Monday, February 24, 2020

Dynasty Warriors (PS1) - Review

Well, time to start something new, a Dynasty Warriors Retrospective. I'm gonna review every main series game (plus Xtreme Ledgends) in order. Starting off, is the original Fighting Game on the original Playstation. This is easily the stand out title that isn't even considered part of the same series in Japan. Regardless, how about you click "read more" and we take a look at it.


If you're expecting me to talk about Romance of the Three Kingdoms, sorry but that will wait till 2. This title has some of the generals, but non of the story in game. The only dialog are phrases each character says when selected, defeated, or when they win a fight. However, they are all in Japanese with no subtitles so, nothing can be reviewed.

As far as story goes, the closes we get are the opening cutscene that has some crude depictions of historical moments, and the end movies every character has when completing the 1P battle mode with them.

Most of these don't have much to talk about though. (Except one that we will get to later.) Not to say they are bad, they give happy endings, make the character look like a winner, and some of them are kinda funny. However, they are just roughly 20 second long movies with no dialog that are badly aged with some ugly FMV.

Overall, story is a footnote in this game and there isn't any real writing. But, a decent fighting game, (especially for the time), doesn't need a good story to work.

Game Play

The game is a weapon based one on one fighting game. There are 10 characters to start with, 3 unlockable, and 3 more acquired through cheat codes. Sixteen in total.

There are 3 generals from Shu, Wu, and Wei, and Diao Chan before anyone is unlocked. 

For Shu, there is Zhao Yun, Guan Yu, and Zheng Fei. Zhuge Liang of Shu is unlocked by completing the 1P battle with all 3 Shu generals. Good lineup, but not having the Shu leader, Liu Bei, is odd. 

Wei gets their leader Cao Cao's bodyguards, Xu Zhu and Dian Wei plus his right hand man Xiahou Dun with Cao Cao being unlockable by completing the game with everyone. Definitely a lineup that makes sense.

Wu has two of their famous strategists, Zhou Yu and Lu Xun, plus Taishi Ci. Non of the Sun family who ruled Wu are unlockable except for Sun Shang Xiang with a cheat code.

The last unlockable character is the very well known Lu Bu by completing the game with Zhuge Liang and Cao Cao. Probably the best choice for that.

As for the other two characters, they are Nobunaga, a famous character from the Samurai Warriors games or the Japanese wars. And a joke character, Toukichi. These two require both a cheat code and having Lu Bu unlocked in order to place as. That, is just silly, especially knowing that wasn't the case in the Japanese version of this game.

Now, for the actual game play, it is still and unbalanced. Every move has a small delay which makes some basic moves hard to pull off and the controls are difficult to get a feel for with nothing flowing properly. There are 2 attack buttons and 2 block buttons with customizable layouts. 

In addition to the lack polish for the controls, the weapons don't have have the same reach which gives some characters an advantage. Plus, some characters just do more damage. 

These are the main problems with balance. Normally, a stronger character is slower. While that may or may not be the case here, the trade-off is not noticeable. 

Despite these big flaws, there surprisingly is some depth to the game play. This isn't a button-masher. Unless the difficulty is turned way down, smashing buttons and random won't get you far. There is a way to parry attacks, you have a lot of move combinations, and you can do counters from well timed blocks or sidesteps. Also, a little meter at the bottom that once filled, you can do a special attack combo.

Sadly, this brings us right back to the stiff controls which gives utilizing any of these features an extra layer of difficulty. It is possible to master these controls with enough practice and pull off some interesting stuff. Only question, would you want too?


Audio in this game can be summed up as "stock". Music is okay, but nothing stands out, and the sound effects are mostly just blades clashing and slashing. Bland, basic, non-offensive.


Graphics do not impress. The characters are blocky, the stages have no texture and a still image backgrounds, and the FMV's are terrifying sometimes.

I'm not excusing this for the time period. Plenty of PS1 games showed off much nicer visuals than this. Just look at Tekken.

Final Thoughts

As a whole, this original title in the Dynasty Warriors series is definitely interesting to talk about and isn't the worst fighting game I've ever played, but as a whole, it aged poorly. There are so many great fighting games on PS1 that would feel dishonest to recommend one so basic and clunky. The only people I could honestly recommend this title too are fighting game enthusiasts who like to study the history, or die hard Dynasty Warriors fans like myself. That being said, it was nice to see the origins of some of the design choices for the future titles. While this game may be lack luster, it has one thing that no other Dynasty Warriors game has, the eye-eating scene with Xiahou Dun.

History lesson, records say after the general Xiahou Dun lost his eye from an enemy arrow, he swallowed it because that eye was a gift from his parents that he didn't want to discard. Later games starting with 4 showing the arrow hitting the eye, but only 1 had the eating it part.

Writing - n/a
Game Play - 4/10
Audio - 3/5
Presentation - 2/5

Overall - 4.5/10

No comments:

Post a Comment

Blog Archive