prefers to use his fists as weapons.
- Multiple Life Bars: Your character (and enemies) can have multiple colored life bars: the first being the classical Yellow seen in Fighting Games and Beat'em ups, then Blue, Green, and finally White. There are some items that double your health bar for a single battle. And the Final Boss, like Sephiroth on Kingdom Hearts, does have more life that can be displayed.
- 1-Up: Later on your quest you have to gather the materials to create an Elixir (and you can buy them later on all of the item shops), which works like this: when you lose all of your Health in battle, it will fill all of your Life Meter. However, it doesn't work on platforming sections.
- Party in My Pocket: Only your character designed in your menu as a Leader can be seen fighting your battles, and if that character dies, it's Game Over.
- Power-Up: You can find some rare items that can double your power, your health, and your damage, but only for one battle.
- Retired Badass: Tetta was a former Sword Dancer who is now The Mentor of Hien, but when Setsuna is kidnapped he goes with his Apprentice to save her without a second thought.
- Save Point: You can save in a "Traveler's Inn", or you can save by finding a magician at some points inside certain dungeons. You can shop for some items, pay for a full healing service, or save your game with no cost.
- Spell My Name with an "S": Giselle, in the Fighting Game Spinoff, her name is romanized as Zizel.
- Throwing Your Sword Always Works: Hien can throw his katana like a Shuriken...and he can use it multiple times despite the sword disappearing after damaging the enemy.
- Trial-and-Error Gameplay: Some dungeons have difficult platforming sections to navigate, and most of them are filled with Bottomless Pits. Thankfully, Death Is a Slap on the Wrist here.