|Genre(s)||Hack and slash|
Koei Tecmo (2010–present)
|Platform(s)||Game Boy Advance|
Nintendo Wii U
Xbox Series X/S
|First release||Dynasty Warriors|
February 28, 1997
|Latest release||Dynasty Warriors 9|
February 8, 2018
Dynasty Warriors (真・三國無双, Shin Sangokumusō, lit. "True Three Kingdoms Unrivaled") is a series of Japanese hack and slash action video games created by Omega Force and Koei. The series is a spin-off of Koei's turn-based strategy Romance of the Three Kingdoms series, based upon the Chinese novel of the same name, which is a fictionalized and exaggerated version of the Chinese historical text Records of the Three Kingdoms.
The first game in the series, titled Dynasty Warriors in English and Sangokumusō in Japanese, was a fighting game, a separate genre from the rest of the games in the series. Koei later created a new game as a spin-off and added the word shin (真, true, genuine) to the beginning of the title to differentiate it from its predecessor. When the game was localized for the North American market, the name became Dynasty Warriors 2. Since then, all English titles have been numbered one larger than their Japanese counterparts. Because the original Dynasty Warriors game belongs to a separate genre and has a different series title in Japan, Koei Tecmo does not consider it a formal entry in the Dynasty Warriors series.[Note 1] This is evidenced by Koei-Tecmo's celebration of the series' 20th anniversary in 2020, two decades after the release of Dynasty Warriors 2.
In 2008, it was Koei's most successful franchise, and as of February 2020, the series has sold more than 21 million copies worldwide.
|2000||Dynasty Warriors 2|
|2001||Dynasty Warriors 3|
|2003||Dynasty Warriors 4|
|2005||Dynasty Warriors 5|
|2007||Dynasty Warriors 6|
|2011||Dynasty Warriors 7|
|2013||Dynasty Warriors 8|
|2018||Dynasty Warriors 9|
|2022||Dynasty Warriors 9 Empires|
The first Dynasty Warriors (Sangokumusō) is a traditional one-on-one fighting game, released in 1997 for the PlayStation. Its gameplay style is reminiscent of Samurai Shodown, The Last Blade, Virtua Fighter and Soul Blade.
The next game was released in Japan as Shin Sangokumusou. This game was released in other countries as Dynasty Warriors 2, leading to the discrepancy in title numbers. From this game onwards, the player chooses a playable character and plays a number of levels representing particular battles in the Three Kingdoms period, eventually defeating all other rival kingdoms and uniting China under a common ruler. In this game mode, known as "Musou Mode", the generals are usually chosen from one of the three kingdoms (Wu, Shu or Wei; however, from Dynasty Warriors 3: Xtreme Legends onwards, independent generals were given full stories as well). Dynasty Warriors 3 has two secret characters, Nü Wa and Fu Xi, that are not playable in Musou Mode.
Dynasty Warriors 2, Dynasty Warriors 3, Dynasty Warriors 5 and Dynasty Warriors 6 have individual Musou Modes for each character. In Dynasty Warriors 4, Dynasty Warriors 7, and Dynasty Warriors 8, each of the Three Kingdoms has its own Musou Mode, which all characters from a particular kingdom would play. The stages are presented in a third-person view, with the camera set behind the player as they engage the enemy forces. Each scenario can have different win/lose conditions, but the common losing conditions (defeat of the commander-in-chief, health bar reaching zero and maximum time limit reached) still hold. As for the other characters not from either of the Three Kingdoms, their Musou story modes are purely fictional since in Romance of the Three Kingdoms, most or all of them were eliminated until only the Three Kingdoms were left.
In Dynasty Warriors 5, a relatively more realistic Musou Mode is introduced for each character. Instead of participating in the entire set of their kingdoms' events, the characters appear only in certain battles that they had fought in, as according to the novel or factual history. Therefore, characters will start at different points in time and they may never have opportunities to encounter some of the other characters (e.g.: Zhuge Liang will never meet Lü Bu or Dong Zhuo in his Musou Mode). In between stages there are some dramatic cutscenes, in which the character will express their thoughts on the situation, adding a more personal touch and keeping the player updated on the events. Besides, a character's Musou Mode may end before the unification of China at any point of time, stopping for most at their historical point of death. However, some characters such as the three founders may continue to participate in battles that occurred after their deaths (e.g.: Cao Cao appearing in Battle of Wuzhang Plains), representing an extended leadership under more successful circumstances.
