Dragon Slayer is an early example of the action role-playing game genre, which it laid the foundations for. Building on the prototypical action role-playing elements of Panorama Toh (1983), created by Yoshio Kiya and Nihon Falcom, as well as Namco's The Tower of Druaga (1984), Dragon Slayer is often considered the first true action role-playing game. In contrast to earlier turn-based roguelikes, Dragon Slayer was a dungeon crawl role-playing game that was entirely real-time with action-oriented combat, combining arcade style action mechanics with traditional role-playing mechanics.
Dragon Slayer featured an in-game map to help with the dungeon-crawling, required item management due to the inventory being limited to one item at a time, and featured item-based puzzles similar to The Legend of Zelda. Dragon Slayer's overhead action-RPG formula was used in many later games.