Roleplaying games have been a staple of video gaming at large for decades, and one of the earliest great arcade successes in the genre celebrates its 40th anniversary this year – The Tower of Druaga. Developed and released by Namco in mid-1984, the game was the inaugural title in what would become the Babylonian Castle Saga series, which drew inspiration from such epic tales as The Tower of Babel and The Epic of Gilgamesh.

The player controls the hero Gilgamesh, or simply Gil, who must head into the massive, 60-story tower in order to rescue the lost maiden Ki from the demonic Druaga. Gil can use his sword and shield to defeat the monsters on each level of the tower; as he progresses upwards, the monsters become gradually more powerful. Each floor has a randomly placed key which is required for the player to open the randomly placed door in order to advance to the next level, and this door must be opened within the time limit for the level. Before taking on Druaga, Gil is tasked by the goddess Ishtar (who wants to help but is unable to directly intervene) to retrieve the Blue Crystal Rod, the necessary item required to defeat the demon.

The game ran on Namco’s hardware for Pac-Man while using a video display system previously used from Mappy; The Tower of Druaga was popular enough to receive a variety of home ports, such as to the Famicom, PC Engine and MSX systems.

The Tower of Druaga has been cited as an inspiration for many role-playing and action-RPG titles that came after it, such as the Ys and Legend of Zelda series, among others. The Babylonian Castle Saga of games at large has since gone on to include four direct sequels as well as a handful of spinoffs, and has also encompassed other media such as an anime series.