If you’re looking for a weird, obscure fantasy action game to play you could do a lot worse than Taito‘s 1990 arcade game Cadash, which mixes platform gaming with RPG-style elements in a way that is rarely seen in this kind of coin-operated title.
Set in the kingdom of Deerzar, this is basically a side-scrolling hack and slash ’em up in which you can choose to play as either a fighter, a priestess, a mage, or a ninja to embark on a quest to rescue a princess from the evil monster, Baarogue (aka Balrog). Each character has their own style of combat and abilities. The fighter uses armour and a sword but cannot use magic; the priestess uses a chain whip and has increased endurance; the ninja uses throwing stars and is fast and agile, and the mage uses strong attack magic but has weak physical strength.
Cadash can be played by one player, or two players can play simultaneously, and the basic aim is to fight your way through five different stages, collecting money from defeated enemies, beating bosses, and trying to make your way to the next village so you can spend that hard-earned cash on increased health and useful new items. In tool shops, and in some hidden places, the player can buy medicinal herbs that give a health boost when necessary, antidotes that cure poison, and hourglasses that extend the game time. In weapon shops the various characters can purchase weapons and armour that extend their offensive and defensive capabilities. There are also inns where you can rest to recover lost HP (for a price).
The game does have a few surprises, and the badly-translated story and dialogue also add some entertainment value. Gameplay-wise, Cadash is tough but not unfair, and controlling the four combatants is somewhat pleasing. It’s possible to change spells with the mage by holding down the fire button. The second button acts as jump.
Cadash was converted to the PC Engine/TurboGrafx-16 and the Megadrive/Genesis. In the Megadrive version there are only two playable characters available (the fighter and the mage), but in the PC Engine version all four are playable.
More: Cadash on Wikipedia
More: Cadash on arcade-history.com