In 1986, Arsys Software debuted with the 3D role-playing shooter Wibarm. It is considered the first 3D Role-Playing Shooter (RPS), combining elements of run & gun shooters, top-down shoot 'em ups, and real-time action role-playing games. The game featured open-world exploration as well as 3D polygonal graphics inside buildings. This is more of a spiritual predecessor to the Star Cruiser series, laying the foundations for it, rather than a direct plot-related prequel.
In 1988, Arsys released the 3D first-person shooter role-playing game Star Cruiser, a fully 3D role-playing shooter that anticipated the first-person shooter genre, years before Wolfenstein 3D and Doom. In addition to the first-person shooter combat, Star Cruiser also featured open-world exploration with six degrees of freedom as well as visual novel cut-scenes. In 1989, they released an enhanced port of Star Cruiser, which took advantage of the X68000's powerful hardware to produce the most advanced 3D polygon graphics seen on a home system of the 80's. In 1990, Star Cruiser was eventually ported to Sega's Mega Drive (Genesis) console.
When Star Cruiser was released in 1988, Arsys Software only had two employees, which grew to a dozen employees by 1991, when development began on Star Cruiser 2, which was eventually released in December 1992 for the NEC PC-9821 and FM Towns computers.
Wibarm and Star Cruiser won the following awards from leading Japanese computer publications at the time:
- Oh!MZ (Oh!X) - Game of the Year
Star Cruiser (1988)