The rise of the RPG in Japan can’t have been a pleasant thing for arcade game designers to see. In the West, making arcade games that fit with the tastes of home console players is easy, because driving and shooting are always popular. But RPGs are everything that arcade games aren’t – long, dialogue-heavy, and prone to relying on character skill rather than player skill as a means of determining progress.
Of course, arcade game designers did try to work RPG elements into their games, and Cadash is one of the results of that drive. It adopts the platform-RPG action of Zelda II and Wonder Boy In Monster World, meaning that you’ll gain experience and weapon upgrades over time, rest at inns for health boosts and chat to locals for hints. However, combat takes place in real time so your skill is still the key determining factor in your success against enemies like Black Pudding, the boss in this screenshot.
That sense of progression is why I like Cadash. It might have been forgotten by much of the gaming public, despite its presence on certain Taito compilations, but I’ve always been fascinated by arcade games which offer a sense of progression beyond the usual quick thrills. While I can’t carry around my Cadash progress like the custom Initial D cars or extra Ghost Squad guns held on memory cards in my wallet, I do like settling down for a session of hacking through baddies knowing that my character will have developed by the end.