Sunday, 27 December 2015

Retro Japan Computer Special - Sharp X-1 (Aka. X1) + Games

The X1 was a surprise product released in 1982 which split from the usual Sharp MZ series of computers released by the computer division. It came from Sharp's TV division with several TV integration features and a modern, stylish design that was available in a range of colours. It was especially endeared by shoot'em up fans.

Like most other computers it did not have a BASIC language built into it's ROM. You had to load it into the computer from tape. This did mean that when not using BASIC there was more RAM free to use for other things.

Although it was outsold by NEC's PC-8801 it was regarded as a better machine because when games were released for both computers the X-1 version was usually superior. Later models improved the screen resolution and colours. It also had some cool exclusive titles of it's own as well. It eventually gave way to the Sharps 16-bit X68000 computer.

 SPECIFICATION - Sharp X-1 (1982)

CPU: Z80A @ 4 Mhz
Memory: 6K ROM, 64K RAM, 48K VRAM
Screen Resolution Modes:
320 x 200, 640 x 200, 8 Colours
Sound: Programmable Sound Generator, 3 Channels

Here are thirty great games, in alphabetical order, that you can play on the Sharp X-1. If you wish to find out more details about these games I have provided the original Japanese kanji which you can copy and paste in any search engine to get even more results. You can also play these games on a PC using the X-1 emulator found here

American Truck (Telenet 1985)

Top down racer. In each stage you have to reach the finish line before you run out of petrol or time. Pick up petrol items whilst avoiding bombs and other vehicles whilst staying on the road.

Aoki Ookami to Shiroki Mejika (Koei 1986)

The first in a series of turn based strategy games set in the Yuan dynasty of China. The first Emporer of which was Genghis Khan. Similar in style to Koei's other strategy series Nobunaga's Ambition. The further three games in the series were released outside of Japan and used the Genghis Khan name in their titles.

Battle City (Dempa Shinbunsha 1985)

Destroy enemy tanks keeping them away from your base. You move onto the next level once twenty tanks have been destroyed. There are different obstacles to avoid or hide behind on each level and your tank can be powered up throughout the game.

Bokosuka Wars (ASCII Entertainment 1983)

You must march six hundred metres and defeat the king.  Not as easy as it sounds when you've got the kings enemy units barring your way. But you can use various ways to acquire units of your own . Make sure you have more soldiers that are more experienced than the enemies and attack at the right moment to ensure victory

Brain Breaker (Hiroshi Ishikawa, Enix? 1985)

A side view action adventure game where you must find clues and collect items to solve puzzles and help you progress further. You can find weapons to defeat the wild creatures of the land and communicate with the more friendly beings to gain help.

Carmine X1 (Micro Cabin 1986)
カーマイン X1

A first person cyberpunk adventure with some RPG gameplay thrown into the mix. The game had locations that were created with early 3D polygonal shaped graphics and some survival horror mechanics.  

Daiva Story 3: Trial of Nirvana (T&E 1987)

Much like the other Daiva Story active war simulation and strategy games. This third outing was released solely for the X1.

Dezeni World (Hudson Soft 1986)

The sequel to Dezeni Land which is also a tongue in cheek verb noun type in puzzle adventure game but this time with better graphics.

Door Door (Chunsoft, Enix Corporation 1984)

A platform game where the main character, Chun, must lead monsters into doors and then close the door behind them quickly before they can escape.  Each level is completed once all the monsters have been caught.

Euphory (System Sacom 1987)

A medieval action game with some RPG elements. A brother and or sister must visit their mum's homeland to find the rare medicine needed to cure her. The game can be played as brother, sister or both in two player mode. You can visit towns to buy weapons and equipment and other areas where you fight monsters to gain gold and healing items.

Front Line (Carry Lab. / Nidecom Soft 1983)

A vertical scrolling action game where you must make your way through various terrain such as deserts and jungle to reach and destroy an enemy fortress. You are armed with a machine gun and grenades to help you on your journey and defend yourself against the enemy infantry and tank forces that you will meet along the way. The game is for one or two players.

Gaia no Monshou (NCS 1987)

A turned-based strategy game where the player must engage in a war with the forces of the dark army. There are three modes of play, scenario mode, which is a quick play option, construction mode, where the player can use a set number of points to build an army and campaign mode which follows a story line and is more difficult as destroyed units do not return in this mode.

Gandhara: Buddha no Seisen (Enix 1987)
ガンダーラ 仏陀の聖戦

A simple action RPG based in based in Gandhara (the capital of the area known today as Pakistan / Afghanistan). You must find the holy ashes before the king of demons finds and destroys them. You must fight the king of demons minions for your sword and magic. You must also eat rations to stay alive. Your hero will grow stronger if you kill enough of the enemy to gain experience points and level up.

Hydlide 3: The Space Memories (T&E 1988)

The third in the series of early action RPG's that inspired Falcom's Ys series. This had better game play, better sound and slightly better graphics than previous outings. It introduced cut scenes and also an active attack instead of just bumping into enemies. You can also talk to NPC's in this version. The morality meter from the previous games returns and has an affect on boss battles.

Kagirinaki Tatakai (Hiroshi Ishikawa, Enix 1983)*

A vertical platform shooter with a destructible environment. Your hero has a laser and a limited supply of rockets and grenade. He also has a jet pack to navigate the caverns. The aim is to go as deep into the caverns as possible. Various enemies will attack your hero. The game has a horizontal wrap around so you can only leave the screen vertically.

