It’s not often that a videogame series comes along whose first installment is vastly different from its sequels. Most people know Koei’s Dynasty Warrior franchise as a series of games that hybrid strategy and action elements. However, its first installment, naturally titled Dynasty Warriors, released in 1997 on the original PlayStation, is actually a fighting game, one having the rare honor not to have basis on an arcade version like the Street Fighter and Tekken games. The game itself can be fairly enjoyable, in spite of its flaws.
Dynasty Warriors is a spinoff of Koei’s turn-based strategy series, Romance of the Three Kingdoms, which in turn had its basis on the classic Chinese novel of the same name. As such, characters are taken straight from the strategy series, although the fighting game doesn’t do much with them story-wise, with most of the plot in the instruction book, which, while decent, was fairly inexcusable for a game at the time, given the PlayStation’s greater capacity for text and graphics.
The first installment features several fighting modes, among them being 1P Battle, where the player plays a character against a computer-controlled antagonist. Other modes include Versus, where two human players fight, an eight-character elimination tournament, time trial, and the like. Those who have played other fighting games will largely be familiar with the mechanisms, although the characters solely attack with weapons instead of using moves such as punches and kicks. The game mechanics are solid for the most part, with the only real flaw being the inability to pause during certain modes.
The aforementioned issue with pausing is the only real flaw with the game’s control scheme, with the game menus being easily navigable for the most part, and each character’s different moves listed in the instruction book.
The music isn’t terribly memorable, although the Japanese voice acting is largely solid for the most part.
The graphics actually look pretty nice for a 3-D PlayStation game, with anatomically-correct character models, although said models are slightly blocky.
Finally, one can play the original game infinitely, whether alone or with friends. In the end, Dynasty Warriors was a nice start to its series, what particularly with its solid fighting system, good Japanese voicework, and nice 3-D visuals, even if future installments would deviate from its genre. Fans of fighting games, Chinese history/mythology, and so forth, will likely have a good time.
+Decent fighting mechanisms with plenty variety.
+Good Japanese voicework.
+Nice three-dimensional visuals.
-No pause during some parts.
-Most of the story is in the instruction book.
-Music could have been better.
The Bottom Line:
A decent, if somewhat run-of-the-mill, fighting game.
Game Mechanics: 8/10
Lasting Appeal: 10/10
Difficulty: Varies with Mode
Playing Time: Infinite