In Dynasty Warriors 8, an "if" route is added for each country. By fulfilling conditions in previous battles, the player can unlock a hypothetical route for each country where it manages to achieve what it failed to do in actual history. For example, the player can help Wei avoid defeat in the battle of Chibi and unite China with all Wei characters alive.
Dynasty Warriors 9 sought to introduce an "open world" style of gameplay.
In 2002, an Xtreme Legends (猛将伝, Mōshōden) expansion was first released for the main games, beginning with Dynasty Warriors 3. This expansion features new Musou Modes for the characters in the Other category as well as new stages, weapons, items, and modes. The Xtreme Legends expansion only have the new content, and so players would require the original game disc and use the "Mixjoy" option to access all features. The following games would continue the tradition by having Xtreme Legends expansion, save for Dynasty Warriors 6. New characters were also added through the Xtreme Legends starting with Dynasty Warriors 7.
Beginning in 2004, another expansion line, titled Empires was first released for Dynasty Warriors 4. In Empires, the game would combine the action gameplay of the regular series with strategical and tactical elements from Koei's earlier series Romance of the Three Kingdoms. Unlike the Xtreme Legends, Empires did not require the original game disc to access all of its features as it is considered a unique game of its own. Again, the following games would continue having the Empires expansion, including Dynasty Warriors 6, which did not receive an Xtreme Legends expansion.
In 2004, Koei created the first Dynasty Warriors title for portable game handhelds, Dynasty Warriors, on PlayStation Portable, and in the following year, Dynasty Warriors Advance for Game Boy Advance. The sequel of the first PSP game, Dynasty Warriors Vol. 2 was released in 2006. In 2007, Koei released Dynasty Warriors DS: Fighter's Battle for the Nintendo DS. Another PSP game based on Dynasty Warriors 6, Dynasty Warriors: Strikeforce was released in 2009, which was followed up by a sequel, Shin Sangokumusō: Multi Raid 2 in 2010. A PlayStation Vita game, Dynasty Warriors Next, was released in 2011 as a launch title, and a Nintendo 3DS game, Shin Sangokumusō VS (真・三國無双 VS), was released in April 2012. Another portable game was announced in September 2020 for iOS and Android, titled Shin Sangokumusō (真・三國無双).
Other than titles specifically made for handhelds, select main Dynasty Warriors titles have also been ported to handhelds, all of which are only available in Japan. The PS2 version of Dynasty Warriors 6, Dynasty Warriors 6: Special was also ported to the PSP, which was soon followed by the Empires expansion in 2010. A port of Dynasty Warriors 7, Shin Sangokumusou 6: Special was released in 2011 for PSP, based on the Xtreme Legends expansion but without including the three new characters added for the expansion. A PS Vita port of Dynasty Warriors 8 was released in 2013, which includes features from the Xtreme Legends expansion for that game. Later, in 2015, the Empires expansion of Dynasty Warriors 8 was also released on the PS Vita, notably also compatible with the PlayStation TV.
Dynasty Warriors 4: Hyper in 2005 is marked as the first DW game for the PC. Hyper was a port of Dynasty Warriors 4 for the PS2, and had harder AI, more enemies on screen and smoother textures.
In 2006, Dynasty Warriors BB (renamed Dynasty Warriors Online in 2007) was released as an online game. As of January 10, 2014 Aeria Games shut down the servers for Dynasty Warriors Online in America. Next to Dynasty Warriors 4: Hyper, Dynasty Warriors 5 Special was released for PC in 2006, Dynasty Warriors 6 was released for PC in 2008. Also Samurai Warriors 2 released in 2009. The PC port of Dynasty Warriors 7 with Extreme Legends was released on March 9, 2012.
Dynasty Warriors 7: Xtreme Legends - Definitive Edition released on Steam on December 6, 2018.
Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends - Complete Edition released on Steam on May 13, 2014.
Dynasty Warriors 8: Empires released on Steam on February 27, 2015.
Dynasty Warriors 9 released on Steam on February 13, 2018.
Dynasty Warriors 9: Empires was announced on September 27, 2020, and was released in Japan in December 2021 and the rest of the world in February 2022.
The Dynasty Warriors game series, although referenced to factual people, is known for changing the traditional ways of how some of the historical characters were depicted in Romance of the Three Kingdoms or in historical records. For example, Zhang He appears to be more feminine while Wei Yan becomes a bestial tribal warrior, while historical accounts depict both to be relatively normal generals with no outstanding characteristics such as these. Some of them also wield weapons that are anachronistic, such as Ling Tong's nunchaku and Sun Ce's tonfas. A touch of mysticism is also added, as some characters such as Zhuge Liang, Sima Yi and Zuo Ci have the ability to use magic in their attacks. Female characters (except Zhurong and Wang Yi) who did not participate in any battles in the novel or in history are depicted as fearsome female warriors with exceptional fighting skills and weapons.
