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A Vast Empire: The Dynasty Warriors Dynasty

by Ben Reeves on Oct 06, 2010 at 02:00 PM

The Dynasty Warriors franchise is so sprawling that it should have its own area code. In a little over a decade the series has amassed nearly two dozen unique entries (and that’s not counting the Samurai Warriors spin-off series). The series may be overextended, but it is still beloved by many. In order to understand why, we tested our resolve and took a look back at every entry in this franchise.

True Chinese History

The tale of Dynasty Warriors is so massive that it actually begins before the first game was released. Developed by Omega Force and published by Koei, Dynasty Warriors is actually a spin-off of one of Koei’s other franchises, a turn-based strategy series called the Romance of the Three Kingdoms, which in turn is actually based off a 14th century historical Chinese novel.

The novel (actually called Romance of the Three Kingdoms) details the events taking place in China between the 2nd and 3rd centuries A.D. as several warring tribes fought to unify China. Weighing in at 800,000 words, it is nearly three times larger than J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, and is considered one of the greatest novels in Chinese literature.

And now players can perform powerful Musou attacks with their favorite generals from the classic work.

Dynasty Warriors – June 1997 – PSone
Dynasty Warriors’ first entry was unlike any of the rest of the series. This game was a complex weapon-based fighter akin to the Soulcalibur series. After the game came out, Koei decided it had explored the fighting genre as thoroughly as possible and changed its strategy. It would be the last time the publisher felt that way.

*Release dates denote the original North American release.

Dynasty Warriors 2 – October 2000 – PS2
With the inauguration of a new console generation, Dynasty Warriors became an action title, mastering the term “hack and slash.” Players got to play as one of the historically based generals as they led an army through a number of levels representing particular conflicts set within the era of the three kingdoms. Players eventually defeated both of the other kingdoms and become the ruler of a unified China.

Dynasty Warriors 3 – November 2001– PS2, Xbox
In Japan, the Dynasty Warriors series is known as Shin Sangokumusou, which literally translates into “True – Unrivaled Three Kingdoms.” Dynasty Warriors 3 added new stages, characters, weapons, attacks, and a few missing battles from Dynasty Warriors 2. It was also the first entry in the series to include a two-player mode.

Dynasty Warriors 3: Xtreme Legends – January 2003 – PS2
Koei skipped the year 2002, but don’t worry, we’ll be punished for that later. 2003 was when the company hooked the automated milking machine up to Dynasty Warriors’ utters. The Xtreme Legends titles aren’t completely new entries for the franchise, but are more like expansion packs, including small new features, items, and abilities. For example, Dynasty Warriors 3: Xtreme Legends added the ability to fully customize bodyguards. Kick ass!

Dynasty Warriors 4 – March 2003 – PS2, Xbox
As the series progressed, Dynasty Warriors strayed further from the actual plot of Romance of the Three Kingdoms. Dynasty Warriors 4 allowed players to affect how the storyline would progress, changing history itself. Let it go guys; it happened thousands of years ago.

Dynasty Warriors 4: Xtreme Legends – November 2003 – PS2
More hacking and slashing, but with new items, an 11th weapon level, and an option to choose between beginner and expert difficulty settings. This title also introduced three new modes: Xtreme, Legend, and Challenge. Thank the holy heavens!

Dynasty Warriors 4: Empires – August 2004 – PS2
Sure, we’d already received one Dynasty Warriors 4 expansion, but that wasn’t going to stop Koei from releasing another. Hey, 2004 was a slow year; you could either see Spider-Man 2 for the fifth time or go rent Dynasty Warriors 4: Empires. This entry added new playable factions, additional character customization options, and tripled the number of character models. It’s all so new and original that we’re surprised Koei didn’t just call this Dynasty Warriors 5.

Dynasty Warriors 5 – March 2005 – PS2, Xbox
Now this is no expansion, my friends. The addition of six new characters brought the playable total up to 48. Each character now followed their own distinct storyline, maps were up to 30 percent larger than those in earlier games, and – you’d better sit down for this one – the enhanced DW engine was capable of display nearly twice as many warriors onscreen at the same time. You’d think Koei would hang up its hat after this one. How do you top that? Still, the Dynasty Warriors war machine marched on.

