Deadly Towers, an early game for the NES, was developed by Lenar and published by Brøderbund Software. It was released in Japan in 1986 and in North America in September 1987. The game was initially a best-seller when it was first released in North America, due to being one of the first Japanese action RPGs ever released there. Despite this, commentators today consider it to be among the worst games on the NES due to its punishing difficulty.
The protaganist, Prince Myer, is met by a spirit who warns him of a wizard, Rubas, who is gathering an army of monsters via use of seven magic bells that are able to do such. The wizard Rubas plans to use the army to conquer the Prince's kingdom, Willner Kingdom. Myers leaves on a journey to the Wizard's castle to destroy the bells and Rubas.
In Deadly Towers the player controls the Prince who can face eight different directions and throw his sword in the direction that he is facing. How the sword acts once thrown depends on the sword he currently has, for example the one that he has at the beginning of the game moves slowly across the screen and there can only be one on the screen at a time. The Prince moves through the wizard's castle trying to find the towers leading to the magic bells, each bell being guarded by a boss. By defeating the boss he gets the bell and can burn it in a magic fire close to the entrance of the tower, to progress and receive full health.
The castle is made up of various areas, but it is very non-linear and is hard to figure out. Rooms are often colored differently but there is little other variation. There are also secret areas to find, which are almost necessary to complete the game, due to them having better equipment in them. The player can come across these secret areas by stepping on the spot, that is not marked in anyway, that triggers it. These secret areas vary, sometimes being large mazes made up of hundreds of rooms that the Prince can only exit by finding another hidden exit, or are a parallel version of the room he was in, containing many deadly enemies and a powerful item. The player can also stumble across hidden shops that sell medium level equipment and helpful items such as potions.
Once the Prince comes across a tower, each one being a different color and slightly varied, they will have to climb it, killing or avoiding the enemies inside. Once they reach the top they will fight a boss that guards a magic bell. Defeating the boss will add the bell to the Prince's inventory, that he can burn at a magic fire in order to progress the game or receive full health. Once all the seven bells are burned the Prince will unlock the path to the final tower containing the end boss, Rubas.
An innovative aspect of the gameplay is the permanent power-up mechanic, similar to today's perks, where the player can receive various power-ups that are permanent rather than temporary. The game also features various stores that the player can visit throughout the game.