A total of 96 characters have been made playable at some point in the series (not counting spin-offs); however, only 94 currently make mainstay appearances as of Dynasty Warriors 9. Each of these characters is armed with a weapon that may be a conventional historical one, an exotic martial arts weapon or a magical weapon that enhances their mystical powers. From Dynasty Warriors 3 onward, each character can choose from a range of weapons with their own power-ups and ability enhancements, as well as higher-level weapons that extend their attack chain.
Following the success of Dynasty Warriors, Koei released Dynasty Tactics in 2002 and its sequel, Dynasty Tactics 2 in the following year, focusing on strategy and tactics in the same Three Kingdoms setting.
Probably the third most recognized franchise of Koei, Samurai Warriors (Sengoku Musou in Japan) series, was introduced in 2004. Instead of the Three Kingdoms era, the series uses Japan's Sengoku period. As a result, the game's roster consists of characters from that era, while having gameplay similar to that of Dynasty Warriors. The game would be followed by Samurai Warriors 2 in 2006, Samurai Warriors 3 in 2009, Samurai Warriors 4 in 2014, and Samurai Warriors 5 in 2021. as well as numerous other spin-off titles. As with the original series, Samurai Warriors also has the Xtreme Legends and Empires expansions, with the former beginning on the first game and the latter on the second game.
A tactical role-playing game, Dynasty Warriors: Godseekers was announced on April 5, 2016, with a Japanese release date in 2016 for the PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation Vita. It will be the series' first strategy RPG, featuring a turn-based system and a world map. The game will also completely deviate from history by introducing a completely new story line involving fictitious mystical elements, with Zhao Yun as the main protagonist.
Other related titles include:
In January 2018, the president of Koei Tecmo, Hisashi Koinuma, said that he wanted to make a Dynasty Warriors spin-off using characters and settings from the Star Wars franchise from Lucasfilm after they managed to be successful with Nioh and Fire Emblem Warriors. Koinuma chose Star Wars to be able to make a Science fiction Warriors series, which had not been done previously. However, as Electronic Arts owns the game rights to the Star Wars franchise, it would be a difficult collaboration to achieve, and is more of a future goal. As of 2021, EA have lost the exclusivity rights in developing Star Wars games and in the development of their other projects such as Samurai Warriors 5, Koinuma reiterated that both Super Mario and Star Wars in a Dynasty Warriors format as projects he personally wanted to undertake before considering retirement.
Main article: Dynasty Warriors (film)
On 15 March 2016, Suzuki Akihiro and the Hong Kong-based company HMV Digital China announced at the 20th Hong Kong International Film and TV Market that they will be making a live-action film adaptation of Dynasty Warriors. The film will be directed by Roy Chow, produced and written by Christine To, and to be released in 2017. On 8 July 2017, HMV Digital China's executive chairman Stephen Shiu Jr. revealed on his weibo that the film will start shooting on 11 July. He also revealed that he had approached Koei Tecmo four years ago and secured the rights to adapt the Dynasty Warriors franchise into a movie. On 11 July, Shiu announced that Han Geng, Wang Kai, Louis Koo, Tony Yang and Gulnazar are part of the main cast. On 28 September 2017, director Roy Chow announced that after 63 days of filming in mainland China, the team will be moving to New Zealand in November 2017 to shoot the background scenes.
Shooting for Dynasty Warriors wrapped up on 28 November 2017. The pre-production phase took eight months, the principal photography phase lasted five months, and the post-production phase will take up to a year. A trailer for the film was released in 2018, stating a release was planned for 2019. The film was released on April 29, 2021, in Hong Kong, and in China on April 30, 2021. The film was made available via Netflix in the UK in June 2021 and other regions in July 2021.
Many of the stages are recreations of notable battles in the late Han Dynasty and Three Kingdoms periods, that are usually depicted in Romance of the Three Kingdoms. There are also some original creations in the newer installments that are also historical, such as the battle between the Nanman and Wu.
The music for the Dynasty Warriors game series is a mixture of traditional Chinese instrumentals, hard rock and heavy metal. Most stages have their own exclusive music tracks played and the tracks change according to the battle situation or events.
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