Enix, which joined with Square to form Square Enix in 2003, is beloved in Japan for its Dragon Quest games. Children and adults alike adore DQ. Enix's earliest games, however, are anything but wholesome.
In 1982, Enix held a game programming contest and entered the game publishing business. One of the winners was Yuji Horii, who would go on to create Dragon Quest, and change the company forever. But, before that, Enix was just another computer game maker, churning out puzzle games, action games, and yes, adult games.
Enix's adult games might be considered unsavory as they either feature misogynism or underage characters — or both. It's worth noting that these adult games were developed externally as Enix was not yet a full-fledged game maker and that these types of games were popular at the time. Other game companies, such as Koei of Dynasty Warriors fame, also dabbled in adult titles.
In early 1983, Enix released Mari-chan's Close Call. Designed by the manga artist now known as Doronpa, the game was a winning entry in the game programming contest Enix held the previous year and was awarded the prize for excellence.
She takes off an article of clothing after each stage, but if players fail, she dies.
In the game, the goal is to keep Mari-chan, née Mariko Hashimoto alive, as she's attacked by thugs with knives, hooked up to a car battery or left near a bomb. She takes off an article of clothing after each stage, but if players fail, she dies. Doronpa would go on to create more adult games for Enix, such as Girl's Dormitory Panic and El Dorado Romance.
Other adult Enix titles include Lolita Syndrome, which was created by illustrator Katsumi Mochitsuki and also a winner in Enix's game programming contest. The game featured Mochitsuki's late 70s style illustrations of big-head little girls that were in danger of things like buzz saws and daggers — not to mention strip versions of paper-rock-scissors.
Almost three years after Enix released Lolita Syndrome, it released Dragon Quest, winning over young and old alike. During the 1980s and 1990s, many Japanese children learn the DQ March in piano lessons, and each new entry in the series is still a national event of sorts — this as Tokyo Metropolitan Government cracks down on imagery that populates Enix's early titles. Square Enix seems to be mining Enix's ero past of late as evident by a recent promotion for Fantasy Earth: Zero and the big brother fan service in The 3rd Birthday. Everyone's got start somewhere, and this is where Enix started, with big-headed children and buzz-saws.