Dynasty Warriors – March 2005 – PSP
It’s Dynasty Warriors on the PSP. Use your imagination. Now gamers could go outside and still play Dynasty Warriors. How did we get groceries before this day?

Dynasty Warriors Advance – August 2005 – GBA    
You didn’t think GBA users were going to escape the Dynasty Warriors train did you? Hack and slash, b*tch!

Dynasty Warriors 5: Xtreme Legends – November 2005 – PS2
If I said, “more characters, larger maps, and deeper stories.” Would you care? What if I said, “more hacking and more slashing!” There were four Dynasty Warriors titles in 2005; that must have been the best year in history. At least it might have been if Seann William Scott hadn’t ruined it with that Dukes of Hazzard remake. What a jerk!

Dynasty Warriors 4: Hyper – 2006 – PC
This is just a re-release of the 2004 Dynasty Warriors 4 on PS2, which means we don’t have to write about it. The actual month of this game’s release is lost to the sands of history.

Dynasty Warriors 5: Empires – March 2006 – PS2, 360
Good thing this Dynasty Warriors 5 came out only four months after the last Dynasty Warriors 5 because we were running out of reasons to run into a crowd and attack them. What’s different with this one? We don’t even know anymore.

Dynasty Warriors Vol. 2 – October 2006 – PSP
What’s with this Vol. 2 business, Koei? Regardless, this game introduced multiplayer combat with a Battle Royal of up to four players to the series for the first time. Slap us with a wet fish and call us Susan; the euphoria has made us delirious.

Dynasty Warriors DS: Fighter's Battle – July 2007 – DS
Unique to the DS, this game features a "battlefield area system" which creates strategic gameplay in shorter periods of time, but it can’t give us back our lives. Those have been stolen forever. It hurts when we cut ourselves. Please make the pain stop. Sob. Hack. Sob. Slash.

Dynasty Warriors: Gundam – August 2007 – PS3, 360
Robots! Hell yes! We’ll take two. Koei retooled the series to have a Mobile Suit Gundam theme. As such, this game drafted a story pulled from across the various Gundam anime series. Gundam mechs also proved to be a little more mobile than Chinese generals and had a greater suite of ranged attacks.

Dynasty Warriors 6 – February 2008 – PS3, 360, PC, PS2
It was 2008 and the new consoles were out, so it was time to shake another numbered entry off the Dynasty Warriors tree. This translates into larger onscreen armies, more open environments, 60 frames-per-second action, and refined character models. These aren’t just features you make up to sell games. They’re features you make up to help yourself sleep at night after you’ve ripped off the general public.

Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 2 – April 2009 – PS3, 360, PS2
Dang it, Koei must have overheard that surly “we’ll take two” comment. This game took all the Dynasty Warriors: Gundam action and put it in a new box.

Dynasty Warriors: Strikeforce – April 2009 – PS3, 360, PSP
Strikeforce took players into the sky, giving them the ability to fly through the air and attack from above and below. This title originally released on PSP, but several months later Koei re-released the game for home consoles. We’ll give you our bank account number Koei, just deduct $60 every few months, would you?

Dynasty Warriors 6: Empires – June 2009 – PS3, 360
More expansions and features. Historical combat. Fast-paced, heroic-action. Hack and slash! (Psst, hey you! Yeah you, wearing the shirt. Kill us. Please, just kill us now.)

Well that’s it. Almost hard to believe it’s already over, but that covers the entire Dynasty Warriors gameography. At least until the Dynasty Warriors Online game comes out on PC later this year. And then, of course, when the Dynasty Warriors title that’s been announced for Nintendo’s 3DS comes out later next year. And then again when the inevitable Dynasty Warriors: Slap Your Horse gets announced for Microsoft’s Kinect. But until then paste on a happy smile and consider this a complete Dynasty Warriors catalogue.