Years before he brokered the deal that led to Nintendo bundling the Game Boy with Tetris and entangled the remainder of his career with the puzzler franchise, Henk Rogers created The Black Onyx, one of the first (if not the first) commercial roleplaying video games developed for Japan, under Bullet-Proof Software.

Based on the first-person Wizardry series, the title released for NEC's PC-88/PC-98 microcomputers in 1984 and helped introduce Japanese players to Dungeons & Dragons-style ideas/mechanics. The Black Onyx was later ported to platforms like the NES, MSX, Sega SG-1000, and even Game Boy Color, but it never saw an English edition, as far as I know.

Tokugawa Corporate Forums poster LordKarnov42, however, has translated the PC-88/PC-98 versions to English more than 25 years since the game's original release! He notes that, in his opinion, the PC-88 version is superior as it includes music/sound effects and runs at a playable speed in emulators. He also says his translation is still a "v0.99 Beta", as he hasn't beaten the game yet.

LordKarnov42 has already started work on translating The Fire Crystal, an expansion to The Black Onyx that adds a magic system to the game. Rogers initially intended to include The Fire Crystal, The Moonstone (adds wilderness exploration), and Arena (adds arena battles) into the main game but couldn't due to memory limitations.

Rogers recently talked about the challenges he faced with creating one of the first RPGs for Japan and trying to fit it within the system's memory limitations:

"I was a little naive, I didn't read or write Japanese when I got started. I went to Akihabara, and I tried to look at what was going on on what machine. I figured out NEC was going to make it at that point, and they were missing roleplaying games. And I thought, 'Wow, they just haven't gotten around to it, so I will.'

So I decided to make a roleplaying game. What I didn't know is that they didn't have Dungeons & Dragons in Japan. The precursor to American roleplaying games like The Temple of Apshai, Wizardry, and Ultima was Dungeons & Dragons, and you kind of have to know how to play Dungeons & Dragons before you can play those games.

As I started building it, I started realizing, 'Oh my God, I have to teach people how to play roleplaying games from scratch. And I have 64K to do it in.'

I had to strip a lot out of the game that I had originally envisioned, to just make it an introductory roleplaying game. But it had miniatures. You could choose your own head, and you choose your own clothes -- all in 64K. All the player graphics fit in 10K, and all the monster graphics fit in 10K. It was a real big squeeze job."

You can read that full interview with Henk Rogers at sister site Gamasutra.