It’s time to give props to one of the longest running series out there. Dynasty Warriors launched on the original PlayStation on June 30, 1997 in North America. Omega Force developed it, which was a newly formed division of Koei. It’s based on a set of Chinese historical novels and another Koei series, Romance of the Three Kingdoms, which debuted in 1985. Today the series is well known as a hack and slash RPG, but it began as a weapon based fighting game. It’s no Street Fighter, or Soulcalibur to be more precise, but it’s still pretty good.
Omega Force and Koei didn’t immediately turn Dynasty Warriors into a cash cow. Instead they worked on three other projects. Enigma was an adventure game, which only released in Japan, Destrega was another fighting game albeit on a more DBZ level of chaos, and WinBack was a third-person shooter. They’re all pretty decent although I can’t say much about Enigma since it was all in Japanese.
After this experimentation Omega Force brought back Dynasty Warriors with its second installment arriving on October 26, 2000 in North America for the PS2. This is where the common gameplay elements of today started and it’s been like this ever since. Critics may chastise the series for being too “samey” but if you take a look every generation evolves ever so slightly. With better graphics and engines the team has a lot more to play with. More enemies can appear onscreen, maps get bigger, and heroes get broader. There’s a deeper bond fans have with Dynasty Warriors aside from the endless mayhem of slaying thousands of dead eyed warriors. That’s the co-op. Omega Force is one of the few remaining developers that constantly incorporates couch co-op into their games. For the most part that is.
I’m not saying this series doesn’t have flaws. For example, the one thing I miss from modern iterations is localized voice acting. The English actors in Dynasty Warriors weren’t winning any awards for their performances, but their cheesy portrayals added to the games’ charm. Japanese voice work is usually better, but it’s hard to read text while in the middle of battle. And yes it can get repetitive if you’re not playing with a friend so I understand where the haters are coming from. That said sometimes it’s just fun to turn your brain off and wail on some dudes. Understandably that sort of sensation isn’t for everyone though.
Since the second game Omega Force has pretty much become a Dynasty Warriors printing press, but there has been a series of spinoffs in-between each main release. Their first was Samurai Warriors, which was based on Japanese history instead of Chinese. They’ve also tackled various anime properties like Gundam and One Piece and video game adaptations too like Zelda and Dragon Quest. I could go on, but I’ve written enough for now so it’s time to throw it on over to my two accompanying video retrospectives wherein you can learn more about the main Dynasty Warriors games and its spinoffs. With that I wish Dynasty Warriors a very mighty 20th Anniversary!