King's Knight Special (Squaresoft 1987)

A fantasy themed top down shooter with four characters who each have different abilities and must defeat a dragon and save the princess. The first four stages involve the characters collecting items to power up. The fifth stage, which can only be accessed if all the characters remain alive, is where they storm the castle, defeat the dragon and rescue the princess.

Laptick (dB Soft 1985)

An action puzzle game with 100 stages. You must step on all the question marks in each stage whilst avoiding the monsters to progress. Some flashing question marks give you bonus points, extra speed, higher jumping, an extra life or temporary invulnerability where you can kill the monsters.

Portopia Renzoku Satsujin Jiken (Enix 1983)

A first person murder mystery text adventure, and the first of the mysteries series by Yuji Horii, where the player is a private investigator who must solve the murder of a bank director. The player can input commands by selecting verbs from a list and find clues and items within the pictures displayed on screen to solve the case.

Reviver: The Real-Time Adventure (Arsys Software Inc 1987)

This fantasy adventure game has a real-time, persistent, open world that has it's own day and night cycle which affects the players ability to enter shops and find certain NPC's that are only available at specific times. It won the 1987 game of the year award from Japanese gaming magazine Oh! X.

Romancia: Dragon Slayer Jr. (Falcom 1986)

A medieval themed platform action game which is slightly different and simpler in style to the previous Dragon Slayer RPG games. You can buy weapons, items and magic and stay in inns to recover HP but there is no experience points system.

Star Cruiser (Arsys Software Inc 1988)

A 3D action game, from the same people that created Wibarm, with some RPG elements. Wandering around exploring, fighting aliens and robots, communicating with NPC and buying items from shops. Other parts of the game include exploring and fighting from within a space ship.

Super Laydock: Mission Striker (T&E 1987)

Shoot'em up after Laydock and before Laydock 2. For one of two players. If played by two people both ships can be attached together to form one larger ship. One player controls the movement whilst the other controls the weapons.

The Castle and Princess (Cherry Soft / ASCII 1985)

A platform puzzle game where the player must explore a castle, which has one hundred different rooms ,to find the princess. In each room there are enemies and obstacles to avoid and items such as keys, rings, bottles and gold bars to collect. Bottles give energy and different coloured keys open the corresponding doors.

Thunder Force (Tecnosoft 1984)

A free scrolling top down shooter where you must destroy enemies, weapons and bases of the enemy. The aim is to destroy all the shield bases then enter the main base and destroy it's central core. This was the first of Tecnosoft's best known series.

Tower of Druaga (Namco 1986)

A multi level maze game where you must rescue the princess from the demon Druaga. You use your sword and shield to attack and defend and must find the key to the next level of the tower. Other items can be collected by killing all the enemies on the level.

Toy Pop (Namco / Dempa Shinbunsha 1989)

A top down multi directional shooter where one or two players can explore each of forty four floors collecting gold hearts to open the exit to the next floor. Gift boxes containing weapons, bonus items, punch traps and time bombs can be found which can help or hinder you. Certain weapons are required to kill certain evil toys who are attacking you. If you get hit by an enemy once you are reduced to your underwear and if you are hit again you die. Replacement clothing can also be found.

Tritorn II: Road of Darkness (Sein Soft 1988)

Much like the first action RPG in the series with the addition of NPC's, currency and shops that sell weapons, armour and magic in friendly city areas. Experience points and money are given for killing creatures.

Valis The Phantasm Soldier (Telenet 1986)

A Side scrolling platformer where your heroine can attack enemies with her sword which can be upgraded to a ranged weapon by collecting power ups. She can also jump and collect items which will destroy all the enemies on screen or grant temporary invincibility. Each stage ends with a boss battle.

Volguard (DBsoft 1984)

A side scrolling shoot'em up where you must fight off waves of attacking planes and bomb military installations. Every time you fire your weapon it's power level is decreased until you shoot at a very slow rate of fire. Later in the level you are joined by two further ships and at this point you can join them together to become a high powered flying robot.

WiBArm (Arsys Software 1986)

Another side scrolling shooter where your flying robot can also transform into a space craft and a tank. Once your robot enters a building the play switches to a 3D third person perspective. Each level finishes with a boss battle. The game provides a fair amount of free exploration so if you cannot defeat a boss you can gain further power ups and level up your robot until victory is possible.

The next Retro Japan Computer Special will be all about the best selling Japanese computer in history, the NEC PC 9801 and its games.

Please don't forget to visit my other blog, My CAVE 33, which is having a Retro Japan Computer Special of its own this month, revisiting Japanese computer games and hardware advertising from the early eighties.


  1. Hello my friend, very good article, kudos for this! Sharp X1 is a very obscure system on the ocident, it is great to see someone writing about it in english. :)

    1. Thanks mate. When I was younger I didn't know anything about Japanese computers so I decided to do a bit of research. It's like discovering a whole new world of old computer games. If only I could speak Japanese :)

    2. Yeah, my problem exactly. Here in Brasil we"re huge fans of msx, but this is it. I have a lot of friends who haves X68000, but this is as odd as they can get. PC98, PC88, X1, nobody knows it well. I'm learning about them using emulation, and I'm having tons of fun. :)